Community Programming to Address Racial and Social Inequities

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has a rich tradition of being dedicated to the facilitation of healing. Through its foundational connections to Saint Francis and Saint Clare of Assisi, its commitment to anti-racism as evidenced in the university’s Founding Congregation – the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate – and their corporate stance against racism in all its forms, and through its educational programs in the areas of nursing, radiation therapy and other health sciences, USF is dedicated to serving Joliet and the Will County area, especially in times of need. Now in these unprecedented times, USF is stepping forward to help our community heal through a series of events made possible by grant funding awarded through the Illinois Department of Human Services’ “Healing Illinois” Grant Program.

USF’s initiative, “Our Town:  Healing Joliet and Will County through Courageous Conversations”, is designed to help the Joliet region’s university to engage residents in dialogue and educational initiatives that result in community understanding and healing of racial and social inequities. “Our Town,” as emphasized by USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., suggests that we must work collaboratively to create the type of community that is life-affirming and one that affords each person equal dignity and respect.

For more information on the following events or to learn of new, upcoming events, visit the Healing Joliet and Will County through Courageous Conversations Facebook page at facebook.com/usfhealingjolietgrant or contact USF Director of Institutional Diversity and Title IX Coordinator Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

Virtual Book Discussion with Ernest Crim III, Author of Black History Saved My Life
Tuesday, January 26 | 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Event administered virtually through Zoom

Author Ernest Crim III will discuss how his viral hate crime led to an awakening. Join us for an engaging conversation to discuss how we can use these tragedies as the driving force and impetus for healing oneself and our communities. This workshop is open to everyone, with a particular emphasis on young adults and men. The first 75 attendees will receive a free, autographed copy of Black History Saved My Life. A book trailer is also available on YouTube and can be found by searching the keywords “Black History Saved My Life Ernest Crim III”.

To register for this free event, visit healingjolietandwillcounty@gmail.com. For additional information, please contact Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

Healing Racism and the Urgency of Now with Troy Cicero, Consultant and Trainer, MulticultuREAL Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, February 2 |  6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Event administered virtually through Zoom

Join Troy Cicero to discuss the unique characteristics of Joliet and Will County and how we can work together in this new year to heal racism.  Troy Cicero will discuss the urgency of doing something now and the responsibility we have for contributing to that synergy of success.

To register for this free event, visit healingjolietandwillcounty@gmail.com. For additional information, please contact Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

Virtual Community Book Discussion with Dr. Stacy Dewald, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
Tuesday, February 23 | 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Event administered virtually through Zoom

Dr. Stacy Dewald teaches Criminal and Social Justice at the University of St. Francis. Her research focuses on implicit bias in the Criminal Justice system and how systemic racism perpetuates the normalization of unfair practices designed to immobilize people of color. This book discussion will illuminate segregationist  policies and practices through the eyes of the book’s author, Michelle Alexander. This community discussion focuses on strategies we must develop to dismantle racism in an effort to create a societal paradigm shift. Pre-reading is not required but is strongly encouraged. The first 20 registrants will receive a copy of the book.

To register for this free event, visit healingjolietandwillcounty@gmail.com. For additional information, please contact Allison Heard at 815-740-5025 or aheard@stfrancis.edu.

About the Illinois Department of Human Services’ “Healing Illinois” Grant Program

Healing Illinois is a racial healing initiative of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), in partnership with The Chicago Community Trust, designed to distribute $4.5 million grants to organizations across the state to begin, or continue, the work of racial healing.

The major goals of this project are to: build and advance knowledge and understanding of racial healing and racial equity in communities across the state; increase trust and relationship-building, among the residents of Illinois; provide opportunities for communities and individuals to begin to heal from the harms caused by racism, and build the foundation for long-term racial healing and anti-racism in Illinois.

For more information on the program, visit dhs.state.il.us and search “Healing Illinois Grant”.

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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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Women Who Light Our Lives

USF’s Women’s History Month Committee seeks to highlight women in our community who “light our way.” From students to alumni, from community members to university community members, we want to hear about them.  Who are some women lighting our way and bringing light to our lives? Who is out there doing great things?

Our committee will review submissions for inclusion in our short, virtual program of “Women Who Light Our Lives” to be held in March, with a date to be determined. Nominators will be contacted to confirm inclusion in the program.

Please complete the linked nomination form by clicking here, and submit a 1-3 minute video (.mp4). Your video can be a voice-over recording of a picture of your honoree, an interview with your honoree, or some other creative way to present what we need to know about her.

If you have any questions about the submissions, the event, or have trouble with completing the form, please contact Joanna Kourtidis at jkourtidis@stfrancis.edu.

Submission Deadline: 2/14/2021

Caritas Auction Offers Clinic with WNBA’s Quigley and Vandersloot

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is celebrating its 64th Caritas Scholarship Ball virtually on Saturday, January 30, 2021. Each year, the Caritas Committee solicits unique, outstanding live and silent auction items from community members. This year is no different with many opportunities to support student scholarships!

One auction item for the event is extremely unique and has strong ties to the Joliet area and to USF. What is the item? More importantly, how much is “bigger thinking” and a “brighter purpose” worth to you?

WNBA Chicago Sky stars Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot, along with members of the University of St. Francis women’s basketball team, will host a clinic at USF’s Pat Sullivan Center in the summer of 2021. The clinic will be designed to meet the needs of the attendees. Because the number of participants for the clinic can be as many as 30, you are invited and encouraged to go in with a group of friends on any bid.

What if you love this auction item, but don’t have anyone that can use it?  Consider donating it to your favorite Joliet-area non-profit agency!

So how can you bid on this unique experience? Bidding, which is open to the public, will open Monday, January 25 and close on Saturday, January 30 at 3 p.m. Because this item is being auctioned through a closed bidding process, please email your bid to Regina Block at rblock@stfrancis.edu. She will confirm receipt of your bid. The winner will be announced during the Caritas program on the evening of January 30. All proceeds will directly support USF scholarships. With all the uncertainty that this year has brought, there is one thing that USF students know they can count on, and that is your support.

For more information on this program, email rblock@stfrancis.edu.

About Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot

USF holds a special meaning for Allie and the Quigley family. Allie’s father, Pat, and her mother, Chris, are both inductees of the athletic department’s Hall of Fame.  The basketball floor at USF is also named Pat Quigley Court in memory of her father.  Allie’s stepfather, Don Strle, also played basketball for the Fighting Saints and was a teammate of Pat, while Allie’s sister, Sam, coached the USF women’s basketball team for five years.

Allie is a three-time WNBA All-Star, and both a two-time WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year and All-Star 3-Point Contest champion. Courtney, meanwhile, holds many WNBA assist records and has been named an All-WNBA selection three times and an All-Star twice in her career. Both women have had great basketball careers both in the United States and internationally.

Even more than their professional talents, both Allie and Courtney demonstrate the University of St. Francis’ core values of Respect, Integrity, Compassion and Service through their gift of this clinic.

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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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Spirit of Christmas Perseveres through a Unique Season

Joliet, Ill. – This past summer, the radio antenna tower for WCSF 88.7 FM, the University of St. Francis’ (USF) radio station, was blown off its mounts atop Tower Hall on the main USF campus in Joliet during a strong thunderstorm. This challenged the station to transition its broadcast to a temporary, but less effective, tower. While the normal range for the radio station reaches as far as Mokena, Morris, Wilmington and Bolingbrook, the temporary signal reached only one or two miles. What was thought to be a short-term challenge lasted much longer than initially anticipated and impacted the reach of the largely popular annual Spirit of Christmas programming, serving as yet another reminder that 2020 was a year in which anything can and will happen.

Despite the challenge, WCSF 88.7 FM persevered. Through the persistence of WCSF station manager Anthony Musiala and Spirit of Christmas producer Don Burke (with the support of USF Administration), a new tower and antenna were scheduled for fabrication and installation, but not before the start of Spirit of Christmas programming on Thanksgiving Day. Understandably, listeners were concerned when they realized that couldn’t hear Burke’s familiar voice, programs like “Hardrock, Coco and Joe” and “The Cinnamon Bear”, and the diverse variety of holiday songs for which the Spirit of Christmas is known.

On the Spirit of Christmas Facebook page (facebook.com/WCSF887), one listener posted, “I can’t wait. I am listening to a static radio music now. But I love it so much that I don’t care.”

This listener wasn’t alone, either. Dozens of other listeners also called, posted comments and emailed stating that they were missing their favorite Christmas programming.

In the week leading up to Christmas, the installation of the new tower and antenna finally began. The antenna mounts were bolted atop Tower Hall and, in the week after Christmas, the new antenna elements and cabling were hoisted up, secured and connected. While not quite a Christmas miracle, WCSF 88.7 FM was finally broadcasting at full power again before the end of the calendar year.

In an effort to provide even just a small portion of the Spirit of Christmas programming listeners had missed, Burke and Musiala extended Spirit of Christmas for an additional 48 hours, with programming scheduled to conclude on Monday, January 4.

The extension included a “Cinnamon Bear” marathon, which immediately received a warm reception. On the Spirit of Christmas Facebook page, one listener posted, “My children always loved The Cinnamon Bear! I was sad that we missed a lot of it this year, so this is a real treat. Thank you!”

One caller left a voice message that effectively summed up the feelings of many listeners. The caller stated, “I simply want to thank you for the beautiful Christmas music. It brought such joy into my life. I don’t have a home computer so I wasn’t able to listen to it without it being on the radio. So to go a whole month without it, I have to tell you, it was really tough. I’ve been listening to the program for the last 20 years. It was one of my most treasured traditions. It was actually kind of painful, I know it sounds silly but it was. I’ve listened to it almost nonstop for the last 4 days. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God bless you for all that you do. You and your program are a true blessing. I wish you an extraordinary New Year and blessings to all of you. Thank you.”

The moral of the story is that we should not take things for granted. Special thanks are extended to Don Burke for another outstanding season of Spirit of Christmas programming, even under the most trying of circumstances.

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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 Students Earn CVS Health Foundation Scholarships

Joliet, Ill. – Three students pursuing a family nurse practitioner (FNP) degree at the University of St. Francis (USF) have recently been named recipients of the CVS Health Foundation Scholarship. Each of the students – Chao Moua, Eva Cybulski, and Renalda Tomic – were awarded a $1,000 scholarship that has been credited toward their student accounts.

USF’s Leach College of Nursing administered the application and selection process at the university level. Applicants are required to be students in good standing in the FNP program. Additional consideration was given to students who are military veterans, as well as those who are bilingual or a member of a minority or underserved population.

“We are appreciative of the financial support offered to our students through the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program. The investment that this support makes locally continues to be paid forward as our graduates continue to serve our communities,” said USF Leach College of Nursing dean Ebere Ume, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., PHN.

About the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program

The CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program is our contribution to supporting family nurse practitioners and physician assistants of tomorrow as they complete their education. Through this scholarship program, the CVS Health Foundation FNP/PA Scholarship Program is proud to support its affiliated academic partners through funding that allows them to offer scholarships to their eligible FNP/PA students.

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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 Awarded CIC NetVUE Grant to Support Two Publication Projects

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) was recently awarded a $40,000 grant through the Council of Independent Colleges’ (CIC) NetVUE Grant for Reframing the Institutional Saga that will allow Joliet’s university to create two publications, one comprised of faculty essays and another comprised of student essays that will focus on both its past and its future.

“This CIC NetVUE grant challenges the university to reexamine its historical narrative in order to craft and articulate an institutional vocation going forth that responds to the needs of the present and future,” said USF Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Beth Roth, Ph.D. “To undertake this challenge, we proposed two publication projects. The first is a volume of 100 essays by faculty who share personal vignettes of how teaching and service align with the university’s core values of respect, service, integrity, and compassion in the past and in the future. The second book is a companion volume that collects student writing and artistic contributions on how our core values shape the way they engage with current situations, such as the pandemic, structural racism, the immigration crisis, and climate change.”

Funding through the grant will allow for a two-year production timeline that includes writing retreats and group meetings, and will culminate with a presentation event for the campus community in spring 2023. USF English and foreign languages professor Kathryn Duys, Ph.D., will oversee the projects and head the projects’ overall leadership group.

“Consistent with the Franciscan tradition of honoring each individual entity, this project to shape our vocation will arise from the broad community of teachers and learners to gather discrete experiences and collectively assert that USF is a privileged place of compassion and wisdom, a sanctuary university dedicated to sustainability, racial justice, and civil dialogue,” Duys noted.

The NetVUE grant award comes at a welcome time for USF as it prepares to close a centennial celebration that spanned all of 2020, but that was also heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last spring and as part of the centennial celebration, Roth invited USF faculty to contribute to a volume of essays modeled after NPR’s “This I Believe” series. The goal was to receive contributions from 100 faculty for our 100 years that would showcase the university’s commitment to teaching and learning. However, just as USF’s centennial celebrations were affected by the pandemic, so was this project.

“Like most universities, all USF classes went fully remote in late March. Faculty focused intensely on learning new technologies, sharing expertise with colleagues, maintaining quality standards, and helping students stay on track to meet their academic goals amidst all the changes that began in the spring and have continued well into the fall. Despite the increased workload and rapid pace of change, we did have 18 faculty who contributed essays to the centennial project by the June deadline, but our faculty’s focus was heavily pointed toward academics,” Roth said.

In light of this, Roth said that this new grant opportunity could not have come at a better time for USF.

“The CIC NetVUE grant for Reframing the Institutional Saga will allow USF to reboot this book project and raise the bar. We had just begun celebrating our centennial in 2020 when the pandemic suddenly compelled us to rethink what we do, reinvent how we do it, and reconsider why,” Roth said.

“The publication projects that we proposed will result in two tangible books, but it will also create a repository of digital content ideal for redistribution over a number of channels and platforms as podcasts, digital narrative projects, and social media posts, recrafted in student internships before being passed to USF Marketing,” Duys added. “This new discourse will support curriculum redesign with new pedagogies and strategies to engage our communities in projects that will prepare USF graduates to critically and creatively ‘contribute to the world through service and leadership’ (USF Mission Statement).”

The $40,000 grant supported by the Council of Independent Colleges and Lilly Endowment, Inc. is the second award USF has received from CIC NetVUE (Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education) this year. In June, USF received a $10,000 NetVUE Professional Development Award to fund a yearlong initiative (July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021) designed to foster the exploration of vocation and mentoring in our curricula and co-curricular activities.

“We are grateful for the opportunities provided by NetVUE that challenge us to examine our institutional identity and guide students to lead lives of purpose and meaning,” Roth offered. Duys added, “We look forward to sharing our book projects with the community.”

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Currently celebrating 100 years of higher education rooted in Franciscan values, 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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