Bishops explore Catholic school funding at Loyola summit

A two-day summit exploring Catholic school financing begins today at Loyola University Chicago, attracting bishops, chief financial officers and school superintendents from the 26 dioceses and archdioceses across the nation.

Here are details from the National Catholic Educational Association:

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago; President Karen Ristau of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA); Dominican Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, Chicago Catholic Schools Superintendent; bishops from dioceses across the country and other top leaders in Catholic education will explore innovative solutions to the financial challenges facing Catholic schools at the Financial Summit on Catholic Schools Thursday and Friday at Lewis Tower on Loyola University’s Water Tower campus.

“Catholic elementary and secondary schools across the nation are confronting a financial crisis. By bringing leaders together for the first conference of this type, we hope we can help dioceses identify creative and innovative ways to address this challenge,” said Daniel F. Curtin, executive director of NCEA’s Chief Administrators of Catholic Education Department.

The summit at Loyola University Chicago will draw bishops, chief financial officers and school superintendents from the 26 dioceses and archdioceses that enroll 20,000 or more students. Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Catholic Education will also be participating.

“Our goal with this summit is to encourage those who lead Catholic schools to think differently about ways to strengthen schools for the benefit of present and future students,” said Dr. Karen M. Ristau, NCEA president. “We plan to continue this conversation across the country for Catholic educators to explore creative and innovative ways to sustain the schools.”

The Chicago summit will feature Joel Barker as the keynote speaker, “who will help us to think imaginatively about shaping a brighter financial future for Catholic schools,” said Ristau.

A futurist who made the term “paradigm shift” popular, Barker has worked with organizations around the world to help them create stronger futures. His recent focus has been on what he terms “innovation on the verge,” which he will discuss in his presentation on “A New Approach to Innovation: Thinking Inside the Verge Box.”

In two panel presentations, Catholic educators will share their success stories. A “Finance” panel and a “New Ideas” panel will allow for interaction between panelists and participants.

NCEA, founded in 1904, is a professional membership organization that provides leadership, direction and service to fulfill the evangelizing, catechizing and teaching mission of the church. NCEA’s members include elementary schools, high schools, parish religious education programs and seminaries.

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Loyola’s Rome Center touts new program

By Mari Grigaliunas

ROME – Anna Carlson’s smile shines invitingly from behind a desk covered in highlighted paperwork, handwritten notes and to-do lists that suggest she is much too busy to be smiling, let alone chatting late on a Monday afternoon.

 Since August, Carlson, assistant director of admissions at Loyola, has been traveling around Europe recruiting students for the Rome Start Program, which debuts this Fall. The program offers students graduating high school abroad the opportunity to study at the John Felice Rome Center for their freshman year, then finish their degrees in Chicago.

“Initially, we thought this would appeal to Italians, and it would be all Italians in the program,” Carlson said. “That’s where eventually we’d like to go with this.”

Carlson explained that as an American university, Loyola presents unique challenges to Italian and other international students. Italian students typically take five years of high school and do not start applying to colleges until after they graduate. Also, they do not take the same standardized tests and the government distributes financial aid differently.

Still, Carlson has found Italian students interested in the program and hopes it will gain popularity after its first year. Her goal is to have a program of 25-30 international students. By continuing to use the nearby Zone Hotel for additional student housing, Carlson says Rome Start won’t take away from any American students wishing to study at the JFRC.

Loyola sophomore Jon Smith sees Rome Start as a benefit for both international and American students.

“I think it could be a good opportunity for our students to learn more about different cultures and also share things about our culture,” said Smith, a psychology natural sciences major.

This is just what Carlson hopes to accomplish by bringing Italian students to study alongside American students.

“Some of our partner universities in the States say ‘I don’t know if I want to send our students from our campus to yours in Rome because I wish they’d have more of an immersion experience,” Carlson said.

So far, the new program has drawn a lot of attention from not only European students, but also American students graduating from high schools outside of the country. These children, sometimes referred to as third culture kids, are a growing population of youth raised by families in the military or working abroad. In fact, Carlson says the program currently has applicants from every single continent.

Regardless of which countries Rome Start students come from, the program reflects the learning communities set up on Loyola’s Chicago campus. Rome Start students will all live on the same floor, have their own Student Life Assistant and take the required University 101 class together. In addition, they will take two core classes as a group and visit the Chicago campus during fall break.

The rest of their schedule as well as campus life will be integrated with U.S. students studying at the JFRC. For the upcoming year the program will probably stay relatively small at 10-15 students in order to insure they have the completely tailored experience Carlson talks about.

“These students are recognizing the value in that the other Rome Start students are going to be like them with different backgrounds, well-traveled, with different interests, having different international experiences,” Carlson said.

Meredith Tilot, a junior Marketing and International Business major at Loyola University Chicago, interns for Carlson.  Although the full-year student won’t be at the JFRC this fall when the Rome Start students begin their studies, she feels excited about their arrival to what she calls the “Rome Center family.”

“I am now connected to these people who have been here 15 years ago that I’ve never actually met, and it stretches forward too,”  Tilot said. “So we’re going to be connected to those kids that get here.”

Loyola Journalism Major Mari Grigaliunas is studing in Rome and filing periodic dispatches.

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