Lilly Endowment Grant
for Gustavus Adolphus College
ST. PETER, Minn. (Oct. 30, 2000) – On Sept. 29, the Lilly Endowment
informed Gustavus that it had been awarded a five-year grant of $1,964,425
as part of the Endowment's Theological Exploration of Vocation Program.
Gustavus was one of 20 church-related liberal arts college and universities
from around the country to be recognized in this way and one of three in
Minnesota, the other two being St. John's University and Macalester College.
The general concern motivating the Lilly Endowment to propose this new
grant program was its observation that contemporary Americans tend to focus
narrowly on their careers and matters of individual concern rather than
on community needs. The Endowment proposed to help colleges try to
design programs that would encourage students to reflect more deeply on
their "vocations" -- that is, their ongoing active concern for the welfare
of the communities in which they live. "Vocation" is broader
than career. It has to do with the whole of a person's life, including
but not limited to parenting, political involvement, community service,
and a job or career. A primary goal of Lilly's grant program is to
encourage the development of a new generation of talented, creative and
committed lay and church leaders.
The award to Gustavus will support a comprehensive initiative to carry
out more effectively some key aspects of the College's mission statement,
and enhance the opportunities for students to reflect on their vocation
-- i.e. to consider the challenge of living lives of commitment to the
welfare of the whole community. The purpose is not to coerce anyone
to adopt a particular outlook -- only to provide opportunities for reflection
about the issue of vocation and to encourage students to integrate their
learning into their lives. The funded program will build upon the
ethos and climate of Gustavus by supporting existing programs, adding new
ones, and creating a Center to coordinate and intensify those vocation-oriented
activities. In so doing, it will provide students with the foundational
tools necessary for a lifelong exploration of their calling and a lifetime
of community leadership and service to others.
Although some aspects of the proposed program will involve others, particularly
high school students, the students of Gustavus Adolphus College are the
primary beneficiaries of the funded program. In order to reach as
broad an array of students as possible, the program will target specific
groups. The coherence of the proposed program will stem from two
sources: (1) a focus on Gustavus students and (2) an idea of what
factors stimulate and deepen a young person’s sense of vocation.
These factors include the following:
The proposed program has three primary categories of activities.
One set of initiatives will encourage reflection -- based on religious
and humanistic traditions -- on life as vocation, and the challenge for
all students to lead lives of commitment and service. It will include
the following, most of which build upon existing programs:
Attention to the concept of vocation, i.e. clarifying what it is, and providing
a common language of understanding.
Time for reflection regarding the larger questions of meaning and purpose
A safe place for reflection, a place where aspirations and idealism will
not be prematurely discouraged or, worse yet, disparaged.
Conversation with others about vocation.
A constructive engagement with "otherness," including those in need and
those from other religious traditions.
Mentor who are able to voice the challenges that push students to think
more deeply about serving the community in all facets of their lives.
Opportunities for reflection about the implications of experiential learning
The experience of one’s capacity to “make a difference.”
A second set of programs will encourage theological reflection on the meaning
of vocation and the importance of leadership positions in the church, both
lay and ordained. It will include the following, either enhancements
to existing programs or new efforts:
Opportunities for Student Reflection
Calling of the Professions
Annual Lilly Endowment Conference on Vocational Reflection
A third set of programs will help faculty and staff explore their own sense
of calling and their ability to challenge, guide and support the faith,
life and career journeys of their students. It will include the following:
Chapel Apprentice Program
"Inside Out: Leading with Passion and Purpose," a summer leadership
program initiated in 1999
Summer High School Theological Conference on Vocation and Leadership
Summer Church Camp Counselors Program
A Center for Vocational Reflection will be created to help coordinate these
many existing programs and activities, and to encourage others with the
potential to foster an awareness and exploration of vocation. This
Center will work with the wide range of existing offices and programs on
campus that could both inform and benefit from the funded initiatives.
A director will provide leadership for the Center and serve as project
director of the Lilly Endowment grant program. Until that position
is filled, Bob Weisenfeld will serve as interim director. Please
feel free to contact him for more detailed information about any aspect
of the Lilly program (507/933-7049; firstname.lastname@example.org).
First- and Second-year Faculty Orientation, the funding for which will
provide ongoing support for a new faculty mentoring program for first-
and second-year faculty, supported this year by an external grant from
Administrative and Support Staff Orientation
Summer Faculty Development Workshop
Year-long Faculty Collaboration Seminar (for three or four faculty each
year from different disciplines)