"This charge must not be a burden for you; on the contrary, you have to thank God most greatly that he has deigned to see to it that you are among those He wants to spend themselves in governing and safeguarding such a treasure [as] His own…Do not be afraid of not knowing and not being able to do what is rightly required in such a singular government. Do something. Get moving. Be confident. Risk new things. Stick with it. Get on your knees. Then be ready for big surprises."
St. Angela Merici
St. Angela Merici’s words inspire us to action in truly living the Mission of St. Ursula Academy, which we believe is to ultimately make a difference in the world. Living the Mission is a dynamic process and one that requires examination and reflection, asking the tough, uncomfortable questions and seeking input and feedback from many diverse voices. In fact, in December 2019, SUA’s Leadership Team and the Board of Trustees embarked on a five-month process, seeking input on this topic as part of developing SUA’s next strategic plan.
HOW can we truly live the Mission of SUA? This fundamental question, along with many others, informed the survey and feedback process that we undertook during the ensuing five months. We engaged with more than 850 SUA constituents, including 400 alumnae, listening and learning how SUA could, as our Mission states, transform each young woman through intellectual inquiry, personal growth, spiritual formation, and compassionate service, empowering her to lead confidently in a global society.
The voices we heard were loud and clear and were punctuated last week when members of the St. Ursula Academy community implored us to take a stand and make a statement condemning structural racism and injustice. It is clear from the survey results and the cries of the alumnae that they recognize the potential of a school that can prepare young women as leaders in a global society—which means preparing young women to be a force against the deadly sin of racism.
The voices of our alumnae who have called us to act could not have come at a better time, and some of what we’ve heard from our students, alumnae, and families in the past few weeks, as protests for basic human rights have swept across our nation and world, is a reflection of our own, internal awareness and responses to SUA’s Strategic Planning Survey. On May 28, 2020, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved St. Ursula Academy’s next strategic plan: Making A Difference.
Of paramount importance, and specifically articulated in Making A Difference, is a commitment to building a more inclusive school community and intentionally diverse Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, and student body. Inclusion and diversity have a foothold—and yet to be discovered opportunities—within strategies tied to Intellectual Inquiry, Personal Growth, Spiritual Formation and Compassionate Service, Leadership in a Global Society, and Ursuline Community.
Right now, this is what we know:
- If we include more diverse authors and histories in our curriculum, we achieve our stated strategic goals around Intellectual Inquiry.
- If we foster an environment that affirms the self-worth and dignity of each person, we achieve our stated strategic goals around Personal Growth.
- If we integrate Catholic Catechesis, which demands that “social and cultural discrimination…must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design,” we achieve our stated strategic goals around Spiritual Formation and Compassionate Service.
- If we integrate Cultural Intelligence in our community for administrators, teacher-leaders, and staff, as well as students, we achieve our stated strategic goals around Leadership in a Global Society.
- If we expand the cultural and ethnic makeup of our student body, faculty and staff, and Board of Trustees, we achieve our stated strategic goals around Ursuline Community.
We know that one additional text, lesson, or assembly is not enough to begin real, meaningful change around structural racism and injustice. By enrolling one more non-white student, hiring one more non-white educator, and recruiting one more non-white board member, we have become “more diverse,” but we have not done enough to become the intentionally diverse teaching and learning community that we strive to be. We must do more.
Therefore, we will continue our commitment as St. Ursula Academy Leadership to listen, learn, and act. We will listen to voices that need to be heard, learn from the experiences that we have not lived, and act from what we have learned for the benefit of each young woman at St. Ursula Academy. Our Mission is to prepare each young woman for college and for life, a life that we hope includes practicing anti-racism and working to end social injustices.
More on SUA’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan: Making A Difference will be communicated in the months ahead, and we hope that you will partner with us in our goals to do just that: make a difference.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Mary Werner '74
Nichole Flores '89
Chair, Board of Trustees