USF Continues to Adapt as Needs of Prospective Students Change

Joliet, Ill. – As local and regional high school students continue their return to the classroom for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began last spring, many school officials are hoping to end this long, strange year on a high note of success and adaptation. For senior students, namely those planning to head to college this fall, the year continues to present them with a series of challenges during their final chapter of high school that has required an enhanced level of adaption, namely regarding the pursuit of what comes next for them following graduation.

“Students are scrambling to finish senior year and graduate. In many cases, this continued adaption is resulting in senior students waiting a long time to choose a university, and most are still unsure about when and how to finish applying to schools,” said Eric Wignall, University of St. Francis (USF) Vice President for Admissions.

“May 1st used to be a major deadline facing students making the decision of which school to choose. That deadline just does not mean that much this year. We have seen a number of applications this spring from students who just recently started their college search,” he added.

Wignall said USF understands students’ late start to the process and offers that admissions counselors are on campus and online waiting to answer questions and offer students the guidance they are seeking.

“When rising cases of Covid-19 shut down campuses last spring, most colleges were finishing their annual admissions cycle. At USF, we quickly changed to online tools and shifted our open houses and campus tours to online virtual sessions. We also utilized online scheduling tools to allow students and families to easily pick a date and time to speak with a live counselor. While Covid-19 presented an immense hurdle, we were persistent in our efforts to connect with students as personally as possible,” he said.

USF initiated an alternative test-optional admission route last May, as well, with the hopes of using the best and fairest criteria for evaluating every student’s potential.

“After talking with health professionals, we planned for a very different sort of year. Going to test optional was just one step. It was obvious to us that the College Board and ACT would not be able to open enough testing sites, so we quickly announced USF wouldn’t require test scores,” Wignall said.

Instead, USF now considers students’ respective academic performances and participation in rigorous, college-preparatory programs. Students still, though, will be required to demonstrate English proficiency before admission.

“Our admissions standards were changed to focus more on high school grades and activities. We look for students who are leaders in high school both in and out of the classroom while also demonstrating a commitment to community service. Ultimately, our objective is to encourage a wide range of high-achieving students like to consider USF,” Wignall added.

Students are still able to submit their standardized test scores if they choose to do so.

“If you believe your test scores are indicative of your academic achievement, then we are happy to consider them as part of your application. However, if you have a strong academic record demonstrated by above-average grades in challenging courses, but do not feel your test results are a good reflection of your academic performance, you can choose not to submit them,” Wignall said.

Wignall concluded that, while the pandemic has presented students and their families with a variety of challenges, there is no better time than now to get started because of the long-term value that a degree from USF carries with it.

“High school students looking at college, along with their parents, are right to be cautious about investing time and money into an educational program, especially in light of the challenges Covid-19 created over one year ago and that still exist today. It is our goal to show students and their families that a college degree can be worth millions of dollars over the course of one’s career. Our aid packages and scholarships help to greatly offset the cost of that investment, so we want to demonstrate to these students the importance of acting now because a USF degree is very accessible to them. Once that dialogue with them begins, we are confident they will agree and will want to be a Fighting Saint in the fall,” Wignall said.

Students interested in learning more should visit stfrancis.edu/apply for more information and to connect with a USF admissions counselor.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Seeking Photos for Time Capsule Project

Joliet, Ill. –  Throughout the rich history of the University of St. Francis (USF), the university has embraced that it’s the people who helped establish its legacy. Whether it was the Sisters who founded the institution, the students who spent years pursuing a degree, the faculty and staff who spent decades teaching, coaching, and helping, or the alumni who remain engaged and continue to support USF, it has always been about the people.

The USF Alumni & Family Relations Office, on behalf of the USF Alumni Association and in coordination with Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (student club), is creating a time capsule and is seeking photos to be included in the project. Students, alumni, employees of USF are invited to submit a photo that best represents their legacy at St. Francis – whether hanging out on campus, in class, at a student event, athletics game, study abroad program, with friends, or any other St. Francis activity. Photos will be preserved in the USF archives and printed as 3×5” photos for inclusion in the capsule, which will be buried during a ceremony that will happen on Saturday, Oct. 2 during Homecoming & Reunion (details about that event are forthcoming). The capsule will be retrieved and opened in 2045 as part of USF’s 125th anniversary celebration.

“We want to preserve our legacy and honor our present to help celebrate our future. After celebrating our Centennial year in 2020, we hope the time capsule will capture our story as we commence our second century,” said Aubrey Knight, ’04, ’07, USF Director of Alumni & Family Relations.

Photos may be submitted electronically at stfrancis.edu/timecapsule. Submissions are due by August 31, 2021.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Senior Thesis Exhibition to Open April 30

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Art Gallery will open its newest exhibition, the 2021 Senior Thesis Exhibition, with a public reception that will take place on Friday, April 30, 2021, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The exhibition features the work of six graduating seniors from the USF Department of Fine Arts, including: Amber Daraka – Photography, Austin Hines – Studio Art, Jamie Stolfo – Studio Art, Lauren Tuider – Graphic Design, Maria Cruz Uceda – Graphic Design, and Odessa Villarreal – Studio Art and Graphic Design.

“Working across a variety of media, these artists explore themes unique to each of them. As the culmination of their journey at the University of St. Francis, this exhibit not only reflects the skills gained from their time as students, but also their personal growth as artists,” said Jennifer Moore, USF Art Gallery Director and Collection Manager.

The exhibition will be on display at the USF Art Gallery, which is located at 25 E. Van Buren Street in Joliet, from April 30 through July 30, 2021, and is open to the public. The current gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Starting on May 15, the gallery will be open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the USF Art Gallery on Facebook at facebook.com/theuniversityofstfrancisartgallery for more information.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Eric Ruiz Honored by IACAC

Joliet, Ill. – Each spring, the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling hosts an annual conference during which the organization recognizes the contributions of its membership. Eric Ruiz, the director of undergraduate admissions at the University of St. Francis (USF), was recognized at this year’s event on April 21 and 22 with the Molly K. Arnold President’s Service Recognition Award for providing strong and consistent leadership to IACAC.

“Being honored with this award is super humbling. Every year at the IACAC conference, I sit in awe as I cheer on the recipients of these awards. The Molly Arnold Award has always had recipients who I’ve looked up to. I’ve always thought to myself how amazing these people are, how hard they’ve worked, the level they were at inspired me so much! These recipients aren’t just doing their job description and helping students, they are creating paths, changing lives, changing culture, making a difference. It’s a level I’ve always wanted to get to,” Ruiz said.

“One of the coolest things I heard today, ‘he’s just a good human being.’ I mean, I’ve always wanted to be a good human being, but it was really awesome to hear that. I may not consider myself to be quite at the level as the other recipients or the past recipients of the Molly Arnold Award but I am in awe that maybe, just maybe, I may be viewed that way by whoever nominated me,” Ruiz added.

Ruiz, who joined the USF admissions team in 2007, is also a past winner of the James A. Alexander Newcomer Award (2011) and the Inclusion, Access and Success Service Award (2015) through IACAC.

“I am happy but in no way surprised by Eric’s selection for this award,” said Eric Wignall, USF’s vice president for admissions. “He truly is helpful in his advice to counselors, his guidance to new members, and his service to the organization.”

“Whether he is leading a training session or taking part in professional development workshop, Eric is a natural leader and very often that ‘person who gets things done.’ His help to counseling professionals helps them guide and serve more students. It’s the kind of person he—the kind of professional he is. He is a phenomenal representative of the University of St. Francis,” Wignall said.

About the Molly K. Arnold President’s Service Recognition Award

The Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling’s President’s Service Recognition Award was inaugurated in 1999, to recognize members with more than five years’ service who have provided strong and consistent leadership to IACAC. More than one award may be given each year. In 2010, the IACAC Executive Board renamed the award in honor of Molly K. Arnold.

About the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling

According to their website, iacac.org, the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling “is an organization of counseling professionals dedicated to serving students as they explore options and make choices about pursuing postsecondary education. IACAC members are counselors, admission or financial aid officers, active retirees, or students who are concerned about the future of education in the State of Illinois and in the nation. IACAC is committed to maintaining high standards, which foster ethical and social responsibility among those involved in the transition process.”

Visit iacac.org for more information.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Gold Foundation to Honor USF Employees and Local Pharmacist

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) and KODO Care Pharmacy have partnered over the past several months to administer some of the first Covid-19 vaccines in the Joliet area, including residents of long term care facilities and developmentally disabled patients who were unable to get the vaccine elsewhere. Their efforts will be recognized by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation this summer as part of the organization’s Annual Gala event on June 10, 2021.

USF Leach College of Nursing representatives Kimberly Gibson, BSN, RN, and Annette Mattea, DNP, RN, APN/CCNS, CNE, and KODO Care Pharmacy president and pharmacist Chad Kodiak will be presented with Champion of Humanistic Care recognition as part of an event that will also recognize Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Wayne Riley, and Dr. Eric Topol with National Humanism in Medicine Medals. The three local honorees will each receive a certificate from the Gold Foundation and will be celebrated at the Gold Foundation’s Annual Gala through recognition on the Gold Foundation website and in the digital gala program.

The trio was nominated for the honor by Ebere Ume, Ph.D., MSN, RN, PHN, Dean of the USF Leach College of Nursing.

“Congratulations to Kim, Annette and Chad on their recognition by the Arnold Gold Foundation as a Champion of Humanistic Care, for their extensive work on ensuring Covid-19 vaccination for our community, promoting a great partnership between USF LCON and Kodo Care Pharmacy, and providing wonderful practice opportunities for our students,” Ume said.

Gibson points to those she served as inspiration to exceed even her own expectations on persevering through the challenges presented by the pandemic.

“Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us all a lot about love, loss, and that distance still cannot stop the power of human connection. There were many very hard days, and yet there were also days of happiness and joy. The patients are what kept me going. They were my inspiration to push the limits and do what some would say was unachievable. Simply holding a hand in silence or watching the tears of joy and relief is why I do what I do,” Gibson said.

For Mattea, the experience has reinforced the important role that nurses have, especially in times of challenge.

“Nurses are known as trustworthy and caring. The Covid-19 pandemic has tested everyone’s physical and mental capabilities, including nurses. We were challenged to understand and show empathy while experiencing grief and loss ourselves. Covid-19 had no boundaries. But during this time, we also shared silence and inactivity while reflecting on the importance of understanding, listening and empathy for others. We helped allay fears of the unknown when we didn’t have all of the answers. We are all humans. We are all important. We are all equal. Covid hit the human heart and soul but perseverance, kindness, and compassion towards others got us through. Being part of the solution through volunteerism has been rewarding knowing that I am helping all I serve and care for as we long for brighter days ahead,” Mattea said.

For Kodiak, his efforts stemmed from the answer to a simple question: what can I do to help?

“Compassion is what has gotten me through the difficult days during the Covid-19 pandemic…and there have been many difficult days. Knowing that a person not only needs but also is often dependent on our care is the motivation that gets me and our team at KODO Care through the late nights, difficult days, and seemingly impossible scenarios. I believe in the goodness of human beings and I have seen that goodness countless times during this ordeal. There have been literally too many times to count when people are saying ‘What can I do to help?’ And every time there has been something, and every time they have done it,” Kodiak said.

About the Arnold P. Gold Foundation

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation infuses the human connection into healthcare. We engage schools, health systems, companies, and individual clinicians in the joy and meaning of humanistic healthcare, so that they have the strength and knowledge to ensure patients and families are partners in collaborative, compassionate, and scientifically excellent care.

Dr. Arnold Perlman Gold and his wife, Sandra, co-founded The Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1988 with an aim toward sustaining the human connection in medicine and ensuring all patients received compassionate care. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s programs, such as the White Coat Ceremony and the Gold Humanism Honor Society, are now found in nearly every medical school in the country.

Visit gold-foundation.org for more information.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 51,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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University of St. Francis Time Capsule

USF Alumni Association
alumni time capsule

University of St. Francis Time Capsule

Celebrating the Start of Our Second Century in 2021

Submit your photo by August 31!

Throughout the university’s rich history, we recognize that it’s the people who helped establish our legacy. Whether it was the Sisters who founded the institution, the students who spent years pursuing a degree, the faculty and staff who spent decades teaching, coaching, and helping, or the alumni who remain engaged and continue to support us, it has always been about the people.

Be part of this historic event!

The Alumni & Family Relations office invites you to submit a photo to be included in a time capsule that will be buried on the USF Quad! Choose a photo that best represents your legacy at St. Francis – whether hanging out on campus, in class, at a student event, athletics game, study abroad program, with friends, or any other St. Francis activity. Photos will be preserved in the USF archives and printed as 3×5” photos for inclusion in the capsule, which will be opened in 2045, the University of St. Francis’ 125th anniversary.

Save the date for the time capsule burial ceremony!

Homecoming & Reunion

Saturday, October 2, 2021

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