Self-Study Committee

Self-Study Chair

The Self-Study Chair(s) is appointed by a Jesuit school’s President to coordinate the Mission Priority Examen (MPE) process. The Chair is ultimately responsible for its smooth completion and communication. The Chair’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Convening and overseeing the work of the Self-Study Committee;
  • Assisting the President and Provincial Assistant for Higher Education (PAHE) with the nomination of Peer Visitors;
  • Working with the Chair of the Peer Visitor Team to arrange a comprehensive visit;
  • Establishing a calendar for the process, including dates for the peer visit and all necessary approvals of the draft and final Self-Study documents (see Checklist for MPE Self-Study Chairs for specific tasks and deadlines); and
  • Submitting all final materials to the school’s regional Province and AJCU on or before March 15 of the academic year for the MPE.

Self-Study Committee

The MPE Self-Study Committee is appointed by the President of the Jesuit College or University. Its membership should reflect a wide variety of voices at the institution and all members should have familiarity with, and a commitment to, the Jesuit, Catholic mission of higher education. It is strongly recommended, though not required, that Self-Study Committees include the participation of at least one Jesuit. All Committee members serve as “university citizens” who undertake the MPE on behalf of the entire university community, rather than representing particular constituencies. Serving on an MPE Self-Study Committee can be a powerful experience, as members take a deep dive into understanding their school’s mission and future.

The work of the Self-Study Committee can be divided roughly as follows:

Communicating with the Campus

The Committee introduces the MPE to the campus and provides regular updates through e-mails, a dedicated web page, and/or other venues.

Gathering Information

  • The Committee devises and implements means for listening to the campus community – including students, faculty and staff – about the experience of living out the school’s Jesuit, Catholic mission. These methods may include (a) focus groups, (b) open fora, (c) surveys, (d) interviews, and/or (e) meetings with key constituencies, such as the Student Government, Jesuit Community, Staff Assembly, Academic Senate, and community partners. The MPE process might also be informed by data that have been collected for other purposes, such as the school’s report from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). In certain circumstances, it may help to take a “deeper dive” into focus areas recommended by the Provincial. An optional list of Supplemental Questions has been developed to aid these more thoroughgoing discussions. Please note, however, that the supplemental questions are not core to the MPE and need not be addressed specifically in the Self-Study. They are simply provided as supporting material for schools that find them useful. The Self-Study Chair and PAHE may determine together whether any of the questions are useful.
  • It is essential that the input of a school’s Board of Trustees be obtained early in the process, and that trustees become familiar with the purpose of the MPE, the content of the Characteristics of Jesuit Higher Education: A Guide for Mission Reflection, and their role in confirming the school’s Jesuit Mission Priorities. Approaches to Board engagement will vary among schools, and the President will provide guidance on how to proceed in this regard.
  • Self-Study Committees also rely on the President to engage the local Bishop at the front end of the MPE. Ideally, the President would meet personally with the Bishop to explain the process, offer an update on the school’s service to the local and global Church, and ask for the Bishop’s thoughts on how the school might deepen its relationship with the Church in the future. The President asks the Bishop to follow up on the conversation by sending the President a letter synopsizing it (alternatively, the President may wish to send the Bishop such a letter after the meeting). Local circumstances may necessitate adaptations, but feedback from the Bishop should somehow be included in the Self-Study.

Overall, the process need not be overly “managed” for a particular result. All opinions, positive and negative, are welcomed, consistent with the Ignatian Examen, on which the MPE is based. Thus, consultations should also include people who are not highly familiar or engaged with the school’s mission.

Discerning Jesuit Mission Priorities

The Committee holds the voices of the college/university community in mind, as members discuss and recommend to the President two to four Jesuit Mission Priorities for the next seven years. While the Committee is asked to reflect upon all seven of the themes in the Characteristics document, the specific areas agreed upon by the President and Provincial should receive the greatest emphasis in discerning Mission Priorities.

Writing the Report and Executive Summary

The Committee completes a Report and Executive Summary, using the outline provided below.

Hosting and Engaging the Peer Visitor Team

A team of three to four Peer Visitors from other Jesuit colleges and universities volunteers their time to help make the institution’s MPE possible. Their generous service provides the schools with broad perspective and expertise.

The Peer Visitor Team visits the campus for two to four days, engages in a series of conversations and focus groups, and writes a report assessing the school’s intended mission priorities. The Chairs of the Self-Study Committee and Peer Visitor Team will be in close contact to plan the visit, and the Peer Visitor Team Chair may make requests regarding particular groups the Visitors would like to see. The relationship between the Peer Visitor Team and Self-Study Committee is intended to be collaborative, since both have the wellbeing of the school, and its mission, in mind.

All MPE-related expenses of Peer Visitors (e.g., travel, meals, etc.) are the direct responsibility of the host school. Please see the FAQs page for information on how AJCU schools with financial need may apply for assistance to host peer visitors.

Following the campus visit, the Peer Visitor Team Chair will send a draft report to the Self-Study Committee Chair. The Self-Study Chair and Peer Team Chair then engage in an iterative process to discuss (a) the feedback of the Peer Visitor Team, (b) corrections to any errors of fact or judgment in the Peer Visitor report, and (c) possible adaptations to the school’s Self-Study, in light of the Peer Visitors’ input. It is the responsibility of the Self-Study Committee Chair to consult with the President during this process.

If the Self-Study Committee makes changes to their Self-Study and/or Jesuit Mission Priorities as a result of Peer Visitor input, they should note the changes in their final Self-Study and Executive Summary. Similarly, if the Peer Visitors make any amendments to their recommendations, based on post-visit dialogues with the Chair of the Self-Study Committee, those should be included in the final Peer Visitor Report. Any areas of disagreement should also be noted by each group in its respective report.

Following up

The Self-Study Committee discusses with the President how, and by whom, implementation of the priorities will be addressed. This information is included in the school’s final Self-Study Report. The PAHE will include in his annual visit to the school, discussions regarding progress toward the school’s Jesuit Mission Priorities.

Approving the Self-Study

It is incumbent upon the Chair of the Self-Study Committee to ask the President whose approval will be needed before the Self-Study is (a) shared as a penultimate draft with the Peer Visitors, and (b) submitted in final form to the Provincial and AJCU President. For example, many schools share the Self-Study at a Board meeting, culminating in a motion for approval. Whatever route a school takes, clarity on this point will reduce confusion later in the process.

As the “Director of the Work” (a term for the head of a Jesuit-sponsored ministry), the President communicates final institutional approval for the Self-Study and Mission Priorities by including a letter of support in the Self-Study (see Outline for Writing the Self-Study).

Additional Tools

Planning

Writing Reports