Dec. 15, 2017

Dec. 15, 2017: tax reform, town hall, and more

Creighton University President, the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ

It was wonderful seeing many of you during the holiday reception on Tuesday in the Harper Center. This annual event is one of my favorite University traditions, and I truly enjoy experiencing the genuine camaraderie that exists between colleagues at Creighton.

With students gone for the break, and many of you leaving in the coming days, I would like to provide a final update for the year regarding a few items, including information on the much-debated national tax reform legislation, the EAB town halls in January, an exciting new program that will allow our students to experience the world in a new way, and a new athletic facility.

Proposed Tax Reform Legislation

As I mentioned in a previous message, negotiations occurring in Washington, D.C., regarding tax reform could have significant negative impacts on colleges and universities. It appears that a proposal to increase taxes on graduate students, for example, has been abandoned, and additional adjustments could be made in the final bill that will lessen the impact on students and their families.
 
However, now that the legislation is moving from the conference committee to final consideration by members of Congress, and more information is expected to be released soon, I once again encourage you to be engaged in the process, and contact your elected officials if you feel strongly about what remains in the bill. Colleges and universities, and our students, should not be asked to shoulder the cost of tax reform, and additional barriers should not be placed in the way of providing and financing higher education in our nation.

Strategic Plan Town Halls

As we move from formulating the strategic plan to implementing it, I am grateful for your attendance at the many strategic plan campus forums that occurred over the past few months. Goal stewards were pleased with the turnout and thoughtful questions as we move forward. 

You have another opportunity to gain insight into our own plan, as well as provide input, on Jan. 17, when we welcome back to campus John Tannous from the Education Advisory Board (EAB) for two town halls. John will speak to best practices in strategic planning implementation and provide an environmental scan of factors impacting the larger landscape of higher education. It is important for us to understand both the internal and external forces that surround this effort as we work together to implement our plan.

Please note that there has been an update to the time of the first town hall session, which now starts at 9:30 a.m. Both town halls will be identical in order to accommodate staff and faculty members’ schedules, and also will be live-streamed and recorded. To help us plan, RSVP.

Creighton Global Scholars Program

I am pleased today to announce the launch of the Creighton Global Scholars Program. This is an innovative, four-year program for select students dedicated to becoming experienced global citizens. Creighton Global Scholars will live, study, and learn in four countries during their four years at Creighton, beginning with their first semester, when they will study at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia.

Through language immersion, service-learning, research, internship, and specialized coursework, Global Scholars will go beyond their comfort zones and embrace both the beautiful and harsh realities of our world. Their experiences will cultivate a unique and rich lens through which to understand and examine the complex cultures and contexts we face every day and see firsthand how their majors can make a real difference. I have no doubt that these scholars will graduate Creighton as well-rounded, Jesuit-educated, global citizens ready to make their mark on the world.

Applications are now open to current high school seniors who have applied to Creighton. The first cohort will begin Fall 2018 at the University of Sydney.

Athletics Updates

There has been some particularly good news in the Creighton athletics program recently. Last Saturday, during the men’s basketball team’s victory over Nebraska, we announced that University benefactors Dick and Mary Pat McCormick have given a generous gift to Creighton to endow the athletic director role.

The McCormicks have long been friends of Creighton Athletic Director Bruce Rasmussen, who is in his 24th year at the helm of Creighton athletics. Through the gift, Creighton’s athletic director position will be known as the McCormick Endowed Athletic Director. The financial benefits of the endowment will help ensure Creighton student-athletes are able to succeed both in their chosen sport and in the classroom. 

In addition, anonymous donors have provided initial funding to help us build a new practice facility for the women’s basketball and volleyball teams, which will be located just west of D.J. Sokol Arena. This is an important new building, since it will help alleviate scheduling difficulties for teams that use our current facilities on the east side of campus. As you likely know, the final transition of the Old Gym to academic and office space, including a new lab for the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, is one reason why indoor training space became more restricted recently. 

Year in Review and University Christmas Video

Finally, I invite you to read the recently published Creighton Year in Review, and view the University’s Christmas video, both produced by University Communications and Marketing.

Covering 2016-2017, our annual report is now published. It is a wonderful look back at the previous academic year, but one of my favorite items is the Bluejay featured on the cover. 

You can now view the Christmas video, which is based on a poem by Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins.

As we go our separate ways soon, I would like to wish you a merry Christmas and happy new year, and pray that you travel safely, enjoy some much-needed rest and time with family and friends, and return to Creighton refreshed. 

Sincerely,

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ