From the President:
Reflecting on the Dominican Tradition
Recently, I attended the biennial Sponsorship Conference for all the institutions sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While attending, I had the opportunity to reflect on leadership and what it means to be a university founded in the Dominican tradition.
The following are some of my thoughts:
Because we are part of a Dominican establishment, we are all family, we are all related. Each of us are leaders in our own way. How do we lead? Is anyone following? When St. Dominic formed the Order in 1214, he believed that the Prior of the Order or the Master General should realize that he was the first among equals. That’s also how I think leaders should see themselves today. When we lead, we must be servant-leaders, putting the needs of the institution/organization/community and the people we serve first.
How do we live the mission of Siena Heights University? Many of us have multiple interactions each day. What is the quality of those interactions? Do we speak with respect and listen with interest, or do we dismiss people as well as what they have to offer? Right relationships must be the foundation on which our mission is built. It can’t be assumed. It is an intentional act. If relationships are off-kilter, then it is difficult to sincerely live our mission. Mission is not something to be written on a piece of paper and tucked away. It is something that must live and breathe, grow and deepen each day.
It is easy to abuse power. It is a human weakness to feel like we are better than others or that we have the power to control others. But that is not the way. We must stay off that path and respect others and foster the dignity of all people. We must lead with love in our hearts, humility in our souls and justice in our minds. We must be sincere in all we do. We must act with integrity and recognize the gifts that others have to offer so that they can reach their full potential.
Foster the spiritual development of people as well. People look to us for that as they crave more depth and meaning in their lives. And most importantly, walk with people on their journeys. There will be times when this is a challenge, but use Jesus as your example. Did He abandon the disciples when they didn’t quite get His message? No, and we must do the same.
Finally, for what do we stand? If we believe in the mission of Siena Heights, we must take a stand on issues of injustice. We must be more like Catherine of Siena, who spoke the truth when it was not easy to do so. Sometimes what we say will not be popular. But we must say it anyway.
I end by saying pray always, study often, build community and preach—with or without words. Walk with each other on the journey, and always be peacefully uncomfortable so you will be impelled to be and do more. But most of all, love. For if we are not filled with love and joy in our hearts, then we are no witness to the Gospel.
Blessings on each one of you, and continue to live the mission of Siena Heights University in your lives.
Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD