Jennifer Hamlin Church
Associate VP for Advancement &
Director of Alumni Relations
Why We Do What We Do. And Why It Matters.
At Fall Convocation, Religious Studies Professor Ian Bell spoke to a standing-room only crowd in St. Dominic Chapel. Convocation is the official kick-off of each new academic year and the speech by each year’s Eileen Rice Teaching Award winner is always a highlight.
In an address titled “Why We Do the Things We Do,” Professor Bell talked about why he is so deeply committed to Siena Heights—and what makes this place so special.
It all comes down to mission and identity.
Siena Heights is a Catholic university where “faith and reason walk hand in hand,” he said: Unlike many colleges, where education is considered strictly intellectual, Siena Heights actively encourages students “to ask questions about faith and religion,” without judging or forcing the answers. “The encounter with one’s faith—be it Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim or other—is not only tolerated but encouraged.”
We want you to become more competent, purposeful and ethical, Dr. Bell told the students; and to do so in an environment that respects the dignity of all. Why? Because “we desire good things for you”—a good life and the kind of success that is defined not by wealth or possessions but by whether the human community is “better off because of the choices you make and the actions you take.”
He ended with a plea: “Take your identity and mission seriously. Embrace questions of meaning. Explore the arts. Examine the workings of the world. Become a better thinker. If you do this, you will be able to define yourself not in terms of what you do, but in terms of who you are.” And, he added, “You will know why you do the things you do.”