Monday March 20, 2017

Expressing Our Core Values

Faculty and staff have asked me how the executive branch's proposed budget will affect the University of Dayton.


A preliminary budget proposal is just that — preliminary, so we really don’t know the answer to that question yet. Still, I join others in higher education who are concerned about some of the proposed federal cuts because of how they could have an impact on our mission.

I am working with dedicated University staff, our external government relations consultants and other higher-ed leaders to make sure we understand the budget proposal, to monitor coming changes and to advocate for those programs and priorities that are essential to our students and our mission, as well as those that are consistent with our values. 

Time and again throughout our strategic visioning process, accessibility and affordability emerged as issues. On behalf of the University, I will reach out to our elected federal officials to express support for targeted programs that make a college education accessible for more students, such as the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG) program, Pell Grants, Teacher Quality Partnerships, work-study jobs and college preparation programs for underserved students.

As members of a research university, we believe that federal support for basic and applied research enhances America’s global competitiveness, stimulates job creation and drives our quality of life. Consistent with these beliefs, and in the support of programs that are important to the livelihood of our faculty, staff and students, I also will advocate for continued federal support of strong, independent research programs focused on those issues of greatest import to our country’s future. 

Like other higher-ed leaders, I have questions about proposed research funding levels and priorities for the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. I also am concerned by the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts, both of which hold a special place on a Marianist campus where we educate the whole person and cultivate learning and scholarship in the humanities and the arts. 

Our Catholic faith and our mission of social justice will motivate our discussions with our Congressional delegation about proposed cuts to environmental programs and programs designed to support the dignity of the most vulnerable Americans and provide a path out of poverty. 

Indeed, long before Pope Francis issued “an urgent challenge to protect our common home,” our students were deeply concerned about caring for the environment and those endangered by its degradation. We are hopeful that the budget ultimately will provide appropriate protection for clean air and water, as well as clean and alternative energy research. Similarly, we hope that the budget process prioritizes programs that assist low-income families, such as the Community Development Block Grant program that provides affordable housing. We strive to promote the dignity and common good of all people as part of our core values as a university with a strong Catholic heritage.

We do understand that the release of this executive budget is just the first step in a complex process in which there are multiple players. Members of both parties in Congress have already raised questions and expressed concerns about some of the proposed spending priorities and cuts, and, therefore, the budget is unlikely to be enacted as is on Oct 1. I encourage members of the University of Dayton community to follow your convictions, participate civilly and constructively in the political process, and express your personal views to elected officials. The American political process is a participatory one, and our collective and individual voices do make a difference.

As an institution, the University of Dayton will join with higher education organizations — the American Council on Education, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio — to determine the impact of potential federal cuts on our campuses. Together, we will advocate for what matters most — our mission to educate students to be wise and compassionate leaders in our communities and in the world.

I ask you to join me in prayer for all of our public servants who are working hard and for our benefit; may they have empathy and wisdom, and may they make responsible decisions that advance our country and improve the quality of life for the human family.

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