Name: Rev. Michael J. Doody
Title: Director of Restorative Mentoring
Students seem to gravitate towards you. Why is that? Maybe it is because I remind them of their grandfathers! I have a good sense of humor, I am a good listener, and I attend many student events. I also take seriously where the students are in their lives. If something that would not seem naturally significant to me at my age is significant to a student, I try to see the issues through their eyes and their lenses. I celebrate with them when they get on the Dean’s List and I commiserate when they feel they have not been treated fairly. I also keep what they tell me to myself.
What have you learned that was unexpected? I have worked in higher education for 25 years and I constantly experience the unexpected. Every student is unique, and though many may have what appear to be identical experiences, they way each student is affected is unique to them. I am frequently and happily surprised to get an e-mail from a student I did a favor for years ago thanking me for a favor or for spending some time with them.
You’ve been working in higher education for a long while…what has changed most since you began working on college campuses? Most people would bemoan the increase abuse of alcohol and drugs and the overly sexualized hook-up culture as the most serious problems on college campuses. I do not downplay the seriousness of those things. What I think is just as serious, and perhaps contributing to those other issues, is the cost of a college education and the stress related to getting a job after college.
If you were advising a younger you, what advice would you give? If I were a younger me, I would advise students to take advantage of every opportunity and every service they can at Fairfield. Get involved, go abroad, take some risks to broaden themselves – and in the midst of all that, do not leave your faith and religion on the back burner. Work at developing an adult relationship with God who celebrates the good in your life and sustains you through the dark times.
You lead a busy life, is there a place you like to go for some quiet? I do lead a busy life, but that is what extroverts do! Once a year I go to my brother’s condo in Mexico with a Jesuit friend of mine and sit on the beach and read novels all day. Other than that, I try to spend some weekends with family and friends. I also like to just hibernate on a long weekend when students are away. I am always happy to see them come back.
If you hadn’t become a Jesuit, what career path do you think you would have followed? I entered the Jesuits a long time ago! I hardly remember what other career paths I would have followed. I guess, given my MBA and management talents I would have gone into business.
If young professionals see you as a role model, what would you tell them to replicate? I would hope they might like to imitate the patience I have with students. When babies learn to walk there is a lot of stumbling and falling so adults help to keep them from getting hurt. Late adolescence resembles learning to walk. We should be there to help students through the process. A hand held out in support is far more effective than a hand held out to chastise or reprimand.
Is it hard to be constantly humorous? Life is too short not to have a sense of humor. I am one of seven children from an Irish-American family. We all learned to laugh – at one another and at ourselves.
What keeps you up at night? I generally sleep pretty soundly. Every once in a while there is some noise on my floor in Gonzaga that wakes me up. I get up and bark loudly at the culprits and they generally run for cover pretty fast.
What would you say are Fairfield’s core strengths (besides being Catholic and Jesuit)? Among Fairfield’s core strengths are its faculty and staff who are truly committed to the education of our students in every way – academically, spiritually, emotionally and in terms of seeing society through multiple prisms, including justice, honesty, integrity, faith and family. Our students do not leave here with a simple academic transcript making them suitable for employment. They leave here as men and women who will be true leaders in a world for which they are responsible.
You often dine with students, what is your favorite meal at the Main Dining Room? I generally have breakfast and lunch in Barone. I like the food generally. I cannot say publicly what I like best because my doctor would forbid me to return! What is best about every meal anywhere is the company. That is true in Barone or the Ritz!
What is your favorite travel destination? My favorite travel destination is Rome. I can never get enough. My second favorite is London, where I have spent 23 of my last 25 summers working in poor parishes.