|Mary Beth Gallagher|
When asked how she would describe herself, Dr. Mary Beth Gallagher pauses and smiles shyly. "I don't know that I can do that," she laughs.
But after a conversation with Gallagher, it's easy to see that her kind smile and gentle humor make her ideal as Fontbonne University's assistant to the president for mission integration. In this new position, Gallagher is charged with finding collaborative ways to embed the mission in academic life - from general education requirements to faculty development. Her duties also involve encouraging and supporting students, staff, faculty and alumni, to "think critically, to act ethically and to assume responsibility as citizens and leaders," as the university's mission asserts.
"Fontbonne wants to keep the fire of its mission alive," Gallagher says. "It's a beautiful mission, connecting us with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet."
Formerly at Saint Louis University, Gallagher served as the director of the VOICES Project, funded by the Lilly Endowment. In that position, she developed programs to intertwine ethics and spirituality into the curricular and co-curricular life for faculty, staff and students.
"I'll work with the creative energy that's already present here," says Gallagher, who holds a doctorate degree in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis. "We need to continue instilling in students a sense of service and justice as part of their lives. We need to integrate into courses and curricula the power of the university's mission in new ways in order to keep the mission fresh and living."
For Gallagher, the finest attribute of this small, liberal arts university is the many people who have devoted their lives to shape and improve it. "I'm struck by the number of mission-oriented activities that are already happening here - service opportunities and marvelous speakers, for example," she notes.
Her hope is that today's students will contribute in equally diverse, creative and impactful ways. "I'll be looking to faculty for ideas about integrating specific course content with ethics, values, and spirituality reflective of our mission," she says. "It's within each discipline that Fontbonne's mission comes alive."
Learn more about Fontbonne's mission.