Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine University is challenging students to identify personal goals and further develop or pursue a life calling as part of a new $50,000 grant-funded initiative to strengthen and integrate the importance of vocation discovery across every academic discipline.
Benedictine – the fastest-growing university in the country – is one of 34 universities and colleges nationwide to receive the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVue) Program Development Grant.
NetVue is a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. It is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges with generous financial support from the Lilly Foundation and members’ dues.
The grant will allow the University to expand concepts already highlighted in a new course, “Why Work?” by integrating them throughout the core curriculum. The grant will also provide faculty and staff with workshops and resources for relating the Benedictine Hallmarks to the theological language of vocation in academic and co-curricular programs, said Christine Fletcher, Ph.D., associate professor of Theology.
“We are talking about vocation in the sense of finding a purpose in life, so we think this fits right in there with our Benedictine values and hallmarks,” Fletcher said. “And it is going to align with those values in a way that this will be open to people of other religions and especially to people of no religion, who also still want to find a purpose in life.”
In the new course, students identify their values and interests and examine how they fit with career opportunities and responsibilities in their chosen field of study. They also discuss work/life balance as well as the responsibilities of working in community and giving back through volunteer and charitable activities.
As part of the course, students develop an electronic portfolio that details their strengths, experience and future goals.
Fletcher applied for the grant to help University students better identify careers that align with their personal values and goals, while also matching their compensatory expectations.
“It’s not just about finding a meaningful career,” Fletcher said. “It’s also about, ‘What can I do that will allow me to pay my bills and give me a meaningful life, and how can I mesh these two things together?’ I saw students really grappling with that.
“This is a way of focusing their self-discovery on the really major questions of life,” Fletcher added. “And the feedback I am getting from students is that it really helps them to focus on the bigger issues.”
Benedictine strives to provide students with greater opportunities for self-assessment, academic and career exploration with one-on-one guidance. The NetVue Program Development Grant will contribute to the University’s ongoing efforts in this area so that students are able to more intently and purposefully identify a career path that leads to success in work and in life.
Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2001-2011 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.