Keeping the Fire Burning: Asia Service Learning Reunion
CUAC Leaps the Globe: Online Seminar III on Compassion
Thorneloe to Appeal Laurentian Court Ruling
New College Heads
Herb Donovan poses with the COPE preschool in the Barangay Santo Domingo (prior to the pandemic).
Keeping the Fire Burning
CUAC’s annual Asia Service-Learning Program holds a virtual alumni Homecoming, as reported by Divino L. Cantal Jr., Trinity University of Asia, Philippines
Sunny Lee ascribes her resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic to her experiences in the CUAC-Asia International Service-Learning Program. She has a knack for international relations, but while she was working towards achieving her dreams of becoming a flight attendant, travel restrictions were imposed because of the spread of the coronavirus, and she landed as a tax accountant.
“You will never know what lies in the future. That’s life, I guess. I believe that we will be able to travel freely again as we used to… CUAC Service-Learning [gave] me courage, hope, and change of values. I hope that other students will be given the same opportunity to experience such a great program,” she said.
Sunny and a dozen other fellow students from Sungkonghoe University in South Korea joined the 2018 Service-Learning Program in Manila, Philippines.
Yuto Park, also from Sungkonghoe University, is from the pioneer batch of the program in 2015. It was his first time to go abroad, and through his participation, he developed cultural sensitivity and deep friendships which broadened his perspective.
“Personally, after CUAC, I got to live a life where my heart beats. It opened opportunities for me. I went to Malaysia as an exchange student and met friends from the other side of the world. I also had the chance to get a job in New York,” he said.
Meanwhile, Yuri Yamamoto recalled her experiences as a delegate from Rikkyo University, Japan, to the same program in 2018 through a video presentation. She fondly remembered how nervous she was when she first arrived in Manila, but her worries disappeared when she saw how loving and friendly the people in the partner communities were.
“I joined the program to learn more about the Philippines. However, I learned something more than knowledge – that is love. I learned that love is the key to overcome difficulties over borders,” she said.
Sunny, Yuto, and Yuri are some of the alumni of the CUAC-Asia International Service-Learning Program who shared their experiences in the virtual alumni homecoming held in January 30 via Zoom. Attended by administrators of participating universities, organizers of the program, and participants from 2015 to 2019, the virtual reunion aimed to provide updates to the whereabouts of its alumni and map the direction of the program during and after the pandemic.
The CUAC-Asia International Service-Learning Program is a yearly event hosted by Trinity University of Asia (TUA), the Philippines, since 2015. For two weeks, college students from CUAC-member universities in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines gather in Manila and render service to TUA partner communities. These include kindergarten education, children’s health and nutrition, women’s empowerment, community health, and geriatric care. Participants are also immersed in activities to develop leadership skills, cultural sensitivity, and social responsibility.
Students get to learn beyond the four corners of their classrooms, contributing to their development as a “whole” person – utilizing their heart, soul, and mind for the betterment of society. They engage in reflective discussions and journal-writing, which participants submit to the organizers at the end of the program.
In February 2020, the program was halted due to the threats of a novel coronavirus disease. While there were just a few isolated cases at that time, organizers decided to cancel the program to ensure the safety of the participants and partner communities. The decision was proven to be sound as lockdown was imposed in Metro Manila just one month later, and COVID-19 cases rose in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines.
The onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic up to this day prevented the organizers from holding the program last February 2021 for the second time. And to make up for lost opportunities, to provide updates on alumni and partners, and to rekindle friendship and strengthen partnerships, the virtual alumni homecoming was held instead.
Is compassion innate, or is it something we learn? If there is a special Christian kind of compassion, can it be taught? Three scholars examine the concept of “being deeply moved by others.”
In its continuing series of international online seminars, CUAC on April 21 linked 65 people across 17 time zones for a 90-minute discussion of “The Place of Compassion in Christian Higher Education.” Among the topics considered were the emerging field of “compassion studies,” the possibility there can be “an economics of compassion,” and the instances when too much compassion can harm those to whom it is directed.
Seminar organizer The Revd Dr Jeremy Law (Canterbury Christ Church University) compared “this thoroughly Christian virtue” so relevant to chaplaincy as well as ministry to a key signature in music in the way “it shapes and colors everything that goes on in a college.”
The Revd Dr Harriet Harris (Edinburgh University) saw compassion in a readiness to be attentive to others, welcoming the cognitive changes linked to that kind of focused awareness. “We help each other’s thoughts to grow,” she said – “it’s a kind of win/win scenario.” This calls for “listening with the whole body,” which has an impact on the brain, she said, citing the work of clinical psychologist Paul Gilbert (University of Derby).
Harris – who leads a 25-member multi-faith chaplaincy program at Edinburgh is a priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church and in 2017 was given an MBE recognizing her services to multi-faith education and community cohesion – contrasted three psychological “systems” that are at work in us all. One quickly protects us when we sense danger, one is triggered when we have a task to perform (such as taking an exam), one soothes and relaxes us (a “rest and digest” reflex). The first two play a large role in a student’s life, where fear of failing, or hoping others will fail, leads to levels of stress that help explain the current wave of suicides. She cited the work of political theorist Michael Sandel (Harvard), specifically his The Case Against Perfection. Compassion – as shown in a simple act of kindness, such as listening closely – can ease that stress.
But you can’t show that kind of empathy, she said, unless you are compassionate for yourself, quoting Aquinas’s observation that “our love for ourselves is the model for how we love others.” Compassion fatigue, or burn-out, is the result of not having that emotional grounding.
Dr Joyce Jacobsen, a labor economist, took a different tack. Rather than view economics as a study in self-interest, where the profit motive trumps all other concerns, she suggested that compassion can also prove an efficient force in terms of how we organize our lives and our societies. Dr Jacobsen, who is president of Hobart & William Smith Colleges in upstate New York, said we could escape zero-sum game theory and “instead make the pie larger.” A gift-exchange economy, for example, leads to reciprocation. It reduces anxiety, discomfort, and an eagerness to go to court, and is “extremely effective in getting to a better outcome.”
Compassion, she said, can be taught and emulated – for example, by studying the economies of Kerala in South India or Bhutan – places where you will not find great wealth, but good health and happiness, “because they have invested in compassion.”
She also praised “the care economy” championed by many feminists – various forms of “caring labor” such as tending children or the elderly – “underappreciated yet underlying the monetized economy, still transactional yet more effective and equitable.” Her conclusion: “We can build on this on a small scale in our universities.”
The Revd Dr Mark Garner (retired Head, Whitelands College UK, now living in Australia) argued, on the other hand, that compassion was much more than just paying attention or distributing labor. Scientific confirmation that it made you feel “good,” for example, fell far short of understanding the role compassion played in Jesus’s ministry. Love of one’s neighbor is fundamental, he said, to Christian higher education.
He singled out three essential questions. First, what was your motivation. It had to be not just to improve education, but to follow Jesus’s example. Second was orientation. Christian compassion is directed outward, to serving others, he concluded, citing 1 Corinthians 13 (“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love…”). How was helping yourself part of that? The third was consistency. It’s “a fundamental flaw to believe that human nature is perfectible through human effort.” How do we stay consistent in avoiding the temptation of secularism’s flaws while still learning from secular theories?
A lively question period followed, with the audience raising issues that confirmed how complex the nature of true compassion really is. What is its relation to the theological concept of “brokenness”? How do you show compassion in a practical, meaningful way in situations of crisis – for example, when institutions have to lay people off? And how do you avoid “foolish” compassion – for example, in abandoning or weakening academic standards, saying “pass them all”? Does that really help the student?
The Rt Revd Renta Nishihara, Bishop of the Diocese of Chubu, has been elected 22nd President of Tokyo's Rikkyo University, where he was Dean of the College. He is the first diocesan bishop in modern times to lead an Anglican university, chair of the Association of Christian Schools in Japan, and a CUAC Trustee.
Ontario Court Rules
Against Thorneloe University
In a possibly devastating blow to Anglican higher education in Canada, a court ruled on May 3 that financially troubled Laurentian University could proceed with its plan to end its 60-year-old federation agreement with Thorneloe University.
On May 4, Thorneloe announced it will file a motion for leave to appeal and a stay of the order to the Ontario Court of Appeal as it previously advised Laurentian it would do in the event of an unfavorable decision.
Given the Court's decision, Thorneloe had to cancel its Laurentian online classes for the spring semester, which were supposed to have started May 3. Thorneloe is reaching out directly to all Laurentian students affected to provide more information. Its theology programs will not be affected by the cancellations.
Thorneloe President John Gibaut said, "Unless corrected by the Court of Appeal, this decision is devastating to our students, faculty, and staff as it enables Laurentian to move forward with its ill-conceived plan to close down the federated universities. Laurentian's motive is to eliminate competition for its own courses and attempt to maximize its own tuition and grant revenues. However, Thorneloe's unique offerings in Religious Studies, Ancient Studies, and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies attract students to the Laurentian community. These students will end up having to pursue their education outside of Northern Ontario."
The termination of the federation agreement will force the closure of Thorneloe's operation at Laurentian and the permanent loss of even more jobs in the Sudbury area.
News from Around the CUAC World
The Board of Trustees at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, has appointed Dr Christine Johnson McPhail as the University’s 13th President. The announcement followed an extensive national search to fill the vacancy left after the untimely passing of her husband, Dr Irving Pressley McPhail, in October 2020.
Having served as president and CEO of the McPhail Group, LLC, Dr McPhail is a nationally recognized thought leader in higher education. She also currently serves as Professor of Practice at the John E. Roueche Center for Community College Leadership at Kansas State University. She is the Founding Professor and Director of the Community College Leadership Doctoral Program at Morgan State University. Under her leadership, Morgan State became a Carnegie-classified doctoral research institution, indicating that the program awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees during the update year.
She has also served as President of Cypress College in California. After several decades in higher education, Dr McPhail served as a leadership coach with Achieving the Dream from 2004 to 2018. She has developed proven coaching and consulting methodologies and leadership programs that are now used by numerous institutions to help their leaders drive results. She is the editor of best-selling Establishing and Sustaining Learning-Centered Community Colleges (2005), coauthor of the best-selling book, Practical Leadership in Community Colleges (2016), author of Leadership Tune-Up: Twelve Steps to Becoming a More Successful and Innovative Leader (2020), and co-editor of Team Leadership in Community Colleges, (2019). Her latest book, Transformational Change: Becoming an Equity-Centered Higher Education Institution, co-authored with Dr Kimberly Beatty, is slated for publication this spring. Dr McPhail is the author of numerous academic articles, including “From Tall to Matrix: Redefining Organizational Structures” (2016) and “Strategic Planning as a Leadership Development Tool for Midlevel Leaders” (2020), co-authored with her late husband.
Professor Susan Bazzana has become Head of College at St Martin’s, a residential college of Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. She had been, for six years, Dean of Residence at New College Postgraduate Village in Sydney. She has graduate degrees in communication, Christian Studies, and management. She has previously worked for the Queensland Farmers Federation, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corp., the Church Missionary Society, and WorldVision Australia.
After 15 years as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester (UK), Prof Joy Carter retired in March. During her term in office, student numbers doubled, the curriculum was expanded, and the University’s profile enhanced. A geologist specializing in geochemistry and health – a field that includes study of climate change – she was awarded a CBE in the New Years Honours List in 2018 for services to higher education. Her many public duties included serving as Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Hampshire, chair of the Cathedrals Group (an organization of heads of universities with religious foundations), a CUAC trustee, co-chair of the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education, and chair of the National Governing Body for Squash.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor – The Revd Prof Elizabeth Stuart, an internationally renowned theologian, will serve as an interim head while a job search is under way. Prof Stuart joined the University in 1998 as a Professor of Christian Theology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Theology and Religion. She became Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer in 2005 before being appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic) in August 2008, and then First Deputy Vice-Chancellor in January 2013.
Prior to joining the University of Winchester, Professor Stuart taught Religious Studies and Theology at the University of Glamorgan and University College St Mark and St John. She is an internationally renowned scholar who has published widely on the theologies of sexuality and gender.
“When the semester resumed in October 2020, it became clear that we might have carried this University as far as we could possibly take her, and we informed the University Board that after five years, come August 2021, we will not seek to renew our contract. In honor we took up this assignment as University President, and with honor, we lay it down.” With those words, the President of Cuttington University in Liberia, Dr. Herman Browne, bade farewell at the end of Commencement on 17 April 2021.
Dr. Romelle Horton, former Vice President for Academic Support Services for the African Methodist University, has been appointed Interim President.
- IN MEMORIAM -
We mourn the passing of Dr. Marlon Gomez (1969-2021), who graduated with a mathematics degree from then Trinity College of Quezon, in the Philippines, in 1994. He immediately joined the teaching ranks handling mathematics, statistics, and data analytics in the undergraduate and graduate programs. In the last 12 years, he also served as the Dean of Students and in various capacities in the quality management of what is now Trinity University of Asia. Marlon died from complications of COVID-19 in April. He is survived by his wife, Serena -- an alumna and mathematics professor -- and three children.
From the General Secretary’s Desk (At Home)
The CORONA disruption has revealed other underlying pandemics in our societies that had been overlooked. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, after a police officer knelt on his neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, revealed a pre-existing pandemic of racism. Bishop Prince Singh, a Hobart and William Smith Colleges trustee, notes, that after “seeing George Floyd killed in seemingly slow motion before our eyes” on the smart camera video, “we can’t go back to a normal that did not value people's dignity, mostly because we cannot unsee what we have seen. It is an icon of America’s original sin of racism, though racism is not American's franchise or even monopoly.”
Then, on March 18, a 21-year-old white man went on a shooting spree in Atlanta killing six Korean women and two others. While there have been frequent anti-Asian incidents in the past, this time Asian-Americans responded by speaking out, including Allen Shin, a Korean-born Bishop of New York, who wrote, “As an Asian American bishop, I am mindful of calling too much attention to Asian concerns and issues lest people see me as a bishop only for Asians. But I can no longer remain silent. I feel compelled to speak up against the rising anti-Asian hate crimes in our communities.”
Overcoming racism is one of CUAC’s primary callings as an association that connects Anglican colleges and universities internationally in order to young people to shape a better world. It begins with developing a practice of caring about neighbors. Five years ago, at the Chennai Triennial, we adopted The Identity and Character of CUAC Institutions, a declaration that starts fleshing out what Anglican identity looks like in educational practice: “CUAC institutions are concerned with the common good and the contribution of the individual to it. They care for the communities around them and encourage dialogue concerning vocation, service and love of neighbor.” True regard for neighbors starts with taking the time to get to know them in depth, as they really are, overcoming stereotypes and prejudices, creating a two-way street.
While we begin as citizens of the land where we were born, global consciousness is formed by associations that take us out of our tribes and neighborhoods. While it starts simply by joining a diverse student body, it expands with experiences of reaching beyond, such as students in campus-based community engagement work. On a global scale, it can be associations fostered through exchanges such as the Asia Chapter Service Learning seminars, reported on in this issue. Such relations continually connect us to widening circles of the human family. One of the remarkable attributes of Anglican higher education’s worldwide network is the vast array of these connections that continually challenge racist assumptions through shared experiences.
Bishop Singh continues, “We have learned that recognizing racism has to start with looking within to discover and own our own perspectives of tribe and prejudice. Then we have to find a better way.” For students and faculty alike, changes within are the hard-won outcome of confrontational experiences, such as hearing neighbors when they speak out.
This is the path CUAC institutions are called to blaze.
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
The Algorithmic Soul
Way back in Sunday School, we were taught that God is always watching us. Well, now He has company. Big Tech is watching us, its tireless algorithms tracking our every impulse as our fingers race over the keyboard, collecting our whims, monetizing our yearnings, before we even know we have them. And that’s the least of our worries.
Making up for the huge pile of rubbish it normally accumulates, Netflix has recently produced one of the signature exposés of our times – Jeff Orlowski’s 2020 docudrama, The Social Dilemma. Not to be confused with that relic of more innocent days, the 2010 biopic The Social Network, this jeremiad has more in common with another landmark, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962. While Carson accurately predicted the disasters looming in our physical environment, the damage this time is inside our brains…or, if you like, our souls.
The show features confessional clips from Silicon Valley escapees, eager to tell the real story behind High Tech’s utopian self-image and warning of the immense and unregulated political power a handful of companies now have over our political and economic lives; the brain-scrambling media addiction among teenagers (the fact so many teenagers watching the show pooh-pooh this suggests it may be on to something!); a sudden increase in depression and suicide among young people in general, and the ease in which “doomscrolling” – the habitual watching of dystopian news – leads once-intelligent humans down the rabbit holes of conspiracy theorists and fake news networks.
The Social Dilemma should be a “don’t miss” viewing (and debating) experience in CUAC colleges and universities in particular because it raises the kind of issues such institutions are designed to consider. What is it to be a thinking, feeling human being, made in God’s image? What do we do to this being when we start to tamper with it? What do we do when others out there start tampering with it, without our even knowing it?
Let me explain what I mean…oops, that’s your smartphone ringing. Don’t let me stop you…
Compass Points is published by GENERAL SECRETARY: The Revd Canon James G. Callaway, D.D. PUBLISHER: Julia DeLashmutt EDITOR: Charles C. Calhoun PRODUCER: Francis Rivera
May 2021 Compass Points
Inside this Issue:
Keeping the Fire Burning: Asia Service Learning Reunion
CUAC Leaps the Globe: Online Seminar III on Compassion