By Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
This issue of Connections is bittersweet, as we pay tribute to Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU), which will no longer be affiliated with the Society of Jesus after this academic year. We invited a number of alumni and friends to share memories from their time at WJU, from members of the first graduating classes (when the University was called Wheeling College) to graduates in the new Millennium. We hope that you will enjoy reading their tributes and learning more about the special place that so many people called home for more than 60 years.
I’ve been fortunate to visit Wheeling Jesuit twice, during my twelve years at AJCU. It is indeed a special place, filled with some of the friendliest people you could hope to meet! The first time I went was with the AJCU staff for a summer retreat. Fr. Charlie Currie, S.J. was our president at the time, and he was especially eager to be our carpool driver to WJU—after all, this was his “home away from home,” where he served as president for almost a decade. While it was a joy to hear Fr. Currie talk about his time at WJU during the 4-hour ride, it was not exactly a joy sitting in the back seat…those were some winding roads that took us out of DC to get to West Virginia, and my colleagues and I had to grab onto the car doors of the “Currie-Coaster” more than once for safety! But we managed to arrive safe and sound, and very grateful for our introduction to Wheeling from Fr. Currie.
For my second visit in 2015, I was very eager to drive to Wheeling by myself, and really get to appreciate the path toward Appalachia from the driver’s seat. On that particular trip, I got to spend time with my former colleagues from JesuitNET, who worked tirelessly to bring Jesuit distance education to the margins, all from an old office building in downtown Wheeling, WV. You would never know what was happening in that building (just a mile away from campus) to make education possible for people who lived a continent away from ours. I think it was keeping consistent with the original mission for founding a Jesuit university in Appalachia: to bring higher education to the margins, where people needed it the most.
Our AJCU network will not be the same without Wheeling Jesuit University, and we will never forget the way it helped to shape men and women for others for so many years. We now have 27 full member institutions, and three associate members—our newest associate member, Newman College in Australia, is featured in this issue, and we are looking forward to sharing more news from Newman (as well as Campion College in Canada and St. John’s College in Belize) in the years to come.
This is the last issue of Connections for the academic year; we will return with a new issue in September. On behalf of all of us at AJCU, we wish you a wonderful and restful summer!