By Deanna I. Howes, Director of Communications, AJCU



It might surprise readers to know that of the many hats that I wear at AJCU, my secret favorite is that of editor! As the daughter of a former newspaper reporter and a former librarian, I was born with a passion for the written word and a desire to tell stories. Thus, editing Connections is something that I greatly look forward to every month and this month was no exception.

The articles in this month’s issue highlight some of our incredible distinguished faculty on six Jesuit campuses. Our students are blessed to learn from these masters of a variety of disciplines, including theater, astronomy and business ethics. Of note, two of the professors featured in this issue are Jesuits who have graced nearly all of our 28 campuses as lecturers, board members or faculty: Rev. George Coyne, S.J. of Le Moyne College and Rev. Gerald F. Cavanagh, S.J. of the University of Detroit Mercy. It is not an exaggeration to say that reading these articles is a bit like taking six mini-master classes, and just might make you want to go back to college!

It is also a pleasure to share with you a story from our partners at The Beijing Center (TBC). The Beijing Center offers an incredible study abroad experience for students at our Jesuit colleges and universities, including classes covering a variety of subjects and cultural immersion trips across China. Distinguished faculty at TBC include Ian Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who teaches courses on Chinese Religion and Society; you will learn more about him in this issue of Connections. For more information on TBC, visit

In the season of Thanksgiving, we are thankful for the thousands of men and women who teach the students at our 28 Jesuit colleges and universities to be critical thinkers and to seek the Magis both inside and outside of the classroom.

All the best,


By Cyndy Littlefield, Vice President for Federal Relations, AJCU



While everyone is still in shock in the aftermath of last week’s election, we need to recognize that the sun still came up the next morning, as President Obama mentioned in his speech on Wednesday.
As the dust settles in the weeks to come, we will continue to work diligently to learn more about President-elect Donald Trump’s educational policies and plans for colleges and universities in the United States. We will also work to extend the graduate Perkins loan program, which is set to expire on December 31st.

And, we will publish our updated list of Jesuit alumni in Congress in January when the 115th U.S. Congress convenes with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate. As of now, there will be 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives (four races remain uncalled); and 51 Republicans, 36 Democrats and 2 Independents in the Senate (with one run-off race in play). Please let us know how your Jesuit alumni fared during the election by writing to me at and Mike Wieczorek at
We will continue to carry on our work in the face of new challenges, and we will forge new partnerships for higher education policy during the transition and beyond. It is important to keep an open mind as we look ahead.

By Tom Stoelker, Senior Writer, Fordham University Office of Communications

Stephen McKinley Henderson (Photo by Tom Stoelker, Fordham University)    

Stephen McKinley Henderson (Photo by Tom Stoelker, Fordham University)



This semester, Fordham University welcomed actor Stephen McKinley Henderson as the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theater. It is a fortuitous time to have Henderson on campus teaching, as this December he will appear opposite Fordham alumnus Denzel Washington, ’77, in the film adaptation of playwright August Wilson’s play, Fences.

Together with Viola Davis, the three starred in the 2010 Broadway production, which won three Tonys—for best revival of a play, best actor for Washington, best actress for Davis—and a nomination of best supporting actor for Henderson. Much of the Broadway cast has been retained for the move to the screen.

Henderson recently retired as a theater professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, a position he has held since 1987. He knew August Wilson personally and has acted in his plays on and off Broadway. He holds distinct views on how to teach Wilson’s works, but he noted that he’s not the first Wilson expert to have held the Washington Chair. Two former chairs, actress Phylicia Rashad and director Kenny Leon, have both directed plays by Wilson. 

“Kenny Leon likes to call us the Wilsonian soldiers,” says Henderson.

While the move to the big screen will finally bring Wilson to the attention of a much larger audience, it comes after years of championing the plays by director Lloyd Richards, who Henderson has worked with as well. He says, “If there were to be a Mount Rushmore of acting teachers and theater contributors, Richards would be on that mountain with Lee Strasberg, Stella Adler, and Stanislavski. A lot of us who worked with Lloyd take on the teaching of Wilson as a duty.”

Wilson is perhaps best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Century Cycle, which consists of 10 plays, each set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in a different decade. Nine of the plays are set in the city’s Hill District, a working class African-American neighborhood. Fences takes place in the 1950s. In the movie, Washington plays Troy, a 53-year-old garbage collector struggling to take care of his family.

The play delves into issues of race using the everyday language of African Americans, albeit shaped by “Wilson’s poetic gift,” says Henderson.


Stephen McKinley Henderson has been teaching as the Denzel Washington Endowed Chair in Theater. Here he talks about moving the production of August Wilson’s “Fences” from stage to screen. Video by Miguel Gallardo.

Matthew Maguire, Fordham’s theatre program director, says that Henderson’s influence has been critical in getting students to play across ethnic lines in the University’s acting classes.

“The actors of color have always played in Shakespeare and Chekhov, but the white student actors almost never play in Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson [plays]. Now, thanks to Stephen, they do,” says Maguire.

Still, Henderson says that asking students to cross ethnic lines by playing roles of other races makes some students uncomfortable—particularly with Wilson’s liberal use of the N-word.

He says, “It would just be impossible to try to work on an art form outside of the context of the issues in the society you’re living in.” So the solution, he says, is “to make the classrooms the safe space.” And that’s what he tries to do. “Students have got to be able to trust that we can say things here and we can grow and come to understand how these issues exist.”

Henderson says that while Wilson’s plays come from a specific culture, the themes are about the universal human condition.

“We’re earthlings,” he explains. “We may come from this city or that state, and from unique human experiences, but the only thing foreign is the language. Everything else is mother, father, sister, brother, being a parent, or being a good husband.”

Henderson teaches students to first find empathy with their character; only after that is accomplished do students work on technical aspects like dialect. He says, “I tell my students: ‘Don’t get it right; get it true!’”

For the film version of Fences, the actors spent three weeks rehearsing and getting re-acquainted with the characters they played onstage. Henderson says that Washington’s “Hollywood clout” enabled an extended rehearsal period—a rarity in film.

Henderson calls the production the “most magical experience” of his career. He says, “It took Lloyd Richards’ career in the theater to bring August [Wilson] to theater audiences, and it took Denzel’s journey and his brilliant career to introduce Wilson to this larger audience. Now, more people can see what a contribution Wilson has made.”

By Molly K. McCarthy, Le Moyne College Office of Communications

Rev. George Coyne, S.J. (Photo by Le Moyne College)    

Rev. George Coyne, S.J. (Photo by Le Moyne College)



The fascination that Rev. George Coyne, S.J. has with the physical universe harkens back six decades to his time as a Jesuit novice in Maryland. It was there that a caring professor named Rev. Hayne Martin, S.J. noticed his fascination with the stars and planets and did what any great teacher would do. He encouraged him to explore that interest further. The young student took the advice to heart. Not only did he fall in love with astronomy, but he also discovered his vocation – to serve God by studying His creation. Fr. Coyne went on to answer that call as director of the Vatican Observatory, president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, and professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. 

Today, as the McDevitt Chair in Physics at Le Moyne College, Fr. Coyne seeks to inspire in his students a similar wonder at the cosmos, not so that they become astronomers – or for that matter scientists of any kind – but so that they become “better human beings.” In classes such as Transformations: Science and Religion and Cosmology: Science of the Physical Universe, he seeks to instill in the undergraduate students a richer understanding of the world around them – and themselves. His aim is for these young men and women to become engaged in the material and to come to appreciate the joy that can be derived from learning for its own sake. His philosophy of teaching is simple and poignant: “Students come first. Always.”  

Fr. Coyne often reminds the undergraduates he works with that they are “made of stardust and would not be here without the elements that come from stardust.” While many would presume that there is an inherent tension between science and religion, Fr. Coyne says that in actuality the two are quite compatible. (In fact, it was the subject of an initiative he undertook as the McDevitt Chair in Physics titled Science and Religion, in which he invited experts to campus to share their reflections on the relationship between the two entities.) As a scientist, Fr. Coyne seeks natural explanations for natural events, but as a man of faith he knows that “God is beyond natural.” Yet he also believes that the universe should – and does – teach us something about God. As he has said, “It tells me that the God who made the universe is more magnificent than I could ever have imagined and that we came to be in a universe that is dynamic and evolving.”





That belief guided Fr. Coyne’s work at the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world. He joined the Observatory as an astronomer in 1969. When he was named an assistant professor at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (L.P.L.) a year later, he began to divide his time between Rome and Tucson. He continued to do so when he was later named a senior research fellow at the L.P.L. and a lecturer and adjunct professor in the University of Arizona’s Department of Astronomy. In 1978, Pope John Paul I appointed him director of the Vatican Observatory, and he remained in that role until 2006.

Over the course of his career, Fr. Coyne has been the driving force behind multiple new educational and research initiatives. He spearheaded the Vatican Observatory Summer School and the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson, where he studied the surfaces of the moon and Mercury, interstellar matter, binary stars and distant galaxies in order to gain a better understanding of them. Dark mass and dark energy – and how they shape the universe – continue to be a particular interest of his. And in his tenure at Le Moyne thus far, one of his greatest joys has been to help expand undergraduate research in the natural sciences through a fellowship program that sponsors student-led investigations of a variety of topics, including environmental pollution and climate change. 

Fr. Coyne’s own curiosity about the world around him, which first emerged in Fr. Martin’s class many years ago, is as powerful as ever. So too is his belief in the capacity of science to achieve good. He says, “Science itself can be a really unifying factor in a world that can be very divided. As human beings, at some level, we are trying to understand the universe and how we came to be. That connects us, regardless of language and culture.”

Rev. George Coyne, S.J.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in mathematics and licentiate in philosophy at Fordham University in 1958; doctorate in astronomy from Georgetown University in 1962; licentiate in sacred theology at Woodstock College in Maryland in 1966.

Society of Jesus: A member of the Society of Jesus since the age of 18, Father Coyne was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1965.

By Celeste Durant, Mason Stockstill and Kristin Agostoni, Loyola Marymount University Media Relations

Jeremy Pal, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)    

Jeremy Pal, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)



The interests of these four Loyola Marymount University (LMU) professors are wide-ranging; they specialize in environmental science, world religions, gender and politics, and teacher education. But they are bound by a love of learning, and that passion motivates them to make extraordinary contributions to academic life at LMU.

Jeremy Pal, Professor of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, Seaver College of Science and Engineering

Jeremy Pal, Ph.D. admits he was a mediocre student until he took a class in human ecology at a local community college. There he found his passion for environmental work, which led him to Loyola Marymount University for his bachelor’s degree and to Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his master’s and doctoral degrees.

Pal is now a leading expert on the impacts of climate change on society and one of a group of international scientists who shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore in 2007. 

In addition to his work on climate change, Pal has devoted a lot of his attention to LMU students’ environmental engineering service projects. He is the faculty adviser for LMU’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, through which students worked two years to design and build a water filtration system for a village in Malawi, Africa.

Group members are currently working with De Colores, a weekend student service/immersion program that focuses on building houses and community centers in Tijuana, Mexico. The area is plagued by flash floods and Pal’s students are developing a drainage plan to protect the community.

Pal is also the co-developer of Program for Engineering Education Community, a living and learning community for first-year engineering students that includes a community-based project. Students from last year’s freshman class are currently creating a greywater (drawn from laundry) and stormwater capture system to help maintain a small lake at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center. Previous projects include a greywater irrigation system and playground for a lawn at Alexandria House, a home for battered women and children. 

“The students pick which projects are taken up,” says Pal. “I try to stay behind the scenes as much as possible and simply adjust their sails to make sure they are going in the right direction.”

Amir Hussain, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)    

Amir Hussain, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)



Amir Hussain, Professor of Theological Studies, Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

To be a Muslim teaching theology at a Catholic university is not a position most people will ever find themselves in. But for Amir Hussain, Ph.D., the mix of different faith traditions is what makes the job ideal. He says, “We are in each other’s lives as Muslims and Christians, and it is important that we learn about each other and learn from each other.”

Hussain enjoys straddling different worlds: a Muslim in a Catholic university, a dual citizen – Canadian/American – writing about what it means to be American. His ability to take a broader perspective hasn’t gone unnoticed. He has served as editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and has published several books on the intersection of faiths, most recently Muslims and the Making of America (Baylor University Press, 2016).

He is also a regular commentator in the news media, appearing in newspapers, on radio and TV shows such as The Tavis Smiley Show, and has served as a consultant and on-camera participant in the recent National Geographic Channel series, The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.

“Los Angeles is at once the largest Catholic archdiocese in the United States, and the most religiously diverse city in the world. It also has one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States.” Hussain says. “I can’t imagine a better place to be.”

Nina M. Lozano-Reich, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)    

Nina M. Lozano-Reich, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)



Nina M. Lozano-Reich, Associate Professor of Communication Studies,
College of Communication and Fine Arts

Joined by family members of the murdered and disappeared on a trip to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Nina Lozano-Reich, Ph.D., painted black crosses onto pink backgrounds where the bodies of eight women were found in a river canal along the Juárez-El Paso border.

The crosses are meant to challenge the rhetoric of the state – which denies that these women were the victims of femicide – and offer a warning to others, says Lozano-Reich, an expert in critical rhetorical theory and gender politics.

She has been studying the issue of femicide in Ciudad Juárez since 2003, and for several years traveled to the city with LMU students until escalating crime and violence derailed the alternative break trips. Her work has also put her in touch with human rights groups and the victims’ families, and Lozano-Reich last year invited a mother who has spent eight years searching for her missing daughter to speak on LMU’s campus.

“Our students should have an opportunity to engage. It’s about working for social justice and gaining awareness,” says Lozano-Reich, who discusses femicide and gender violence in her social justice classes. “I’m just a vehicle, a mechanism to get the mothers’ stories out.”

Reich’s recent journey will be part of her book, ¡Ni Una Más! (Not One More!): The Materiality of Femicide in Ciudád Juárez. It is slated for release through Ohio State University Press in Fall 2017.

Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)    

Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D. (Photo by Loyola Marymount University)



Magaly Lavadenz, Professor of Educational Leadership and Founding Executive Director of the Center for Equity for English Learners, School of Education

Magaly Lavadenz, Ph.D. knows firsthand the struggles English language learners face in traditional classrooms. Lavadenz, whose family moved to the United States from Cuba, started first grade in a New York public school with challenges. She says, “I was in a complete immersion experience and didn’t understand what was going on.”

Her introduction to bilingual education came one year later when her family tried home schooling; she learned Spanish by reading the newspaper with her father and picked up English on television. It was an unconventional approach, but in time she became a good reader. After returning to the school system, she eventually worked her way up to gifted classes.

Now, as director of LMU’s Center for Equity for English Learners, Lavadenz will lead an initiative with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to implement the Sobrato Early Academic Literacy (SEAL) model and increase the pipeline of highly qualified bilingual teachers.

“My hope is that all children have the opportunity not to lose their first language, but to build on it and become proficient in English and achieve academic success,” she says.

Thanks to a $2.7 million federal grant, the partnership between LMU’s School of Education and LAUSD will support professional development for up to 84 teachers annually at elementary schools with large populations of English learners. Eighteen LMU students will participate in professional development and complete their state credential and bilingual authorization in Spanish. LMU will conduct research on the SEAL model as to how students’ English language and literacy skills develop.

By Jenna Oliver, MA, Innovation and Business Evolution Manager for the College of Business at Regis University

Meme Kinoti with children in Africa (Photo by Brett Stakelin)    

Meme Kinoti with children in Africa (Photo by Brett Stakelin)



When he was 18 years old, Meme Kinoti spent every summer day from sun up to sun down in the Kenyan tea fields, working alongside his family so he could raise enough money to pay his bus fare to Eldoret, 250 miles away from his home in the Meru highlands, to attend college. 

He needed the equivalent of $10 – and despite his efforts, an entire summer of hard labor in the fields harvesting tea – he could not save enough. 

Now an associate professor of nonprofit management at Regis University in Denver, Colorado, he looks back on that time and the struggles he faced with deep emotion and resolve. 

“I grew up poor,” he says. “That was not because we did not work hard. Indeed, we worked exceedingly hard. We farmed tea. The problem with farming tea was that we were not compensated for our labor or having the crop on our piece of land.” 

The stark realization that Kinoti could not earn money for the bus fare to go to college was one of the lowest moments of his life. He recalls sitting in the doorway of his family home, weeping – angry that God would allow such poverty and despair to exist. But even when he was young, Kinoti did not give up easily. 

He borrowed the money he needed to get to Nairobi and began the journey to becoming a professor, filmmaker and human rights advocate. 

As a professor at Regis, Kinoti has dedicated himself to influencing change, in Kenya and beyond. 

“My commitment is to research and understand the tea value chains as a means to help support rural farmers like my parents to make a better living out of their land and labor,” he says. “I am working to find social justice solutions that support the farmers making a living wage and I would like to educate the world on the values of sustainable livelihoods.” 

Kinoti recently travelled back to Kenya to document the challenges that still exist in one of the world’s largest exporters of black tea and to tell the story through the powerful visual medium of digital film, bringing his personal narrative and passionate mission into full focus.

Meme Kinoti in Africa (Photo by Brett Stakelin)



His film opens with a shot of a clearing mist that reveals a captivating landscape of vibrant, richly green rolling fields of tea plants. But it is not the landscape that is most compelling: it is the story of The Mouths that Eat from Tea and the complex economic and social challenges that it reveals. 

Through this film, Kinoti urges the audience to consider what the process of growing, producing and selling tea entails and how we must examine the human cost of what we consume. 

“Tea is healthy and good,” he says. “This is globally accepted. However, I would ask, is tea good and healthy for those who have become, essentially, indentured servants to produce it?”

Jessica Chance, of the nonprofit film production company Stories without Borders, travelled with Kinoti to Kenya to shoot the film. She was struck by what she learned at the tea farms. As a result of her experience, she has become deeply passionate about the film and Kinoti’s mission. 

“In all that he does, it appears to me that Kinoti is working to improve the lives of others,” she says. “Most important, his mother and sisters farming tea in rural Kenya. The goal of this film, and our ongoing partnership, is to share their story, which is also the story of about 500,000 tea farmers today. It is an honor to work with a man so singularly focused on making a difference with his life.”

Kinoti teaches international development to graduate students and in doing so, brings a deeply personal experience to the classroom. He embraces his role within the Jesuit educational system to ask, “How ought we to live?” and is able to answer it with clarity of purpose through a clear vision of past, present and possibility. 

He talks candidly to his students and his audiences about how he is striving to help pay his family’s debts, and gain equality, dignity and control over their own economic future.

“I am using the material I have developed, including the interactive documentary, as teaching tools with my students about international development, and the need for a true triple bottom-line: profits, people and planet,” he says. “Making a living from one’s efforts is a social justice matter. That is why this and many other stories need to be told.”

Kinoti has connected with Farm Concern International, an African agri-business organization to work on raising awareness and finding first-step solutions that he can offer to viewers, like supporting farmers who are diversifying their farming. He also remains focused on using the film as a tool to open dialogue and challenge those who engage with it to become active, not just with the media, but with the subject matter and the cause it advances. He is working with the College of Business and Economics at Regis to distribute it as a digital case study for the Jesuit network.

“He is forging a new way of presenting case studies that is visually compelling and virtually takes students to the places where the change needs to [happen] through the digital dialogue,” says Ken Sagendorf, director of Regis’ Center for Innovation. “By bringing these people and the real-life struggles that they face into focus, Kinoti hopes to give voice to suffering and encourage true and substantive change.”

Kinoti’s documentary, The Mouths that Eat from Tea, can be viewed here: The Interactive documentary was funded by and produced by Stories Without Borders and Chance Media in partnership with VERSE, a ground-breaking interactive video platform. To learn more about Kinoti’s mission, vision and challenge to all of us to examine how we ought to live, please reach out to him at or (303) 964-5312.

By Timothy Linn, Public Relations Specialist, Rockhurst University

Mark Pecaut, Ph.D. (Photo by Rockhurst University)    

Mark Pecaut, Ph.D. (Photo by Rockhurst University)



The universe has countless stars and planets, each with a story to tell. Call Mark Pecaut, Ph.D., assistant professor of physics at Rockhurst University, then, a storyteller.

Though he’s been with the University less than two years, Pecaut brings with him an accomplished resume as an astronomer, including one research paper published during his graduate work that is helping to reshape the way astronomers look at planet and star formation.

But at Rockhurst, Pecaut teaches a primarily undergraduate student population. And he is adamant about providing the kind of research opportunities he had to his students, giving them not only something for their own resumes, but also hoping to stoke their enthusiasm for all aspects of scientific inquiry, especially astronomy.

“We can get a lot more done if they get my best ideas to work on,” he says. “I also like doing research with the students because we’re not trapped in the confines of the course. The disciplines aren’t separated like we otherwise think they are. Anything that tells us more about what we want to know about is fair game.”

Pecaut says he remembers being young and looking up at the sky, wondering about the nature of stars and the scope of the universe. That interest followed him through high school, but in college, Pecaut found himself drawn to the more technological side of science, which led him to a physics and mathematics double major.

After a two-year stint in Ghana as a Peace Corps volunteer and a few years in Wyoming as an information systems developer, Pecaut enrolled at the University of Rochester, where faculty and students were doing a lot of technology-centered science research, including repurposing graphics processing units — built to maximize the performance of video game consoles — to run complex astronomical numeric simulations.

Those processors were put to work running simulations of solar systems orbited by rocky debris. For Pecaut, that work was a gateway, reintroducing him through technology to the study of the universe that had fascinated him in the first place.

“The thing about astronomy is that there’s more data than there are people to research it. Because it’s publicly available, you can go through it and always find new things to look at,” he says. “You don’t always have to have a fancy telescope to have good ideas and do cool things.”

As part of his graduate work, Pecaut started to comb through data from the Super Wide Angle Search for Planets (SuperWASP), analyzing a group of young stars for insights into planetary formation alongside a faculty adviser. But while looking at one variable group’s orbit, Pecaut noticed discrepancies in the brightness of one of the stars over the course of about a week and a half. 

“I didn’t know what to make of it, so I gave it to my boss,” he says. “He got really excited.”

That reading ultimately led to the discovery of a new object in the system, J1407 — likely a sun-sized star orbited by a brown dwarf surrounded by rings thought to be approximately 200 times bigger than that circling the Milky Way’s own Saturn. In looking for one phenomenon, Pecaut stumbled upon a much rarer object. A 2012 paper published in the Astronomical Journal about the finding spurred continuing studies of the object itself and a search for similar systems, as well as stories in publications like National Geographic and The Huffington Post.

Another Pecaut project might have even more far-reaching implications for astronomy. In 2009, Pecaut and his colleagues were looking at observations of the Upper Scorpius star association, a cluster of stars about 470 light years away that had previously been calculated to be five million years old and has been often used as a benchmark for calculations of the early lives of other stars. Using a host of data sources, from state-of-the-art models as well as luminosity and temperature readings, Pecaut and his research partners, Eric J. Bubar and Eric Mamajek, Ph.D., of the University of Rochester, determined the Upper Scorpius stars were actually about twice as old as previously thought.

“I really thought I must be wrong, and so I double-checked and triple-checked,” says Pecaut. “And then I started looking at higher-mass stars and those results agreed, too. It all started to paint a consistent picture.”

That paper, which was also published in the Astrophysical Journal, has now been cited more than 170 times and is part of a growing body of research that is leading scientists to reconsider previous perceptions of the universe.

With the same enthusiasm, Pecaut works with undergraduate students on research projects mining the Upper Scorpius data for new insights into the various aspects of star and planetary formation. Over the summer, one of those students, Megan Hyde, ’16, presented with Pecaut at the annual Cool Stars conference in Sweden, while another of his students, Kate Boyce, presented in late October at the Conference of Undergraduate Women in Physical Sciences.

“I try to focus them on the big picture,” he says of working with undergraduate students. “I show them where the physics community has put the data and I meet with them weekly to catch up on their research.”

Pecaut also helps recruit and oversee engineering students who modify toy cars to make specialized, low-cost mobility vehicles as part of the Variety KC GoBabyGo! Powered by Rockhurst University program. Other students might be working to improve a walker’s ability to climb stairs or to build analog circuits. It’s certainly resume-building, but Pecaut says that it’s also about giving students a more complete approach to science.

“A lot of the students who are coming to college know the formulas really well and are comfortable moving symbols around,” he says. “But they don’t always have a good grasp on what all of that means. It’s important to me for them to have the problem-solving skills that science really values. That it’s not about having answers — it’s about having questions. I want them to be able to ask good questions and then go out and look for the answers.”

By Joseph G. Eisenhauer, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy

Rev. Gerald F. Cavanagh, S.J. (Photo by University of Detroit Mercy)    

Rev. Gerald F. Cavanagh, S.J. (Photo by University of Detroit Mercy)



Rev. Gerald F. Cavanagh, S.J. has had an exceptional career that spans more than half a century and more than a dozen Jesuit institutions. Discerning a vocation as both a priest and professor, he entered the Society of Jesus in 1953 after graduating from college with a degree in engineering at what is now Case Western Reserve University. He then earned a MBA, a Master of Education and a Licentiate in Philosophy from Saint Louis University, as well as a Licentiate in Theology from Loyola University Chicago. He was ordained in 1964, six years before completing a Doctorate of Business Administration at Michigan State University.

He has been a Trustee at Fordham University, Xavier University, John Carroll University, Loyola University New Orleans, College of the Holy Cross and Santa Clara University, where he has also held a Chair in Business Ethics and served as a visiting scholar in the University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. In addition, he has held positions in Management and Ethics at Boston College, Gonzaga University and the University of San Francisco, and has served on an Advisory Board for the Center for Ethics and Religious Values at the University of Notre Dame.

At the University of Detroit Mercy, where he has worked since 1980, Fr. Cavanagh has been an Associate Dean, Interim Dean, Provost and Trustee, and has chaired numerous committees in addition to his liturgical responsibilities. But his most cherished role is that of professor, writing and teaching on business ethics and social responsibility. Indeed, when asked what his greatest accomplishments have been, he says “palpably influencing” students, along with “having an influence on the thinking, attitudes and scholarship of those in the business ethics field.” He has certainly achieved both.

Fr. Cavanagh was among the earliest pioneers who studied the social responsibility of business. In the 1960s and 1970s (when he first began work in this field), it was not yet recognized as a distinct sub-discipline within Management as it is today; his contributions helped make it so. He has chaired the Social Issues Division of the Academy of Management and the All-Academy of Management Task Force on Ethics. He has delivered nearly 90 professional presentations throughout the world—in Australia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain and the United States—at Harvard and Stanford, as well as numerous Jesuit institutions including Georgetown University, Boston College, Seattle University, Saint Joseph’s University, Regis University, Creighton University and Fairfield University. He has published 5 books, more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles and 20 chapters, as well as encyclopedia and magazine articles, monographs and proceedings papers.

His work has had tremendous impact: according to Google Scholar, his research has been cited well over 1,800 times—a remarkable achievement for a faculty member at a teaching-focused institution, whose career began before the internet came into existence. His most widely cited paper, coauthored with Dennis Moberg and Manuel Velasquez in the Academy of Management Review, is “The Ethics of Organizational Politics,” which Fr. Cavanagh describes as “the first [article] to outline and describe basic ethical norms in organizations.”

In a review* of Fr. Cavanagh’s most recent book, American Business Values, David Wasieleski of Dusquesne University wrote, “Gerald Cavanagh has been an important contributor to the Business and Society field for years. Through his teaching, his academic leadership, and his research, he has accomplished much through[out] his career in expanding the field’s knowledge on values and ethics.”

In recognition of Fr. Cavanagh’s path-breaking contributions and leadership in business ethics, both Loyola University Maryland and Siena Heights University have bestowed honorary doctorates of humane letters upon him. And he remains at the forefront of his discipline: since 2013, he has co-authored a book chapter on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, an article in Business & Society Review, two articles in the Journal of Business Ethics, and another in the Journal of Jesuit Business Education

As the Charles T. Fisher III Chair of Business Ethics at Detroit Mercy, Fr. Cavanagh has been instrumental in promoting the integration of social responsibility throughout the business curriculum at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Just as important, he has been a powerful advocate of service-learning, insisting that all students should provide service directly to the less fortunate and then reflect upon their experiences. In honor of his initiatives in developing servant-leaders, our alumni have endowed a Cavanagh Scholarship, awarded annually to the business student who performs the most meaningful service-learning. Indeed, encouraging students to contemplate their lives and values has long been his trademark. Every year since arriving at Detroit Mercy, he has taken students away from their urban classrooms to go on a backpacking trip through Shenandoah National Park where they commune with God and nature to better appreciate creation. Many have said it was the best experience of their college years.

Beloved by alumni, students and colleagues alike, Fr. Cavanagh received Detroit Mercy’s first Distinguished Faculty Award in 1998. For decades, students have testified to his pedagogical effectiveness. In a recent course evaluation, one MBA student wrote:

I’m stubborn and it’s hard to change my mind. At the beginning of the semester, I would have argued that ethics and societal implications have no place in business. My opinions often differed from his, and because I don’t maintain religious affiliation I unfairly let that [bias] my opinion of Fr. Cavanagh. I didn’t think that one could teach a class on ethics and expect a change [in] people, but Fr. Cavanagh got to me. I have changed my views on business and life for the better…I’m an example that one’s views on ethics can change, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had another professor who could have had the same effect. Fr. Cavanagh, you won me over.

In the final analysis, that type of transformative, life-changing experience is exactly what a Jesuit education is intended to provide.

*Wasieleski, D.M. (2009). “Book Review of American Business Values: A Global Perspective, 6th Edition by Gerald Cavanagh.” Journal of Business Ethics, 6, 203-206.

Ian Johnson (third from left) with TBC students at the office of a Daoist priest in China (Photo Courtesy of Dr. Amanda Barry)    

Ian Johnson (third from left) with TBC students at the office of a Daoist priest in China (Photo Courtesy of Dr. Amanda Barry)



Ian Johnson’s fascination with China began with his own study abroad experience in Beijing in the mid-1980s. This sparked a life-long interest in the country, its people and in particular its approach to spirituality and faith. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer is a regular contributor to The New York Times, the New Yorker and other publications. Johnson has taught at The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies (TBC; the Jesuit study abroad program in Beijing) since 2010, leading courses on Chinese Religion and Society and supervising undergraduate research in Loyola University Chicago’s prestigious Ricci Scholars program. Johnson received his MA in Chinese Studies from Freie Universität Berlin, and is fluent in German and Chinese.

Dr. Amanda Barry, Director of Academics at TBC, found a few moments to chat with Johnson about his life in China, his work, and his forthcoming book, The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao.

AB: How long have you lived in Beijing?
IJ: All told, 15 years. I first came to Beijing as a student from 1984-85. Personally, it was a chance to really immerse myself in a foreign culture, as different from my own as I could imagine, a chance to grow and to find new ways of looking at things and develop independence being abroad and away from family and friends. After a stint in Taipei from 1986-88, I returned to Beijing in 1994 and worked there until 2001. And then I returned once again in the start of 2009. 
What is it like being a foreign correspondent in Beijing?
It’s fascinating because we have a chance to understand many different parts of China, from culture to economics. It’s also an important role because many Americans get their information on China from the media. 
What drew you to your interest in religions in China?
I grew up in a fairly religious home, where we often talked about faith and belief. So when I began to study a country as different from mine as I could imagine, I naturally wanted to learn about its beliefs. But back in the 1980s, few Westerners seemed interested in this topic. Bookstores were stocked with copies of Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, Confucius’ Analects, and the Buddha’s Sutras, but these were often shelved under “Mysticism,” “Philosophy” or “Eastern Religions.” And these books were mostly classics written thousands of years ago. I wondered if these ancient works still mattered. And what about Christianity and Islam? I knew China had believers in these monotheistic faiths, but they didn’t seem part of the Chinese religious landscape.
You have published two important books on religion and society in China and Germany. Tell me about your latest book, coming out in April 2017.
The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao presents a big-picture view of how religion has not only recovered, but thrived since China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76). This challenges the secularization theory that as countries get richer, they care less about religion. In China, we see the opposite: the very prosperity that economics reforms have created has led many people to wonder what else there is in life [beyond] getting rich. They seek universal answers to age-old questions about the meaning of life. 
Is study abroad in China important for American youth today?
Yes! And the easy answer is economics. China is the world’s second-largest economy and will overtake the United States in the coming decade or two. But it’s also a place struggling with the same questions we all have: how to live a decent life in a society where all that seems to matter is the bottom line. You talk to Chinese people and you realize they’re interested in the same questions that all of us care about. And not only that, but the Chinese are really warm and friendly people, who will always invite you into their homes and are genuinely curious about the outside world, especially the U.S.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Amanda Barry    

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Amanda Barry



What changes do you see in students who come to study at TBC?
TBC students sometimes come to China with preconceived notions about the country, and the experience at TBC turns those ideas on their head. They get a much more nuanced view of China: they see it for the dynamic, vibrant place that it is, and I think they get to know and meet Chinese people and see different ways of living and thinking. It’s a great introduction to living in our global world because you really do see how differently other cultures operate. That’s a huge advantage going forward into your life no matter what your profession is and what you’re going to be doing.
Ian Johnson will be in the U.S. on a book tour in April 2017. Colleges and universities that are interested in inviting him to speak about his book may contact Dr. Amanda Barry: For more information on Johnson, please visit