President’s Peace Commission

Image of President's Peace Commission LogoThe President’s Peace Commission fosters an ethical commitment to participate in the establishment of world peace and social justice. The Commission encourages respect for human rights and dignity of all people.

The Commission annually hosts symposia that offer opportunities for students, faculty and staff to grow in their active pursuit of peace and justice.

Through the symposia and other activities, the Commission seeks to build within the St. Mary’s University community a greater awareness of the Roman Catholic and Marianist perspectives on peace and justice. The President’s Peace Commission reflects the University community through student, staff, and faculty representatives appointed by the University President.

Spring 2015 President’s Peace Commission

Tuesday, Feb. 24-Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015

Students in Debt, a People in Debt: Indebted to a Vocation?

College students strain to pay increasing university tuitions, incurring debt that may follow them for many years after graduation. Students worry that they will not find gainful employment, even with a college degree. Meanwhile, many people in the United States struggle with homelessness, food insecurity and healthcare. Unemployment and under-employment remain stubbornly high, and the work that is available tends to pay less than it did a scant few decades ago. We live in dread of impending layoffs, while the stock market goes up and the rich get richer. Indeed, our world is fraught with perils and our futures are far from assured. Where, in such a world, do we turn for hope and inspiration?

In an economy increasingly defined by complexity, global interconnectedness and uncertainty – how do we prevent ourselves from being consumed by fear and anxiety? This year’s President’s Peace Commission invites scholars, practitioners, and leaders in the Catholic Church to discuss four key questions:

  • First, how do we encourage students to pursue a liberal-arts-based education – following their passions, talents and vocational calling, regardless of legitimate concerns about economic security?
  • Second, can we make a living doing what we love? Or can we redefine wealth in non-traditional ways – more than simply a yearly salary and the conspicuous consumption of goods?
  • Third, in a nation that seemingly values technical degrees in specific fields, why is a liberal-arts-based education invaluable to students and society as a whole?
  • And ultimately, how can students use their degrees in the fields that they love to create a more socially just world that promotes Marianist values and the Common Good?

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Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015

9:45 a.m., Invocation

The Rev. Rudy Vela, S.M., D.Min., Vice President for Mission and Rector, St. Mary’s University

9:45-11:00 a.m., Debt: Unmasking the Beast

Speakers: James Greenaway, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, St. Mary’s; David Krause, Director of Financial Assistance, St. Mary’s
Moderator: Leona Pallansch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, St. Mary’s

11:10 a.m.-12:25 p.m., Is a Living Wage Really Letting Us Live?

Speakers: Jorge Montiel, Industrial Areas Foundation lead organizer; Steve Nivin, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, St. Mary’s
Moderator: Amber Zavala, International Relations student, St. Mary’s

12:35 p.m.-1:50 p.m., The Shackles of Debt: The Weight on Society

Speakers: Jessica A. Cohen, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology, St. Mary’s; Colin McQuillan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, St. Mary’s
Moderator: Janet Armitage, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Sociology Department, St. Mary’s

Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015

9:20 a.m.-10:10 a.m., Vocation: An Invitation to Happiness

Speakers: Jenee Margo Gonzales, Southern Region Development Officer for the Marianist Province of the United States; Cynthia D. Villafranco, public affairs support and communications, Federal Reserve Bank of Houston
Moderator: The Rev. Tim Eden, S.M., Ed.D., University Chaplain, St. Mary’s

10:20 a.m.-11:10 a.m., Money Can’t Buy Happiness…So How Do We Define Wealth?

Speakers: Patti Radle, Co-director, Inner City Development; Rod Radle, Co-director, Inner City Development
Moderator: Jonathan Martínez, Exercise and Sport Science student, St. Mary’s

11:20 a.m.-12:10 p.m., Is College the Only Ticket to Success?

Speakers: Steven Rodriguez, Ph.D., Founder, EPIC Career; Cappy Lawton
Moderator: Rebecca Rutledge, Associate Director, Civic Engagement and Career Development Center, St. Mary’s

12:20 p.m.-1:10 p.m., Hear from Your Peers: The Value of Student Engagement

Speakers: Jacob Bartholomew, International Relations student, and vice president of the Student Government Association, St. Mary’s; Gina Khong, Biology student and president of the Pre-Dental Society, St. Mary’s; Cheyenne Palmer, Criminology student, St. Mary’s
Moderator: Tim Bessler, Ed.D., Dean of Students, St. Mary’s

1:20 p.m., The Art of Peace Award

Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015

9:45 a.m.-11 a.m., The World Through A CORE Perspective: What Makes St. Mary’s Unique

Speakers: Megan Mustain, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Core Curriculum, St. Mary’s; Winston Erevelles, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Science, Engineering, and Technology St. Mary’s; Miriam Lindsey Johnson, alumna, St. Mary’s
Moderator: José Ortiz, International Relations student, St. Mary’s

11:10 a.m.-12:25 p.m., Caring for People: Whose Job Is It Anyway?

Speakers: Céline A. Jacquemin, Ph.D., Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Associate Professor of Political Science, St. Mary’s; Larry Hufford, Ph.D., Professor of Political Science, St. Mary’s; The Rev. William Behringer, S.M., Director, Casa Maria Community, Society of Mary
Moderator: Maria Barragán, Biology student, St. Mary’s

12:35 p.m.-1:50 p.m., Paying Back, Paying Forward: The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

Speaker: Thomas M. Mengler, J.D., President, St. Mary’s; Cynthia Teniente-Matson, President, Texas A&M University-San Antonio; Ric Baser, President, Northwest Vista College, San Antonio
Moderator: Teresa Van Hoy, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, St. Mary’s