Update on Homecoming and Reunion Celebration

Joliet, Ill. – While the University of St. Francis (USF) is currently making plans for students and faculty to return to campus for classes this fall, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Joliet’s university to change, postpone and even cancel a variety of special events this year due to attendance restrictions outlined in Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. One major event that has been canceled is USF’s Homecoming and Reunion Celebration, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26.

“Due to the current situation, the inability to gather in large groups, and the priority of keeping our alumni safe, we have made the decision to cancel USF’s Homecoming and Reunion Celebration this year. While we are disappointed and know that our alumni are, as well, we want them to know that we are and will be working hard to make next year’s celebration the best yet and we look forward to everyone’s participation,” said Aubrey Knight, ’04, ’07, USF Director of Alumni & Family Relations.

The decision, while difficult to make, is understood due to the large number of attendees that many of the events that are part of USF’s Homecoming and Reunion Celebration draw annually, including the tailgate at Joliet Memorial Stadium (approximately 600-800 attendees) and the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner (approximately 150 attendees).

Knight added that planning is currently underway for festivities in 2021, but with an important change: splitting the Homecoming and Reunion Celebration into two separate events.

“Reunion Weekend is scheduled for June 5, 2021, and will focus on alumni by major as well as our honored year reunion classes (including those who we would’ve celebrated in 2020), while Homecoming will take place later that fall on a to-be-determined date and will focus more on alumni from USF’s athletic programs,” Knight added.

This separation allows the Alumni & Family Relations Office to better focus their efforts on the honored year reunion classes since there will be twice as many alumni to celebrate next year. “We want to make it an event to remember, and this split allows us to do just that,” said Knight.

As plans for 2021 are announced, they will also be made available at stfrancis.edu/alumni/hcrw. Alumni may also direct questions to USF Alumni & Family Relations Office at (877) 811-ALUM or alumni@stfrancis.edu.

: :

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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# #

Art Professor Delivers Care Packages

Joliet, Ill. – When University of St. Francis students transitioned to online coursework in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the change was clearly an unanticipated one. On-campus, face-to-face instruction was quickly replaced with off-campus, virtual instruction, and students were challenged with navigating the ins and outs of distance learning. In an effort to ensure that his art majors felt supported throughout their transition to this new learning environment, USF art professor Michael “Chester” Alamo-Costello, MFA, created personalized care packages that he mailed and delivered to students as a way to show his support and concern for them. 

“The packages consisted of an art, design or photography book, comics and some snacks. The contents of each care package was slightly different. For instance, I bought and passed on a photography book to a student concentrating in photography, while a student who plays a sport on campus would get an art book and a book related to another one of their athletic interests,” Alamo-Costello said.

Although the gesture was performed with the needs of his students in mind, Alamo-Costello said that there was more to it than just that.

“In all honesty, this was as much or probably more-so for me. The students have been patient and exemplary in this time of crisis. I needed to thank them for staying focused. Having taught at USF for more than 20 years, I feel very fortunate to continually work with quality young people,” he said.

In addition to the care packages, a series of non-credit summer projects have been organized for students as a way to keep them engaged with their studies.

“These activities help to keep our community connected. Many students are still isolated, and an item to work on appears to be a constructive outlet. Throughout the summer, via Zoom, we are meeting weekly to look at progress of projects and prepare for their return in August,” Alamo-Costello said.

: :

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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

USF Receives $10,000 Professional Development Award

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) is pleased to announce it has received a $10,000 NetVUE Professional Development Award through the Council of Independent Colleges. The award will fund a yearlong initiative (July 1, 2020–June 30, 2021) to foster the exploration of vocation and mentoring in our curricula and co-curricular activities.

Starting in August, Joliet’s only four-year university will launch the yearlong initiative focused on mentoring, mission and vocation as we celebrate our centennial and envision the next 100 years for fulfilling the mission of the University of St. Francis (USF). A kick-off workshop with breakout sessions will feature an invited keynote speaker, Dr. Kevin Godfrey, Associate Professor of Theology at Alvernia University in Pennsylvania, to connect USF’s Franciscan, Catholic identity with its call to educate the next generation of servant leaders. Building from the framework presented at the kick-off, USF will then host a series of “Engaging Mind and Spirit” monthly meetings focused on selected chapters from a book discussion open to all faculty and staff members – because vocational mentoring happens in a variety of professional relationships: faculty with students, staff with students, faculty with faculty, staff with staff, student with student, and supervisor with employee.

The initiative will culminate in May 2021 with all faculty and staff participating in our annual Strategy Day, which will be focused on bringing together the instruments, artifacts, metrics, and results to assess the initiative’s intended outcomes. This reporting out will also provide an opportunity to reflect upon and design new projects for continuing the connection of mentoring in the exploration of vocation for the university’s faculty and staff, and primarily, its students.

USF Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Beth Roth, Ph.D., believes the initiative’s alignment with USF’s mission will be of strong benefit to students as they pursue the answer to one of life’s most challenging questions: what am I called to do in this world?

“Our mission affirms that USF is a ‘welcoming community of learners,’ and a theological exploration of vocation will bolster our understanding of how mentoring fulfills our mission and dedication to student success,” Roth said.

USF President Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., also sees the benefit of continued and deeper engagement with other institutions of higher education through a partnership with NetVUE.

“USF has been doing so much in this area for so long across virtually all of its Colleges and majors. This is a wonderful opportunity to join and engage with a broader community of learners committed to helping students discern and respond to their callings,” Johnson said.

About NetVUE

According to the organization’s web page, “The Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) is a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. This initiative is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and members’ dues.

CIC administers NetVUE with guidance from an advisory council comprised of representatives from participating institutions.

Visit cic.edu/programs/NetVUE for more information.

: :

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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

Ecumenical Rally for Racial Justice

Ecumenical Rally for Racial Justice

Joliet, Ill. – The Diocese of Joliet presents a special virtual event, An Ecumenical Rally for Justice, on Saturday, June 13. The livestream will begin at 11 a.m. at dioceseofjoliet.org. The event is sponsored by the Office of the Bishop; the Office for Human Dignity, Justice & Peace Ministry; the Office for Christian Life, Ecumenical & Hispanic Ministry; the University of St. Francis; the Joliet Franciscans; and the Northern Illinois Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Diocese of Joliet invites you to join in prayer and reflection, and take a stance of solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters hurting from the sin of racism. A panel of speakers will call for repentance, a commitment to racial justice, and a new way forward. Speakers for the event include:

  • Bishop Richard E. Pates, Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Joliet;
  • Arvid C. Johnson, Ph.D., President of the University of St. Francis;
  • Bishop Craig Purchase, Sr., Pastor of Mt. Zion, and Vice President of the Central Western District of The United Holy Church of America;
  • Nancy Schramm, OSF, Director of Mission Formation, Pontifical Mission Office;
  • Vincent Cornelius, Will County Circuit Court Judge and former president of the Illinois State Bar Association;
  • Elisabeth Roman, Director of Hispanic and Ethnic Ministry for the Diocese of Joliet;
  • Bishop Jeffrey Clements, Bishop of the Northern Illinois Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America;
  • Lois Prebil, OSF, Co-founder of the Joliet Franciscan Anti-Racism Committee;
  • Pastor Kevin Comfort, Judson Church in Joliet, and;
  • Herb Brooks, Pastor of St. John M.B. Church, Will County Board Member.

Please contact Edith Avila Olea at eavilaolea@dioceseofjoliet.org for more information about this virtual event.

: :

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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

USF Invites You to Pause for Justice Every Monday in June

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Office of Institutional Diversity, in partnership with the Criminal and Social Justice Department, History and Political Science Department, Social Work Department, Diversity Council, Safety and Security Department, and University Ministry, invites the community to join with members of the USF community every Monday in June as part of the Pause for Justice Series. At 8:46 a.m. and 8:46 p.m. on June 8, 15, 22 and 29, USF will host virtual sessions lasting 8 minutes and 46 seconds each.

“Although we mourn the loss of George Floyd, we celebrate the thought that this is a social justice movement and urgent call for change. Pause for Justice has been coordinated to show support for Black Lives while listening, compassionately, to the experience and stories of others,” said USF Director of Institutional Diversity and Title IX Coordinator Allison Heard.

“Each program lasts for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds which is the amount of time that a Minneapolis Police Officer had his knee on George’s Floyd’s neck while he called out the words, ‘I can’t breathe. Please help me. Mama!’  Often times when people die, we say, ‘Rest in Peace.’  Peace is achieved when there is equal justice and service under the law and when systems and institutions are not created to oppress people of color and vulnerable populations.  Each Monday program is presented in a different format and is designed for people to come together in an effort to empathize with the plight of others. Wayne W. Dyer is quoted as saying, ‘Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.’ In that respect, we invite members of the Joliet and neighboring communities to come and discuss life as it is,” Heard added.

Individuals interested in participating should email Allison Heard at aheard@stfrancis.edu to confirm attendance and to receive a private meeting link.

Visit stfrancis.edu/institutional-diversity or follow @usf_diversity on Instagram for more information on upcoming programming and events.

: :

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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #

Office of Institutional Diversity to Host June 2020 Virtual Hot Topics Series

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) Office of Institutional Diversity, in partnership with the Criminal and Social Justice Department, Diversity Council, Safety and Security Department, and University Ministry, will host a virtual “Hot Topics” June Summer Series. Participation in the series is free of charge and open to the community.

Upcoming sessions in the series include:

  • Recognizing Institutional Racism and Systems of Oppression (June 10 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) This discussion will help people identify systemic forms of racism above and beyond conscious and unconscious bias and microaggressions;
  • COVID-19 and Racism-20 (June 17 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) This discussion will review our global pandemic and how racism, if unchecked and unchanged, travels through society like a disease. The theme of COVID-19 has been to “stop the spread.”  Like COVID-19, we encourage participants to identify things they can do to help cure the disease of racism and to stop the spread, and;
  • Voting as a Form of Power and Empowerment and Prayer at the Virtual Peace Pole (June 24 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.) This program discusses the civic action of voting and the important correlation to promoting structural, cultural, and institutional change. This program will highlight voting as an opportunity and action and will focus on what USF is doing to promote voter registration (conversation about specific candidates or the promotion of specific political parties will not be permitted).  The Office of Institutional Diversity, Diversity Council, and Social Work Department have also partnered with the League of Women Voters, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. to promote voter registration.  Campaigns will take place online during the summer months and both online and in-person when school begins. 

Individuals interested in participating should email USF Director of Institutional Diversity and Title IX Coordinator Allison Heard at aheard@stfrancis.edu to confirm attendance and to receive a private meeting link.

: :

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 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

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

# # #