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History and Institutional Basis

Diverse group of students in leadership class with Dean Dougherty, a caucasian male

History of The Institute

Rosemont College was founded in 1921 by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ).  In 2008, Rosemont adopted a five-year strategic plan grounded in its mission and which renewed its vision for growth, excellence, and practical usefulness to its students as they prepare for the responsibilities of adulthood. One consequence of the strategic planning process was the articulation of our commitment to ethical leadership, a core principle which is embedded in the culture of the College and of the Society of the Holy Child, and which derives from the thought and work of its foundress, Cornelia Connelly. A key goal outlined in the strategic plan was therefore the call to establish an institute for ethical leadership at the College.

In the summer of 2011, a generous grant from Halloran Philanthropies helped Rosemont celebrate the launch of the Institute for Ethical Leadership and Social Responsibility. Alan Preti, Ph.D., was named Founding Director, and is supported by an internal advisory board consisting of members of the faculty and several college offices, and by an external advisory board consisting of community members.

The Institute’s first initiative was the convening of an “Ethics across the Curriculum” workshop in the fall of 2011, in which a core group of faculty explored ways of infusing the curriculum with new courses and course modules designed to increase awareness of ethical issues in various contexts. The efforts of this group resulted in several new and revised courses, signaling the beginning of an intentional effort to promote moral awareness, reasoned moral decision-making, and ethical engagement throughout the College community and beyond.

Institutional Basis

Long before ethical leadership and social responsibility became bywords in higher education, the foundress of the SHCJ included these concepts in the mission of the Order; subsequently, they were included in the mission of the College. For Cornelia Connelly, whose educational philosophy was influenced by the Jesuit model and by progressive 19th century views, education was meant as preparation for life, whereby students were taught to develop the judgment and discrimination necessary to incorporate their accomplishments into a larger perspective.

Character formation was an important dimension of the Cornelian philosophy of education; close student-teacher interpersonal relationships served, and continue to serve, this aim. As our mission reflects, we see the process of moral development as a primary component of teaching and learning. In this connection, Rosemont emphasizes the importance of making reasoned decisions with an awareness of their moral implications. This is manifested particularly in the “Ethics in Action” core requirement for all of our undergraduates, which is unusual for most colleges and universities.

A focus on ethical leadership and social responsibility is thus integral to Rosemont’s mission and priorities. The College’s goals of developing “open and critical minds and the ability to make reasoned moral decisions,” along with its commitment to fostering “reverence for the dignity of each person” and promoting “justice with compassion” serve as the basis for providing students with opportunities for the development of a moral compass and meaningful engagement with the greater community. The Institute will continue and foster Rosemont’s longstanding commitment to preparing its graduates for engaged citizenship committed to working toward the greater good.