Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., Visits Austin Campus to Discuss Jesuit Higher Education

Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., Visits Austin Campus to Discuss Jesuit Higher Education

Rev. Kevin O'Brien, S.J., poses with faculty and staff at Austin, TX campus.

Rev. Kevin O'Brien, S.J., center left, poses with faculty and staff in Austin.

Further enhancing the interchange and continuity between campuses, Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., led a discussion with Austin-based faculty and staff about Jesuit higher education and the role of Jesuits in supporting the mission of Fairfield University.

In Jesuit education, we care not only about what our students do but who they become as persons.

— Rev. Kevin O'Brien, S.J.

Faculty and staff at Fairfield University’s Austin campus enjoyed a reprieve from their usual end-of-term tasks for a conversation about how their work supports the mission of Jesuit higher education. The discussion was led by Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., vice provost and executive director of Fairfield Bellarmine, who made his first trip to the new campus for the informal event.

Fr. O’Brien visited the Austin campus at the start of National Nurses Week, and his timing could not have been better. As campus leaders expressed their appreciation to nursing faculty, Fr. O’Brien elevated the celebration by encouraging faculty and staff in the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing & Health Studies to interpret their daily interactions with students as expressions of love.

“A Jesuit education is about discovering truth, beauty, and goodness,” said Fr. O’Brien. “When you bring people closer to these virtues, you bring them closer to God.”

As background to the discussion, Fr. O’Brien shared the conversion story of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and touched on the Ignatian values of finding God in all things and caring for the whole person. A lively discussion ensued, as attendees reflected on the various ways that their pedagogies and interactions embody these values.

The conversation provided an occasion for a productive interchange between campuses. Part of a larger strategy to foster unity across locations, this and other such events create shared experiences that promote belonging and deepen institutional ties.

“The team in Austin was thrilled to welcome Fr. O’Brien to campus,” said Lucina Kimpel, PhD, MSN, RN, director of the Accelerated Second Degree Nursing program in Austin. “His presentation enriched our understanding of Fairfield’s Jesuit identity and our appreciation for the academic experience it animates.”

Fairfield Austin offers two degree programs, a second degree bachelor of science in nursing and a doctor of nursing practice in nurse anesthesia. It is one of two extension campuses operated by the University. The other is Bellarmine Campus in Bridgeport, Conn., where the Fairfield Bellarmine program offers associate's degrees to under-represented students in the Greater Bridgeport area.

As the conversation in Austin came to a close, Fr. O’Brien reminded participants that the hallmark of Jesuit higher education is not mere academic mastery but the formation of men and women for others.

He repeated the point for emphasis: “In Jesuit education, we care not only about what our students do but who they become as persons.”

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