As part of Marymount University’s “Founders Week” in February, Sister Catherine Vincie, RSHM, PhD, visited the campus in Arlington, Virginia, to deliver her presentation on RSHM Identity: Animating Lives and Institutions. Since its founding, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary have always worked to bring value and attention to the human person’s body and spirit in order to strengthen both our individual spirituality and the spirituality of others to help support the common good.
In a year filled with change and turmoil throughout the world, Marymount has demonstrated this mission in a variety of ways. This is perhaps best exemplified through its decision to bring all students back to campus again in Fall 2021 for a complete return to in-person learning, all while navigating the ongoing complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic. Marymount’s students had attended classes in a hybrid format during the 2020-21 academic year, following only a few months of fully-remote education from March-August 2020.
Early in the 2021-22 academic year, Marymount’s “Saints Rebound” program strove to bring students back safely though an emphasis on required COVID-19 vaccinations, additional safety protocols around campus and a continued investment in mental health support and resources. Marymount’s faculty, staff and students were diligent in their vaccination efforts, helping the University achieve a 98 percent vaccination rate. In the midst of the highly transmissible Omicron variant in December, Marymount announced additional steps to look after the health of its own community. This included a COVID-19 booster requirement and partnering with the health care startup, Curative, to provide no-cost COVID-19 testing right on campus, for use by members of the University as well as the broader regional community.
Diversity, equity and inclusion
Placing a high degree of importance on the physical, mental and emotional health of Marymount students, faculty and staff was a necessary task at an important time, but other types of health and healing were also addressed. As the country continues to tackle the issue of racial justice, Marymount continued to prioritize its efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion.
In October, the University was selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to host a new Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center. Through a grant proposal titled Unity through Diversity: Growing Our Strengths as Saints, several goals were set, including fostering racial healing and relationship building in the Marymount and Arlington communities, as well as generating further support for Dreamers and immigrant students.
In January, Marymount commemorated the National Day of Racial Healing through a virtual meeting of community members. In March, the University held its first-ever Dreamers Symposium, which served as an opportunity for students, staff and community members from local Northern Virginia institutions to share their experiences about how to better serve undocumented students.
Legacy is also an important pillar for the RSHM, and the concept of legacy is always cognizant through the congregation’s interactions with individuals across the world. Following this example, Marymount has made numerous innovations in the academic curriculum to produce a legacy that will last for generations. These include new undergraduate programs in Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering, Cybersecurity, Neuroscience and Cloud Computing, as well as partnering with the business startup Placemakr to launch new Hospitality and Innovation tracks for graduate MBA and IT students.
In May, Marymount received a generous gift to establish the Center for Professional Ethics and Social Responsibility, which will serve as a central hub for professional research, education, leadership and community engagement related to ethical conduct and the social responsibilities of individuals and institutions. With the concept of “truth” being more important than ever, the Center will foster dialogue, training, research and problem solving in order to impact change and commitment to social responsibility at the individual, professional and community levels.
Through these examples and more, Marymount is following the RSHM’s mission to create positive change in the University community and beyond while serving the greater good. An institution with a strong faith Marymount University foundation, Marymount is striving to tackle some of society’s most complex issues to better assist and prepare its students. The lessons from the RSHM will continue to serve as a reminder for the University as it educates its current students and future generations of Saints.