Now in its 28th year, the Founders' Day celebration is part of a weeklong series of events centered on reflection of the founding of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur by Saint Julie Billiart in 1804 and the founding of Emmanuel College by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1919. The event provides an opportunity for the Emmanuel community to reflect on the SNDdeN mission today.
This year’s commemoration was marked with a faculty panel hosted by featured speaker Sister Evelyn Ronan, SNDdeN,an adjunct campus minister at Emmanuel. The panel consisted of Associate Professor of Chemistry Aren Gerdon, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies Laurie Johnston, Senior Lecturer of Biology Ana Otero and Assistant Professor of Education Lisa Schneier.
Members of the panel shared their thoughts on the hallmarks of a Notre Dame de Namur Learning Community after participating in a faculty retreat with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Gerdon connected the hallmarks to Emmanuel’s mission of providing service to both other members of the Emmanuel community and the global community.
“I immediately thought about myself and all of us but our students, too,” he said. “If you are someone on campus who works closely with our students, or if you’re a student working with first-year students, or if you’re volunteering with elementary school kids in the neighborhood, you can really have an impact by mentoring, which really speaks to that idea of educating for life.”
While a large part of Emmanuel’s mission is rooted in service, another important component of the College’s mission and legacy is a dedication to social justice initiatives. Otero echoed Gerdon’s statement and went on to explain the importance of bringing the College’s commitment to social justice into the classroom regardless of what discipline is being taught.
“We need to teach in ways that help to inspire students to work for social justice because this is becoming increasingly important,” said Otero. “I do believe that educators make a difference and that’s why I am what I am. I think social justice is not discipline in itself—there is space for it in all disciplines.”
Panel members challenged the Emmanuel community to carry out the hallmarks discussed during the panel in their own daily lives, starting with their lives on the College’s campus.
“As an educator, I am responsible for teaching my students how to address instances of social injustice,” said Otero. “I carry out these hallmarks in every class by sharing my values surrounding social justice and explaining how I arrived at those values, as well as connecting social justice to my area of expertise.”
Both Scheier and Johnston discussed the hallmarks and how they continue to guide the College’s core values today.
“It makes sense that any learning community would be centered around hope,” said Johnston, referencing the first hallmark. “It guides our students as they start their undergraduate career and it sustains our instructors. In order to continue to sustain this hope, it is important for our community to rely on the inspiration of the Sisters in the face of injustice in today’s society.”