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'Loaves and fishes'

Barry McNamara
06/23/2010
Monmouth College has received a $7,000 grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) to fund “Loaves and Fishes: Multiplying Opportunities for Theological Exploration of Vocation.” a regional conference to be held on campus next spring.

The college began its affiliation with NetVUE last fall, when it became a charter member of the nationwide network, which is an initiative of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). An association of more than 600 liberal arts colleges and universities, NetVUE seeks to strengthen leadership, sustain high-quality education and enhance private higher education’s contributions to society.

Proposed by MC faculty members Jane Jakoubek and Hannah Schell, the March 23-24, 2012, conference will target 38 NetVUE schools in the Midwest region.

“We think it targets an important niche of colleges like Monmouth who want to explore how they can better support their students’ vocational exploration,” said Schell.

The conference has been designed to facilitate the work of campus teams of three to four individuals that include representatives from key areas needed for program success. Monmouth saw the need for a gathering of like-minded colleges after attending NetVUE’s national meeting earlier this year.

“We were daunted by the scope of some projects that were described at the conference in light of our knowledge of the challenges our campus faces on many fronts,” said Schell.

Some of those challenges include how to tap into a campus leadership that is already overscheduled and overcommitted; realizing the potential benefits of stronger denominational ties at a time when many students and faculty maintain little or no denominational affiliation; and addressing the misunderstanding about what “vocation” really means.

“We recognize that our own situation is not unique,” said Schell. “Faced with the need to experience for ourselves ‘the miracle of loaves and fishes’ in order to multiply opportunities for our students to engage in theologically-informed exploration of vocation, we proposed to host a NetVUE regional gathering. … The gathering will offer what many faculty and staff most want – time to think together in an atmosphere conducive to meaningful action.”

More information about NetVUE is available at www.cic.edu/NetVUE.