It is with great sorrow that we come together today with the departure of our president and dear friend, Fr. Julio Giulietti, S.J. We have all come here to seek the truth, and to know and understand what has happened within the university walls and what has become of the reputation of WJU. In this light, please invite anyone to read the blog and feel free to comment as you wish.

Any posts with profanity are not welcome, otherwise, please speak your mind. You are a part of this university and we want to hear your voice!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What is unique in WJU?

I wonder if the Wheeling Jesuit Board and its Trustees understand that soon a great deal of funding is going to dry up from private education just as it did in other industries that offer educational products to learners. Education is more available and cheaper now than ever before. For an educational institution to service it must offer a good education, have something unique about itself and offer both at an affordable price. Uniqueness matters a lot. It will lead people to make sacrifices. Without uniqueness with clear value, the money available to students will go to the least expensive institution that offers the same as the more expensive one.

Friends of mine have children who study at Wheeling Jesuit. Many of these parents made the sacrifice to let their children attend the college because it is a Jesuit institution. To most people Jesuit usually means the institution represents the best in ethical and moral training along with a strong but pricy education. Does Wheeling Jesuit now have anything to offer that is unique to back up its price? Is there a uniqueness that is worth the high tuition cost? My friends tell me their children are looking at alternative institutions to study and earn the same level of degree. There are plenty of places where they can earn good degrees at a much greater reduction in price.

Why the coming exodus? After the forced departure of its most recent and popular president, Fr. Giulietti, Wheeling Jesuit seems to be in ethical and moral disarray. Its Jesuit ethos, the ethical and moral basis which is the core of its uniqueness, seems to have evaporated. How can the institution claim to be a Jesuit college when at its highest levels, the Board of Directors and the Jesuit Trustees, unethical and immoral decisions were made to throw aside a good man without any legitimate reasons and in such a publicly cruel manner? What message is presented to its students and staff other than ethical and moral behavior is relative? That is not Jesuit and certainly not Christian.

People are willing to pay for uniqueness. Wheeling Jesuit must prepare itself for departures by students who sense the loss of the uniqueness they sought. A degree from the college is no longer worth the financial sacrifice. They know there are good institutions nearby that offer reputable degrees at significantly lower prices. If they want the uniqueness of a Jesuit education they can bight the financial bullet and go to one of the other truly Jesuit schools. Their parents will understand.

Larry Catraro

1 comment:

  1. WJU's situation is a difficult one indeed. The reality is that there has been a steady loss of students for years now—an older profile left over from the 2007 presidential search cited WJU's 4 year graduation rate as 50%: not abyssimal, but not optimal either.

    This is most likely due to two major factors: the loss of many stronger students who may feel stifled by the campus culture, or the loss of students who weren't qualified to attend WJU in the first place. A significant contributing factor to the latter is the recent creation of, and emphasis on, majors that don't attract students with strong roots in academic inquiry.

    These problems with continue as long as WJU tries to position itself as an institution whose promary aim is job training rather than discernment and intellectual growth. While it could easily be argued that this is a necessary reaction to current trend in higher education, the increased focus on professional programs only serves to move the University further away from its Jesuit roots. Father Julio alluded to this in an interview at the time of his firing.

    While the career oriented programs help to fill the coffers now, they offer little in the way of a distinctive curriculum. WJU could well become the most expensive technical school in the valley if the number-crunchers continue to have their way.

    As for the ethical considerations, there were serious concerns about financial and educational matters in the 1990s under Acker's regime. Father Julio's departure might be best seen as the latest manifestation of a long tradition of questionable leadership.