The Spirit of Georgetown
A Jesuit institution, Georgetown is grounded in a 450-year-old educational tradition inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus. Today, as a consequence of this long tradition, we can identify a number of characteristics or values that inspirit our University and that are referred to in our University Mission Statement, our institutional documents, and our iconography. The following values and definitions will help you to understand what makes Georgetown such an inviting and distinctive educational community. And just as Bishop Carroll welcomed Georgetown students from various religious and cultural backgrounds, we hope that whatever traditions you bring to this University community, you will find here values that you can appropriate in your own distinct way.
"Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"
(For the Greater Glory of God), the motto of the Society of Jesus, appears over the entrance to Wolfington Hall, the Jesuit Residence on campus, and above the stage in Gaston Hall. This motto identifies the religious purpose of all Jesuit endeavors. It is not simply doing good that Jesuits propose, but rather doing what will better or more effectively reveal God's active presence in our work and in our world. Discerning what is better is always an important principle of Jesuit decision-making.
Contemplation in Action
St. Ignatius believed that prayer and reflectivity should so guide our choices and actions that our activity itself becomes a way of entering into union with and praising God. Contemplation is a critical dimension of the spiritual life and it is reflected in Georgetown's commitment to prayer, worship and retreats. Analogously, in the academic life, a spirit of reflectivity is a critical aspect of intellectual inquiry.
In 1547, the first Jesuits were invited to begin a college in Messina, Italy, so that the young men of that town could receive the same quality of education that the early Jesuits promoted in training their own. Georgetown University is a descendant of this original Jesuit commitment to education. Academic excellence describes the great importance that Jesuits have placed on the life of the mind as a means for uncovering truth and discovering meaning. Georgetown's emphasis on academic excellence is reflected in the careful selection of faculty and students, the quality of teaching and the importance of research on our campus, and it has led to our recognition as one of the top 25 universities in the United States.
Educating the Whole Person
St. Ignatius believed that God could be discovered in every human endeavor, in every facet of learning and experience, and in every field of study. Consequently, he promoted the development of the spiritual, intellectual, artistic, social and physical aspects of each person. Georgetown's commitment to educating the whole person is evident in our strong core curriculum, our wide array of academic programs and our commitment to athletic, living-learning and religiously-centered communities.
This Latin phrase translates as "Care of the Person," and originally was used to describe the responsibility of the Jesuit Superior to care for each man in the community with his unique gifts, challenges, needs and possibilities. This value now is applied more broadly to include the relationship between educators and students and professional relationships among all those who work in the University. "Cura Personalis" suggests individualized attention to the needs of the other, distinct respect for his or her unique circumstances and concerns, and an appropriate appreciation for his or her particular gifts and insights.
Faith and Justice
In 1965, following the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits made a significant institutional commitment to "the service of faith and the promotion of justice." This commitment links the authentic following of the Gospel of Jesus with an obligation to address the social realities of poverty, oppression and injustice. While not all members of the Georgetown community would base their commitment to justice on these religious principles, our institutional commitment to promote justice in the world grounds our Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service, and inspires numerous University projects with the underserved.
Women and Men for Others
Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1981, employed the phrase "Men for Others" in a notable 1973 presentation in Valencia, Spain. Father Arrupe provocatively challenged the alumni of Jesuit schools and universities to be engaged in the struggle for justice to protect the needs of the most vulnerable. Today, this phrase has become more inclusive and its spirit is evidenced in Georgetown's promotion of service-learning; our local, national and international service projects; and the impressive commitments of our graduates to serve in organizations such as the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps International, Teach for America, and the Peace Corps.
Reflecting themes from the Second Vatican Council, the 34th General Congregation of the Society of Jesus made a significant commitment to ecumenical and interreligious engagement and understanding. As the Georgetown University community comprises a wide variety of religious traditions, our Office of Campus Ministry supports Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim chaplaincies, a variety of affiliated ministries, and numerous ecumenical and interreligious events and services. In addition, the University sponsors the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding the Program for Jewish Civilization; the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; the Catholic Studies Program; and a partnership with the Woodstock Theological Center.
Community in Diversity
As a Catholic and Jesuit University, the Georgetown community welcomes and sustains rich diversity among our students, faculty and staff. Approximately 52 percent of our student body are women, 22 percent of our undergraduate students are from a minority ethnic background, and over 2,000 students, faculty and researchers come from 130 foreign countries. The University supports the diversity of our community through a variety of resources that include the Diversity Action Council, the Center for Minority Educational Affairs, the Patrick F. Healy Fellows Program, the LGBTQ Resource Center and a wide array of student cultural and performance groups.
These values are central to the identity of Georgetown University, and each generation of students, faculty and staff is invited to engage them in ways that sustain our Jesuit character.