A hallmark of a Jesuit education is a restlessness that fuels the search for knowledge, meaning, and the reality of God. That restlessness drives Jesuit schools toward big questions about their purpose and responsibility in the world. The Mission Priority Examen (MPE) provides space and structure for each Jesuit college and university to undertake serious discussions about how the campus community understands its mission; establishes goals for its future; and realizes those goals in the years to come.

Among the overarching questions that animate the MPE are:

  • What makes a college or university Jesuit?
  • What does Jesuit sponsorship of a college or university mean today?
  • How will the 28 schools of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) and our Associate Members live out their Jesuit and Catholic mission going forward?

An experimental phase of the MPE began in 2016, yielding important insights for growth at each school. A second phase was launched at the start of the 2021-22 academic year: each AJCU school is participating sequentially over the next seven years. It is our hope that this repeating cycle of reflection, goal-setting, and action will strengthen the mission of Jesuit higher education within and among the schools, and help it flourish well into the future.

A Collaborative Effort

The MPE is designed as a collaborative undertaking, rooted in the Ignatian tradition. While elements of it are reminiscent of academic accreditation, the underlying spirit is quite different:

  • An invitation by the regional Jesuit Provincial initiates each school’s participation in the process and underscores particular areas of emphasis, on which the college or university will focus its reflection.
  • After wide-ranging campus discussions, the school writes a brief Self-study and puts forth two to four Jesuit Mission Priorities that lend clarity to its mission plans and commitments. The organizing document for the schools’ self-studies, and the MPE process as a whole, is Characteristics of Jesuit Higher Education: A Guide for Mission Reflection.
  • A Peer Team of trusted AJCU colleagues — jointly appointed by AJCU and the Province — visit the campus to engage in discussions with various campus constituencies, and provide feedback on the school’s Mission Priorities.
  • The Jesuit Superior General reviews all submitted materials, in order to reaffirm the school’s Jesuit, Catholic mission and provide guidance for its growth.
  • Finally, the school implements its Mission Priorities and connects them to its strategic plan and other key documents and projects.

For more information, please read Why Call It An Examen?