The work of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture focuses on three major areas of interest: education, dialogue, and outreach.
Each of these areas includes numerous programs and activities that aim to fulfill our mission on the University campus and beyond. Each of these areas involves numerous people, including students, faculty, staff, visitors, celebrities, experts, and donors.
To learn more about how we "open the door" to the engagement of faith and culture in our world, just as St. Francis de Sales did in his time, follow the links below:
Include continuing education programs in Salesian spirituality, research projects linking faith and culture, and student groups for specialized learning
Include various presentations, focused discussions, and inspiring arts.
Include groups of professionals, both on- and off-campus, who collaborate in areas of ethical concern, such as healthcare, business, sports, and communications.
Ryan Leadership Institute (RLI)
This institute emerged in collaboration with the Catholic Leadership Institute in Philadelphia. Under the administration of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture, this leadership institute represents a uniquely designed two-year initiative to provide students with a program of personal growth and leadership training in the context of Catholic spirituality.
Membership in the Salesian Leadership Institute is by invitation only and is ordinarily limited to 15 students each year.
- To support the future life and work of the Church, by fostering a deeper commitment to the Roman Catholic faith and to campus/parish communities
- To disseminate the distinctive charism of Salesian Spirituality, by providing a more in-depth education in this religious tradition
- To effect a transformation of individuals, by developing an awareness of personal talents and inter-personal communications
- To inspire future leadership of self and others, by developing practical skills through individual reflection, expert coaching, and group activities
- To effect a transformation of culture, by enacting the spiritual and personal dynamics of the institute through leadership in student, civic, and ecclesiastical organizations
Students also benefit:
- personally—forging relationships that positively influences one's future
- spiritually—seeing how faith is a key component to human happiness in any career
- educationally—learning skills taught in the best executive training programs in the corporate world
Applying to RLI
- The Faculty/Staff Review Committee of the Salesian Center' for Faith & Culture nominates prospective members
- The members of the RLI Staff evaluate the students' academic achievement (minimum 2.75 GPA required ) and involvement in student activities and generates a list of students to invite.
- The Director of the Salesian Center extends the invitation to apply for membership in the institute and conducts interviews with the applicants.
To be selected for membership, students must commit to:
- Attending two (2) weekend retreats and all ten (10) meetings throughout their Junior year at DSU
- Participating actively in all activities of the Institute
- Attending six (6) leadership workshops throughout their Senior year at DSU
- Serving in a leadership capacity in a recognized student club, team, or organization during the student's Senior year at DSU
- Engaging in follow-up evaluations at the end of each year of the institute and following graduation from DSU
L.E.A.P. - Ryan Leadership Institute Hero's Journey
During their Junior year, students in our Ryan Leadership Institute participate in two programs that focus on intra- and inter-personal development. These programs have been adapted from the Catholic Leadership Institute to reflect the distinctively Salesian character of our institute.
The Leaders Experiential Adventure Program is a three-day retreat, held off-campus at the beginning of the academic year, which focuses on the discovery of one's personal profile and the development of one's personal mission. Through participation in a "mountain adventures" experience, the retreat promotes skills development in terms of clarity, courage, choice, and support. A second retreat at the end of the academic year, also held off-campus, draws the year-long program to its conclusion with a co-missioning ceremony for the class.
The Being Energized and Inspired Together program is a series of ten (10) two-hour meetings, held on campus in the evenings, which focuses on personal reflection and group discussion. Materials for these sessions promote skills development in terms of leadership of self, creating winning relationships, and leading others to a better future. The sessions are facilitated by faculty/staff trained in Salesian leadership.
B.E.I.T sessions are hosted in the Faculty Dining Room, near the bookstore, in the DUC from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. (unless otherwise noted)
Fall 2019 Semester
Thursday, Sept. 12
Thursday, Sept. 26
Thursday, Oct. 24
Thursday, Nov. 14
Tuesday, Dec. 3
Spring 2020 Semester
January 12 (4:30 pm session / 6:00 pm alumni/student dinner)
Week of Jan. 27
Week of Feb. 17
Monday, March 16
Thursday, April 13
Closing L.E.A.P. Retreat: Friday, April 17, 2020 through Sunday, April 19, 2020 (tentative)
During their Senior year, students in our Ryan Leadership Institute participate in two programs that focus on the learning and application of practical skills.
The Business Education in Skills & Techniques program consists of six (6) workshops, conducted three times each semester, in which business professionals offer a variety of skills that would be applicable in any career or corporate setting, such as
♦ projects ... how to create a proposal and/or make a formal presentation
♦ personnel ... how to market oneself, conduct interviews, and/or complete performance appraisals
♦ communications ... how to engage in active listening, interact with different generations, and/or craft public relations
♦ groups ... how to conduct efficient meetings and/or navigate a corporate culture
♦ finances ... how to create an operating budget and/or review a financial statement
♦ events ... how to plan, promote, and assess activities
Workshop Calendar for 2019-20
September 16, 2019: How to Prevent Burnout with LINA BARBIERI, Associate Vice President for Annual Giving , DeSales University
October 21, 2019: How to Adult with MIKE COLEMAN, Founder/CEO, The Social Profit
November 18, 2019: How to Market Yourself with KATHY KRAUSE, Coordinator of Experiential Learning, DeSales University
February 10, 2020: How to Manage Money with TOM CICHOCKI, Senior Vice President Morgan Stanley Wealth Management
March 23, 2020: How to Effectively Manage Stress: the perspective of a recent grad with GABE LAMM, SPT, DeSales University RLI class of 2019
April 6, 2020: How to Be Hospitable with KRISTIN EICHOLTZ, Executive Director of the Career Development Center, DeSales University
D.O.I.T. - Senior Service
D.O.I.T. - As the acronym implies, leadership students are required to take an active role in a campus organization of some kind (e.g., team, club, committee, etc.); alternatively, students may design and execute a unique project on campus. The purpose of these "service" projects is to put into practice, for the benefit of the campus community, the valuable tools learned in their junior year during the retreats and B.E.I,T, sessions.
A brief HISTORY of the Ryan Leadership Institute
In 1965 one of the foremost thinkers in the business world, LARRY WILSON, founded the Wilson Learning Corporation, which would become the second largest training company in the United States. In 1985 he launched the Pecos River Learning Center in New Mexico as a site for training business leaders. In 1990 a successful Catholic businessman, TIMOTHY C. FLANAGAN, discovered his mission in life during an executive leadership retreat at Pecos River. Tim felt a profound sense of being called to bring to the Catholic Church the best in leadership and personal
development programs to help people understand their purpose in life and reach their God-given potential as leaders in our world. Thus was born Catholic Leadership Institute (CLI).
In 1999, a successful marketing executive, MATT MANION (who is married to DeSales alumna Kerrianne Dougherty ’96), volunteered for a year to serve CLI and four years later he became its President/CEO. Under Matt’s leadership, the programs adopted from Pecos River – L.E.A.P. and B.E.I.T. – were revised to reflect thoroughly Catholic teaching, and their use expanded to include college and university groups. In 2004 FR. THOMAS DAILEY, approached CLI with a proposal to transform the leadership programs for a third time. Together, with Oblate faculty at DeSales University – FR.’s PETER LEONARD, DOUG BURNS, ALEXANDER POCETTO, CHRIS HUDGIN, MARK PLAUSHIN AND JOHN HANLEY, the program was compressed into an academic calendar and the materials were revised to reflect the distinctive teaching of St. Francis de Sales and the Salesian tradition. In this way a new Salesian institute for leaders came into being. The first cohort began the two-year pilot program, in collaboration with CLI, during the 2005-2006 academic year.
Since 2010 the administration of the institute has been wholly assumed by the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture at DeSales University. In the Fall of 2012 members of the RYAN FAMILY FOUNDATION established an endowment to honor the founding role in this Institute played by their parents, JANE & FRANK RYAN, and to provide a stable financial foundation for its future.
Students in the Program
CLASS OF 2020
Jessica Amick, Medical Studies Major
Mariana Aversa, Biology Major
Jack Carney, Medical Studies Major
Keegan Coffield, Accounting Major
Austin Erdossy, Sport Management Major
Vincent Groelly, Finance Major
Christina Hansen, Medical Studies Major
Mary O’Malley, Health Sciences Major (PT)
Ryan Schaub, Sport & Exercise Physiology
Claudio Velardo, Biology Major
CLASS OF 2021
Morena Best, Early Childhood Education major
Nicholas Bowen, Business Administration major
Zachary Bowen, Healthcare Administration major
Annie Brush, Sport & Exercise Physiology major
Christian Bryson, Sport & Exercise Physiology major
Helen Cao, Nursing major
Grace Denarski, Sport & Exercise Physiology major
Erin Chioffe, Nursing major
Kathryn Kmetz, Biology major
Kaitlyn Klosz, Medical Studies major
Matthew Kraus, Biology major
Oleksandr Kolesnikov, Biology major
Vincent Maria, Biology major
Alexa Rhodunda, Biology major
Kelly Mulhern, Medical Studies major
Sean Tunney, Sport & Exercise Physiology major
Brianna Lonergan, Medical Studies major
Faith & Reason Honors Program (FRHP)
The aim of this program is to provide scholarship-level students with a unique opportunity to explore the "big questions" in life, in a small cohort of students, guided by senior-level faculty at DSU. Its inspiration and organization come from the encyclical letter on this topic written by John Paul II.
In August of 2001, DeSales University was named as one of six finalists in a national grant competition among Catholic colleges and universities (funded by Dr. Donald D'Amour, executive officer of Big Y Foods, Inc.). DSU received a grant in the amount of $75,000 to initiate a new program that would explore faith and reason in a liberal arts education.
After completing the requisite university approvals, the honors program began with the enrollment of its first class in Fall 2002 and the offering of the first course in Spring 2003.
The honors program comprises three main components:
- Honors Seminars—one-credit classes each semester, in the form of "conversations" about the big questions of life.
- Cultural Events—off-campus educational experiences, typically one each semester, chosen by individuals or classes.
- Honors Thesis—an independent project by which Seniors research, write, present and publish a major paper
Student participation in the Faith & Reason Honors Program is competitive, usually limited to a maximum of fifteen (15) students in each academic class. Membership in the program is by invitation only and requires a completed application.
Student and faculty participants in the program gather annually for an Honors Colloquium. At this event the "Faith & Reason" award is presented to the student judged to have written the best honors thesis that year. At the end of the academic year, the senior theses are edited and published in an honors journal entitled On the Wings of Truth which is made available through our online library.
Each semester, students in the Honors Program enjoy "priority pre-registration" for all their classes. Students who complete all components of the program have their participation noted on their university transcripts and receive recognition of their accomplishment at the University's commencement ceremonies.
Ordinarily, if a student misses more than two seminars in a semester, s/he will be dismissed from the honors program unless there is a serious extenuating circumstance for an additional absence.
Students in the Faith & Reason Honors Program are expected to participate in at least one "cultural" event each semester (usually held off campus). Information on special events, as well as links to local calendars, can be found below. Students should check with the faculty seminar leaders and/or the director of the Salesian Center concerning the suitability of events for inclusion in the Honors Program experience.
The Honors Program requires the completion of six (6) one-credit seminars that integrate faith and reason in an on-going "conversation" about the big questions of life. Students complete one seminar each semester.
Seminars consist entirely of discussion about assigned readings, chosen among classical and/or contemporary texts from a variety of academic disciplines. The seminars meet weekly for one hour during the Fall and Spring semesters and take place under the direction of one or more senior faculty leaders, who will select pertinent readings and guide lively discussions on existential questions.
"They are questions which have their common source in the quest for meaning which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives." John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, no.1
Students who participate in the seminars regularly and actively receive a grade of "A" for the course. Completion of three one-credit seminars fulfills one "free elective" requirement for graduation (with a maximum of six credits = two free electives). Credits received for these seminars do not fulfill any General Education Core requirements.
Continued participation in the seminars is at the discretion of the faculty leaders and the director of the Honors Program. The following seminars are offered through the "Liberal Studies" program of the Division of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences at DSU:
LS 4001-Spring semester, Freshman year-Thursday, 8am: Conversations about Being Human (The Person) with Rodney Howsare, Ph.D. (Professor of Theology) What is the origin and destiny of the human person? What is distinctive about being human? Is there such a thing as human "dignity"? How do I become who I am?
LS 4003-Spring semester, Sophomore year-Thursday, 8am: Conversations about The World with Andrew Essig, Ph.D. (Professor of Political Science)What drives the history of the world: politics, economics, culture? How does seeing the world through the lens of politics affect our global perspective? What lessons can we learn from international relations for making the world a better place in today's time?
LS 4005 - Spring semester, Junior year - Tuesday, 8am: Conversations about Truth with Gregory Kerr, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Philosophy) Does life make sense? Can I really know anything (skepticism)? Is there objective truth (vs. relativism) and how do I know it?
LS 4002 -Fall semester, Sophomore year-Tuesday, 8am: Conversations about God with William Hamant, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Theology) Does God exist (classical atheism)? Does the existence of God matter (contemporary atheism)? How can God be "good" with so much "evil" in the world?
LS 4004 - Fall semester, Junior year -Tuesday, 8am: Conversations about Beauty with Stephen Myers, Ph.D. (Professor of English) What is beauty and how do I recognize it? What is happiness and can I have it? Is there more to life than the material world?
LS 4006 - Fall semester, Senior year -Tuesday, 8am: Conversations about Goodness with David Gilfoil, Ph.D. (Professor and VP for Marketing & Planning) How can people in the world relate well to one another? Can there be a just society? Does freedom have any obligations? What is the common good?
As the culmination of their educational experience, students in the Faith & Reason Honors Program are required to write and publish an honors thesis (30-50 pages in length) during the Spring semester of their Senior year. They present their work during the colloquium in April.
Development of the Honors Thesis (research and writing) is directed by a full-time faculty member at DeSales University and counts as a 3-credit "independent study" course in the Division of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (LS 499); with the approval of the director of the Salesian Center, the course may be credited in the respective department/division of the student or faculty member. This course fulfills a "free elective" requirement in the student's General Education Core curriculum.
The topic of the thesis and the faculty member who directs the research are both chosen by the student, with the approval of the director of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture.
To receive academic credit for this project, students must register for an "Independent Study" course. To do so, students must complete the appropriate approval form, which is available from the Academic Affairs Office or from the University's web site.
Each student makes a five-minute summary presentation of his/her thesis at the annual Honors Colloquium. At the Colloquium, the best thesis each year, as judged by the Review Committee of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture, receives the annual "Faith & Reason" award.
Honors theses are published by the Salesian Center on a list below: On the Wings of Truth Honors Thesis.
Timetable for the Spring 2020 semester
Monday, January 13
Registration for the "Independent Study" course
Monday, April 6 due by 5:00 p.m.
Draft of thesis to be submitted electronically to the Salesian Center for evaluation by Review Committee
Tuesday, April 7
Thesis distribution to Review Committee
Tuesday, April 14
Review Committee submits its evaluations of each thesis. After we score the results, two semi-finalist theses are sent to Review Committee.
Tuesday, April 14 by 5:00 pm
Review Committee receives the top two choices, one each group has already read.
Monday, April 20
Selection of thesis winner is conducted by Review Committee @ 12:30 lunch
Friday, April 24
Students undertake revisions of the thesis in view of the final submission and eventual publication
Sunday, April 26
6:30 p.m. - University Center
Honors Colloquium, during which each thesis is presented by the author
Saturday, May 9
Final version of the thesis to be submitted to the director of the program as well as to your faculty advisor
Friday, May 22
Publication of the Honors Theses in On the Wings of Truth
The Honors Colloquium is the year-end celebration of the work of students in the Faith & Reason Honors Program. Culminating four years of study, by way of six honors seminars, the colloquium offers to the Seniors an opportunity to share the fruits of their scholarship with the University community.
Participants in the Honors Colloquium include all student members of the program, all faculty teaching in the program, the staff (members and advisors) of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture, and other invited guests. Alumni of the Honors Program are also invited to return to campus to participate in the event.
At the colloquium, each Senior presents a five-minute summary of the Honors Thesis that he/she developed during the semester. The colloquium concludes with the presentation of the annual "Faith & Reason Honors Thesis Award", as judged by the Review Committee of the Salesian Center.
The next Honors Colloquium takes place on Sunday April 26, 2020, from 6:30 to 8:45 pm.
Honors Application for Membership
Membership in the Faith & Reason Honors Program is by invitation and application only. Membership is limited to fifteen (15) students in each academic class.
Each Fall, invitations to apply to the program are extended to members of the Freshman class who maintain Presidential or Trustee scholarships, as defined by the Office of Enrollment Management at DSU (approximately 80-95 students in all).
Applications consist of:
- a letter of intent on the part of the interested student
- a letter of recommendation from a DSU faculty or staff member
- a brief writing sample (2 page max)
The application process typically follows the calendar below.
- Early October - invitations to apply to the program are sent by email to scholarship students
- Monday after Pacer Break - Deadline for submission of applicants to the Director of the program
- October - Applications are considered by the Review Committee of the Salesian Center
- Friday before pre-registration - New Honors class is notified of acceptance into the program
Students in the Program
CLASS OF 2020
Alexandra Ayers, Theatre Major
Emily Belanger, Criminal Justice Major
Taylor Congdon, Theatre Major
Francis Krug, Nursing Major
Vincent Groelly, Finance/Accounting Major
Tyler Sarge, Mathematics Major
Paige Merrill, Dance/Exercise Physiology Major
CLASS OF 2021
Wesley Carroll, Accounting Major
Micah Wasser, Biology Major
Carmine Cicalese, TV/Film Major
Hagar Fadel, Biology Major
Hannah Fresa, Biology Major
Micaiah Humes, Dance Major
Vincent Maria, Exploratory Studies
Mark Stenske, Medical Studies Major
CLASS OF 2022
Nolan Beck, Exploratory Studies
Meghan Corbran, Nursing
Nathan Hatzfeld, Criminal Justice
Mark Jannuzzi, History
Logan Marsh, Management
Emma Stanfield, Business Administration
Kai Taylor, Medical Studies
Sean Wiser, Sport Management
On the Wings of Truth Honors Thesis
Each Spring semester, the students in the Senior class of the Faith & Reason Honors Program undertake a 3-credit independent study, the culmination of which is a 30-50 page honors thesis. The topic of the thesis is chosen by the student, with the approval of the the director of the Salesian Center for Faith & Culture and their faculty advisor.
The best thesis each year, as judged by the Review Committee of the Salesian Center, receives the annual "Faith & Reason" award.
CLASS OF 2019
Best Thesis: David Talarico - Homosexuality and Catholicism: On the Road to Sainthood
Yesha Shastri -
Don’tBe Afraid to Stand Out: The Impact of Social Identity on Opportunities in the Workforce
Caroline Accurso - Implications of Catholic Social Teaching for Capitalism
Alaine DeSantis - Jesus Christ: The Desire of Every Man’s Heart
Bridget Walsh - The Ethics of the Discrepancy of Participation: Funding, and Exposure for Women in College Athletics
Zach Kratz - Using Literature as a Vehicle for Teaching and Discussing Economic Theory
CLASS OF 2018
Best Thesis: Erik Cudo - Medical and Catholic Ethical Concerns in CRISPR Technology
Dylan Bortz - A Whole New World: An Analysis of Exoplanets and Life in the Unknown Universe
Kayla Alderfer - The Role of Analogy in an Adequate Epistemology
Jake Stoudt - Virtue Ethics and the Rise of Darth Vader
Matthew Trovato - Substance, Relation, and the Human Person
Alexander Bondi - Capitalism and Catholicism: are they compatible?
Hannah Popp - Femininity -- The Search for Essential Meaning: A Synthesis of Catholic Minds
Matthew Reeder - Mathematics and its Relationship with Christianity
CLASS OF 2017
Best Thesis: Gina Galassi - Divine Mercy: God’s Greatest Gift
Ryan Jordan - Catholic Social Thought Throughout the Business World
Angeline Lonardi - Still Hurting: The Catholic Church and Palliative Medicine
Allison Myers - The Origin and Laws of the Universe Support the Existence of a Divine Creator
Sean Palen - Catholicism and Capitalism: Giving to Get More From Life
Rochelle Salib - A Framework for the Role of Healthcare in Christian Global Missions: Short-Term Missions without Long-Term Harm
Christina Tran - God is With Us: Exploring How Mathematics Connects to God
CLASS OF 2016
Best Thesis: Ryan Fischer - Modern Day Frankenstein or Medical Marvel: A Bioethical Evaluation of Human Head Transplantation Based on the Catholic Understanding of Human Dignity
Casey DeStasio - The Ethics of Animal Testing in Medicine in Accordance with the Catholic View of Animals
Janalyn Frederick - The Importance of Interfaith Dialog between the Mennonite and Catholic Churches
Hutton Jackson - The Underlying Causes of Sexual Violence: How Pornography, Sexual Violence Depicted in Interactive Media, and Sexualized Advertising Are Contributing to Sexual Violence in Society
Matthew Jesiolowski - A Discussion on Artificial Intelligence
Robert Johnson - The Holy Roman Empire and the Thirty Years' War: An Analysis of a Religious Conflict
Monica Lupin - End of Life Decisions
Theresa Marlin - The Scientific Basis for Human Personality
Emily Marshall - Physical Activity and its Effects on Childhood Development and Success
Darryn McCauley - Sighting Through the Wrong Scope: Why Complex Psychological Phenomena Defy Scientific Explanation
Kaitlyn Mills - Mental Illness in the Modern Age: How Stigmatization Violates the Dignity of the Human Person
Brittany Pierzga - Native American Cultural Appropriation: A Misinformed America, an Underrepresented Culture, a Stolen Dignity
Amanda Tarantino - The Need for Christian Humanism in the Care of Older Adults
Stefanie Wolcott - Global Migration Trends, Human Rights Concerns, and Catholic Social Teaching