Return to Program Development Grants Program Development Grant Summaries

​May 2016 Awards

Anderson University (IN) will support the university's mission to educate for a life of faith and service to the church and society by developing a foundational Vocation and Calling curriculum as a support for faculty advisors and guided exploration for our students. This curriculum will complement the new faculty advising model. Specific program initiatives will include a vocation book discussion for faculty, StrengthsFinder® training for faculty and staff, development of faculty advising materials aimed at sophomore to senior level students that address their unique vocational exploration materials for faculty who teach in our first-year experience course sequence, student self-guided instruction for a deeper understanding of personal calling and vocational pursuits, a redesigned course for undecided majors that helps those students to work through their vocational pursuits, and a vocational calling video series that highlights the stories of faculty and staff members.

Aquinas College (MI) the only Catholic college in West Michigan, will expand existing and develop new programs for students to intellectually and theologically explore vocation. Consistent with the college’s commitment to vocational exploration, the College has developed the Aquinas Advantage, a program that supports and expects all students to engage in study abroad, research, or internship opportunities, each with the explicit purpose of vocational exploration. This project will result in five outcomes: 1) the college will expand and enhance internship, study abroad and research programs; 2) the staff will develop a data collection system to capture their scope and impact; 3) students will develop the skills necessary to articulate the competitive advantage gained through vocation exploration activities; and 4) the college will expand mutually beneficial relationships between and among alumni and current students.

Coker College (SC) will develop initiatives to help the College better articulate its understanding of vocation and to bolster programs that engage students in thinking about vocation and purpose. A faculty workshops will focus on crafting and articulating and institutional statement on vocation and purpose for the full faculty of the College. A second workshop will work through curricular revisions of the College’s first-year seminar program. Coker College’s first-year experience seminar, which extends over two semesters will be revised to integrate vocation. A sophomore SKILLS conference will become an integrated component of the return to school for second-year students with a more intentional focus on career, vocation, purpose, and major. Coker is launching an Academic Advising Center that will include a peer mentoring component that allows students to have meaningful interaction with accomplished junior and senior seniors.

Concordia University Texas, which is known for its Lutheran ethos, will build on its long-standing tradition of preparing students for a life of service and meaningful work in the context of doctrine of vocation. The Center for Vocation and Professional Development will continue to serve students in the areas of practical career preparedness skills. Also it will develop and implement initiatives in collaboration with faculty and staff across multiple areas of the university to integrate career advising informed by the Christian meaning of vocation. Grant initiatives will create a holistic advising action plan, expand the formal mentoring relationship through a mentor training curriculum and use of Birkman Method Assessment advisors, and develop e-portfolio, mentor, and faculty advising modules.

Cornerstone University (MI) will augment current first-year efforts with professional development opportunities for faculty members and an intentional second-year experience for undergraduate students. The university faculty will be trained in vocational advising practices. The second-year experience will be solidified through programmatic and experiential components. Upper-class students will learn about additional leadership roles and new contexts for exercising applications in the virtue formation process.  These initiatives will culminate in a set of capstone courses designed for the liberal arts curriculum.

DePaul University (IL) plans to deepen the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among students to connect their field of study and career aspirations through the V3 (Vincentian Values and Vision) Initiative. The program development grant will enable DePaul to integrate a more intentional and sustained reflection on personal meaning and social purpose into critical and strategic touch-points in the student trajectory. Students will be able to: name and articulate key aspects of their personal sense of vocation; construct their personal vocation in the larger context of social responsibility and social purposes, or the “common good”; and develop habits and practices that enable students to sustain their sense of vocation over time. To achieve these goals with students, DePaul will facilitate more regular opportunities for staff and faculty to reflect on vocation. Activities will include enrichment seminars for faculty/staff, development and production of videos (with a focus on vocation and Vincentian values), and development of a project Web-presence including engagement modules.

Ferrum College (VA) will pilot an integrated intensive experiential term course and integrate co-curricular programming throughout the academic year. The course will be team taught by the dean of the chapel, along with two faculty in Health and Human Performance and Recreation Leadership. The Journey and Adventure of Vocational Exploration is designed to aid students in more clearly defining vocation in relation to life meaning/purpose. In addition to expanding spiritual formation programming, this set of initiatives will make it possible for students to engage in multiple physical, educational, and spiritual formative activities that enhance spiritual wellness. The goal is to improve student’s ability to better understand their life meaning and purpose as a whole person.

Jarvis Christian College (TX), a historically black liberal arts college, will build on the college’s already established programs of advising, campus spiritual activities and first-year experience programming. Campus leaders propose to accomplish four related goals: educate and train all advisors to assist students with vocational discernment and holistic advising; implement a module for holistic/spiritual development of students in the First-Year Experience program; increase the number of activities and programs that directly impact the spiritual life of students at the College; and provide campus ministry internships/scholarships to interested students. These initiatives will be crafted to fit the diverse student body drawn from a wide variety of religious, racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. These concerns, along with the college’s open enrollment policy, address a number of challenges in the discernment of vocation in the context of its ongoing affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

John Brown University (AR) will build on the already existing institutional commitment to vocational preparation for students to create and implement three tiers of programing that will serve as the catalyst for lasting change. A task force will research and develop common language and frameworks for student vocational exploration, and develop training materials and resources for faculty and staff leaders and student learners. This leadership group will train and equip key campus leaders with the knowledge and resources they need to engage students about vocation. Finally, the task force will develop programming that engages students on the topic of vocation at critical life junctures throughout their four years of study.

King's College (PA), a Catholic institution in the Holy Cross tradition, will develop a two-hour module for the First-Year Experience (FYE) Seminar and a one-credit course on vocation and modules embedded in a variety of disciplines and co-curricular programs. The stages of development include preparation, reflective engagement, course or module development, implementation and assessment. Faculty and professional staff will be invited to read and reflect upon a series of readings related to the concept of vocation in the Christian tradition, especially regarding the educational philosophy and spiritual charism of the Congregation of Holy Cross, as well as professional literature related to career planning and development. Faculty and staff will participate in a workshop reflecting on reading materials pertaining to their personal engagement in the Holy Cross tradition and how they apply in particular areas of expertise and involvement with students. Thereafter, participants will be invited to submit proposals to assist in the development of vocation-related modules or one-credit courses. Finally, the modules or courses will be assessed following their implementation.

Mount Mary University (WI) will develop a comprehensive program to engage faculty, administration, staff, and students in discussions surrounding vocational discernment and living purposeful lives for a diverse student population of predominantly commuter students. This program will build a common language for faculty, administration, staff, and students around the identification of talents and abilities as well as vocational exploration through the use of shared reading and reflection experiences. The initiative will provide dedicated time and opportunity to bring faculty, staff, and administrators from different parts of campus together to facilitate open and engaged conversation and reflection in reading groups and pilot initiatives developed from these reading groups.

North Park University (IL), affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church, will create an initiative for first-year students through the Exploring Vocational and Life Choices (EVLC) program, which will invite students to engage in self-reflection to understand who they are and how they fit in the world with the goal of ultimately leading to satisfying personal, spiritual and career choices. EVLC will further this goal through mentorship, academic engagement, purposeful discussion, and reflective journaling.

Piedmont College (GA) will complete the process of phasing in the Compass Program, which was introduced in 2013 as a way to supplement students’ classroom learning with real-world experiences, thereby fostering students’ sense of vocation—awareness of how their dreams and capabilities correspond to the realities of the world. All undergraduate students will be required to complete three experiential learning endeavors before graduation. The Compass Program Vocation Initiatives will develop informed, seasoned proponents of the Compass Program throughout the college, provide opportunities for experiential learning endeavors that cultivate students’ sense of vocation while introducing them to previously unexplored questions and contexts. It will forge connections between vocation and current social issues incorporated in the college’s core value: legacy.

Rivier University (NH), building on its core mission, “Transforming hearts and minds to serve the world,” will create an environment in which faculty teaching courses both to traditional age and adult learners hone their approaches to vocational discernment through a study of learning theory and bibliographic resources, personal reflection, and the development of student-centered learning outcomes and assessment. This project incorporates four new endeavors: 1) develop a seminar for current and future faculty focused on the theories and pedagogy of vocational discernment; 2) develop a seminar for faculty engaged in online learning that will focus on the theory and andragogy of vocational discernment, which matches the learning style of online adult learners; 3) implement a “Vocation-Infusion” challenge grant program, which supports faculty engagement with the theory and pedagogy/andragogy of vocation exploration, develops learning outcomes, creates curricular activities that will apply theory to class material and assess the impact on the activity on the desired learning outcomes; and 4) develop a vocational discernment immersion program for selected incoming students utilizing existing faculty academic services and student support staff.

Tougaloo College (MS), affiliated with the United Church of Christ, will offer a series of experiential activities for students, faculty and staff that combine vocational exploration and discernment in the context of global issues and concerns. A fall retreat will be an overnight off-campus event open to a mix of students, staff and faculty. A winter workshop, focused on the healing of the world will be a day-long event held on campus with a local facilitator that encourages students, staff, and faculty to reflect deeply on the role of pedagogy and mentorship for vocational exploration.  In the spring a nationally known scholar-practitioner who has a reputation for insight into vocational discernment and a connection to global activism will visit campus. These three activities will cultivate globally aware and locally engaged students, staff and faculty, committed to make a difference on this fragile planet.

University of La Verne (CA) will build upon its already existing general education curriculum, which emphasizes a multi-disciplinary, student-centered approach, and the existing values seminar curriculum, which ensures that every student will formally reflect on vocation. This initiative will put a structure in place that encourages students to continue this exploration across their years at La Verne. It will enhance communication and develop a common language around the topic of vocation and career, develop culturally-responsive mentoring and advising as it relates to vocation, develop a Passport to Vocation to enhance student’s self-exploration and career/life success across their undergraduate experience, and develop a sustainable curriculum series to be used in academic advising, mentor training, and the values seminar.

University of the Ozarks (AR), which is affiliated with Presbyterian Church USA, will launch a new vocational discernment component of the Ozarks Experience. This mission-focused spiritual discernment program called One Campus: One Calling encourages students to explore their own vocational direction in life and embark on a path of study and personal spiritual development that authentically encouraged them to live into that discernment.

University of the Southwest (NM) will establish and develop the Calling and Servant Leadership Education (CASTLE) Center to assist students in vocational discernment, internships, and career placement. The center will provide student vocational assessment services, faculty training in the area of vocation-based teaching, vocational internships for student, and library resource development on vocation for use by faculty, staff, and students.

Warren Wilson College (NC), which follows a combines rigorous liberal arts academics with, challenging work experiences, and deliberative community engagement, will deepen initiatives to work with students exploring questions about meaning, purpose, major, and career through the Pathways Project, a collaboration between the Office of Spiritual Life, the Career Development Center and campus educators. Pathway Project programs and events will help students identify ways to craft an intentional journey through the college’s triadic model. The Pathways Project begins in the first year and includes components available to students through their senior year. However, the emphasis is on a sophomore-year experience of targeted programming and mentorship. Campus educators who themselves have experienced a year-long fellowship exploring their own vocation will mentor sophomore students on questions of identity, calling, and purpose as they select their major and minor, deepen campus engagement, and explore their inner life within the spiritually and philosophically diverse college community.