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St. Bonaventure to Host Franciscan Academics at AFCU Conference

Allegany, N.Y.- The campus of St. Bonaventure University will be bustling this weekend as academics from around the country gather to explore the Franciscan tradition and discuss ways the tradition can be used to develop a unique sense of mission in higher education today.

On Thursday, June 22, representatives from 16 different Franciscan academic institutions will gather at the University for the 2006 Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU) Symposium.

The 154 registered participants will explore the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition as a Resource for Mission, the theme of the conference, which ends on Sunday, June 25.

“The conference is intended to create an opportunity for individuals from Franciscan affiliated institutions to come together to learn more about the Franciscan intellectual tradition as a resource and dialog partner as the institutions seek to further clarify and develop their distinctive sense of mission and unique contribution to higher education,” said Edward Coughlin, vice president for the Franciscan Mission.

The AFCU is an organization representing 19 institutions affiliated with or sponsored by Franciscan religious communities across the United States. The AFCU was established to support the members’ mission of Catholic higher education by providing a forum for dialog, as well as to foster and facilitate collaboration among the members.

This year’s conference is the second of its kind and a first at St. Bonaventure. A welcome and orientation to the program and its goals from University president Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., and William Beaudin of Siena College will take place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, June 22.

The keynote address by Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, C.S.J., Ph.D., will be delivered at 9 a.m., Friday, June 23, in the Regis Family Theater in The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Sr. Mary Beth is a professor of philosophy and former associate vice president for academic affairs at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She has served on the faculty of the Franciscan Institute and has been a visiting professor at St. Bonaventure. She is an expert on the thought of the Franciscan medieval Franciscan scholar John Duns Scotus. She has written four books and numerous articles on the thought of Scotus and the contemporary relevance of his work for a post-modern world.

Presentations pertaining to the Franciscan academic experience will take place throughout the conference and will be of several different formats.

A range of 75-minute topical seminars, some 25 in all, will be available to participants during the course of the conference. The wide variety of seminars will enable participants to selectively learn more about the Franciscan intellectual-spiritual tradition, explore different core curriculum models that are animated by the Franciscan tradition, explore how the Franciscan tradition might be incorporated into various areas of the curriculum and/or professional programs in business and education, discuss some of the ways the tradition might inform an institution’s approach to various student life issues, and learn how Franciscan institutions might develop their unique sense of mission in higher education today.

Open space meetings Friday will provide an opportunity for open-ended conversation, rather than formal presentations. Poster sessions on Saturday will allow participants a similar opportunity to discuss ideas about a program, initiative, course or other information of their interest and choosing. Topics for the poster sessions will include those posted by participants on Friday morning. Roundtable discussions, covering several topics, will be held on Friday and Saturday during lunch breaks.

The conference will conclude on Sunday with a celebration of the Eucharist at 8 a.m. in the University Chapel, Doyle Hall.

For more information on the conference, including a detailed schedule and descriptions of each seminar topic, visit afcu.sbu.edu. Questions and concerns can be directed to Sharon Godfrey at 716-375-2221 or sgodfrey@sbu.edu.