New Benedictine University president makes first public speaking appearance

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Dr. Joseph Foy spoke publicly for the first time as the new president of Benedictine University at the school’s Journeys in Leadership event last Wednesday night. 

He introduced himself to the Benedictine community, while also speaking about important topics relating to the university. 

Benedictine as an independent Catholic university

The Diocese of Joliet announced on June 6 that Benedictine University would be deemed an independent Catholic university within the diocese after the ending of its sponsorship with the St. Procopius Abbey. 

“While we have the sponsorship or recognition of an ecclesiastical authority in Bishop Hicks in the Diocese of Joliet, they are not involved in the direct governance of our institution,” said President Foy. 

This means that the Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet will not put members on the Benedictine University board as the St. Procopius Abbey did during their sponsorship with the university.

“That will enable us to be able to diversify our board so that it more looks and represents the communities that we serve as an institution,” Foy said.  

While Benedictine is now an independent Catholic university, Foy stated that the Catholic identity remains, with one example being the Benedictine hallmarks.

“We still are recognized by the Catholic Church, we’re still part of the Catholic Church, and it is still beholden on us to live out those Catholic values,” said Foy. 

The importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion

Foy also spoke about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and said he believes that higher education institutions fall short by approaching DEI through a formula. 

“They think, ‘here is the formula to respond’, and ‘here is what is expected from of us to respond’, rather than doing a deep and authentic look at ‘who are we’ and ‘how should we be with one another’,” said Foy. 

He said that communication and engagement within diverse groups is key when working toward equity and inclusion. 

Foy called for the Benedictine community to commit to action by standing in solidarity and supporting and working with campus organizations and clubs that are committed to DEI.

Connecting with students

While connecting with faculty and staff is important for the new Benedictine president, Foy also spoke on the importance of connecting with the students.

“I think there are times when folks can become too isolated in leadership positions, and we can forget, ‘what are we even here for’, and we are here to serve our students, first and foremost,” said Foy.

Foy stressed the importance of connecting with students by learning about their clubs, events, research, and other passions they may have. He said he is open to communication and will even accept invitations back to classrooms to be able to work with students. 

About Foy 

Foy is the 13th president of Benedictine University. He took over the role from Charles Gregory, who retired in August.

Prior to his appointment, he served as Interim President and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

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