Advancing the Vincentian Tradition through Strategic Service and Research
This article reveals how St. John’s University implemented mission-focused programs to advance its unique Catholic perspective, that of the Vincentian tradition to serve the poor and remedy social inequities. Heeding the 1986 call of Pope John Paul II to Vincentian institutions, all levels of the university from incoming freshmen to the board of trustees have embraced the Pope’s message to serve the poor and needy. Major program initiatives have included an expanded and enriched academic service-learning (ASL) program with a Discover New York service component for all incoming freshmen; the creation of a Vincentian Institute for Social Action to coordinate student and faculty service and research efforts with community partners; the establishment of a 4-year undergraduate Ozanam Scholar Program to engage students in extensive service and research under faculty mentorship; sustainable collaborations with community partners whose mission focus is compatible with the Vincentian perspective; and a dedicated effort to measure program impact through outcomes-based quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Religiously affiliated institutions may find program components and organizational strategies to be beneficial in their own work in serving the poor, needy, and disenfranchised.