It’s hard sometimes to imagine Seton Hill University (SHU) before we all arrived. The Setonian staff spans from freshmen to seniors, so none of us were around before SHU was a university or before it was coed.
It is clear, however, that SHU has a rich history. We can’t make it through our education without hearing stories from the good old days. If you haven’t heard the stories about the girls of Seton Hill College wearing gloves downtown or protesting the change to coed, then visit the archives. Some interesting things have happened on the Hill over the years.
Even though the past has always been an essential part of SHU, we are also really focused on the present. As everyone knows, SHU is very techno-centric. With our iPads, we are expected to be a leader in technology integration.
So where are we going, other than up?
A focus of the State of the Hill coffee talk was expansion. We know that SHU is looking to build more buildings and it’s necessary. More students equals more faculty and stronger programs. Greensburg seems to be the key. Expanding into the city could help the city and our school grow. We’re known as a college on a hill, but we could be so much more.
The identity will change as we expand. There is a small town charm that is very cute about SHU, but there would be conveniences to expansion. We would have to work out some issues including transportation but the benefits would outweigh them. Our small school benefits would not disappear if we added a couple of big school bonuses.
Our heritage will have to play into our future as well.
“I think we will be more aware of the question. ‘What does it mean to be a Catholic school in the 21st century?’ We will return to an appreciation of what it means to be a liberal arts college,” said President JoAnne Boyle at the recent State of the Hill coffee talk.
The Catholic tradition and liberal arts core have had an interesting effect on our education. Classes like Faith, Religion and Society have made some of us more open to other religions. Others have rejected religions because of what they’ve learned. While the Sisters of Charity are still active on campus, religion is not necessarily a part of our every day lives. We love the Sisters of Charity but we also embrace people with other religious views.
So how do we connect the Catholic faith, that seems oppressive to some, with the openness of the liberal arts?
It requires a lot of conversations like the State of the Hill, but just the act of asking these questions is as important as the answers.
“That kind of intellectual world questioning surrounds us every day here,” said senior Jessica Orlowski at the coffee talk.
Right now we have a pretty good mix of tradition and forward thinking, but someone will always argue that we are too close to one extreme or the other. We should welcome these arguments because the questions are just as valuable. The students of SHU have been asking these questions since 1919. Keep on asking.