Typically, a Jesuit college or university will be asked by its regional Provincial to participate in the Mission Priority Examen (MPE) a year or more before the process launches, allowing the school to tailor the experience to its own needs and circumstances. The MPE is led by an on-campus Self-study Committee appointed by the school’s President. This Self-study Committee is tasked with:
- Reviewing the Jesuit, Catholic Mission Priorities that the school has emphasized in recent years;
- Engaging members of the campus community in conversations about the school’s future mission commitments, especially with respect to areas emphasized by the Provincial;
- Recommending specific Jesuit Mission Priorities that are now called for, in light of campus and Provincial input;
- Writing a Self-study Report in the spirit of an Ignatian Examen (i.e., expressing institutional successes and challenges in a spirit of freedom and hope); and
- Hosting a Peer Visitor Team and, with the President, considering carefully their recommendations.
Rooted in the gratitude that marks Ignatian spirituality, the Self-study Committee searches, on behalf of the campus community, for the Magis (i.e., the deeper and more universal good). Committee members recommend two to four Jesuit Mission Priorities, with the understanding that many other objectives may cluster under a single priority. Some schools create their Self-studies with an eye toward the next formal academic accreditation visit and include the Self-study Report in their accreditation materials. For the purposes of the MPE, however, the granular documentation of an accreditation is not necessary.
This Year-by-Year List of Schools Participating in the Mission Priority Examen shows the order in which schools will participate in the MPE over a seven-year period. It also includes the names and contact information for Self-study Committee Chairs.
All schools conducting the MPE rely on a common document: Characteristics of Jesuit Higher Education: A Guide for Mission Reflection. Issued jointly by AJCU and the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, Characteristics provides an important, common framework for the process.
The document offers detailed background on the purpose of the MPE; an overview of the MPE process; a glossary of terms; and readings/questions on seven themes:
- Leadership and Public Commitment to the Mission
- The Academic Life
- The Pursuit of Faith, Justice & Reconciliation
- Promoting an Ignatian Campus Culture
- Service to the Church
- Relationship to the Society of Jesus
- Institutional Integrity
Characteristics was developed for use in the MPE process, but it is also a valuable tool for mission education among trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni/ae. Printed copies of Characteristics are available from the AJCU office for a nominal fee; online copies may be downloaded here, and reproduced without charge.
When the Provincial invites a school to participate in the MPE, he will, in dialogue with the President, outline two to three focus areas, on which the school is asked to concentrate. While schools are asked to reflect in their Self-studies on each major theme of the Characteristics document, the principal emphasis will be on these focus areas.
These online resources, and the Characteristics document, refer frequently to the Jesuit and institutional partners listed below.
- The Society of Jesus organizes itself into Provinces (i.e., regional areas of ministry). Together, these Provinces form Conferences. Through a staffed office in Washington, D.C., the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States (JCCU) coordinates and supports the work of the Society of Jesus in North America.
- The President of the Jesuit Conference, V. Rev. Brian Paulson, S.J. represents North American Jesuits in the public square; advocates on priority issues; and convenes the U.S. and Canadian Provincials for common discussions and planning.
- Within the JCCU are five Provinces, each headed by a regional leader called a Provincial. Currently, the Provincials of the JCCU are:
- The Provincial’s staff includes a Provincial Assistant for Higher Education (PAHE), who functions as the Provincial’s liaison and representative in the MPE process, though the Provincial maintains oversight in all matters.
- The Superior General of the Society of Jesus, V. Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., is the international leader of the Society and sometimes referred to simply as “Fr. General.” Fr. Sosa’s review of the materials related to a school’s MPE leads to his decision to affirm the school’s Jesuit, Catholic identity, and to any specific guidance he may wish to offer the its leaders.
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU)
- AJCU President, Rev. Michael Garanzini, S.J., leads the organization, which is composed of the 28 U.S. and Belizean Jesuit institutions of higher education and their Canadian partners. He represents the AJCU schools publicly in ecclesial, governmental and higher education sectors, and works to foster a sustainable and effective network. AJCU Vice President for Mission Integration, Dr. Stephanie Russell, works with the schools and Provinces to coordinate the MPE process, overall.
- The Campus Self-study Committee coordinates the MPE process by conducting interviews, focus groups, surveys, and other activities that will inform reflection and priority-setting. Together, they write the Self-study and serve as the host group for the Peer Visitor Team.
- The President is the internal leader and public face of the college or university. In the context of the MPE, the President appoints the Self-study Committee and its Chairs; works with the PAHE to select the Peer Visitor Team; meets with the local Bishop; and leads the school’s efforts to make good on the Jesuit Mission Priorities it has established.
- Peer Visitor Teams (also referred to as Peer Reviewers) are knowledgeable colleagues from other Jesuit colleges and universities who have volunteered their time to review the school’s MPE materials, conduct on-campus discussions, and write a Peer Report about the school’s Jesuit Mission Priorities.