On the Bell Tower in the middle of campus are inscribed the words that inspire Rockhurst University’s mission, vision, and values:
“You are called by the Society of Jesus to be men and women who reflect upon the reality of the world around you with all its ambiguities, opportunities, and challenges, to discern what is really happening in your life and in the lives of others, to find God there and to discover where God is calling you, to employ criteria for significant choices that reflect Godly values rather than narrow, exclusive self-interest, to make decisions in the light of what is truly for the greater glory of God and the service of those in need, and then to act accordingly.” Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., 29th Superior General of the Society of Jesus, 1997.
Rockhurst University exists to transform lives by creating a learning community centered on excellence in undergraduate liberal education and graduate education. Rockhurst is Catholic and Jesuit, involved in the life and growth of the city and the region, and committed to the service of the contemporary world.
Rockhurst University will be nationally recognized for transforming lives and forming leaders in the Jesuit tradition. Inspired by the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola, this Catholic university community seeks to make God’s good world better through learning, leadership, service, and the pursuit of justice.
Finding God in All Things
Our Jesuit Heritage: St. Ignatius Loyola taught that all created things owe their existence to a loving God who is revealed in the world and in human beings. The world is a place where God meets people, a place of grace and goodness, and a place to live as authentic humans before a loving God. As reflections of a loving God, all created things have inherent dignity and goodness and are worthy of respect and care.
Living Our Tradition Today: We believe that God is actively working in our lives and world; therefore, we strive: To search for and find God in every circumstance in life, not just in explicitly religious situations. To grow in love—love of God, of our neighbor, and of the world. To deepen our relationships with God and our own religious traditions. To model that all aspects of learning and teaching are relevant ways of encountering and responding to God.
Our Jesuit Heritage: We respond gratefully to “finding God in all things” with a desire to seek what brings about the greater glory of God. We desire to respond in the fullest, most authentic way possible, always asking, “What more can I be and do?” Through ongoing reflection and discernment at both the personal and structural level, we desire to think and act creatively and to challenge the status quo when appropriate.
Living Our Tradition Today: We are committed to excellence; therefore, we strive: To understand better ourselves and others as people loved by God. To seek greater knowledge of the academic, spiritual, and social disciplines. To give greater love, care, and compassion for our neighbor. To find more purposeful and effective ways to carry out our work.
Reflection and Discernment
Our Jesuit Heritage: God has created us with the ability—through reflection and discernment— to discover God’s guidance and will in every part of creation. We are called to apply this reflection and discernment to our lives and our human relationships, seeking always to discover how God wishes us to interact with others and the world around us. By attending to motivations, feelings, thoughts, and patterns of decision-making, we can improve the freedom, goodness, and authenticity of our actions.
Living Our Tradition Today: We are committed to the examined life; therefore, we strive: To seek for a greater knowledge of all creation. To reflect on our own lived experience of the world. To discern the movements of our heart and reason. To listen to the experience of other people.
Cura Personalis—“Care for the Whole Person”
Our Jesuit Heritage: God desires all persons to discover how to live more fully, more freely, and more authentically as the people God has made us to be. To help people do this, we honor, care for, and educate the whole person by encouraging all people to strive after intellectual, physical, artistic, social, psychological, moral, and spiritual health and well-being. In our human relationships, we respect and nurture the whole person, not just on our campus, but in the neighborhood, city, and beyond.
Living Our Tradition Today: We are committed to caring for others in and outside the classroom; therefore, we strive to help people: To understand their inherent human dignity. To reach their greatest human potential. To share their experience and knowledge with others. To act in a way that reflects this growth.
Contemplation in Action
Our Jesuit Heritage: Our reflection and discernment leads to action that builds up our community, serves others, promotes justice, and leads others to similar action. Because we all have the ability to discover God’s will and guidance and to act accordingly, we are called to respond purposefully by freely giving what we have been given by God. We believe that people can make a claim on our time, energy, and attention and that there is a necessary connection and interdependence between us.
Living Our Tradition Today: We are committed to just action through leadership and service; therefore, we strive: To take responsibility for our gifts and talents and to help build up the gifts and talents of others. To be agents of transformation especially in the areas of social justice and equality. To bring our best resources to bear on creative responses to problems and challenges.
Wisdom—Sapientia Aedificavit Sibi Domum—“Wisdom Has Built Herself a Home”
Our Jesuit Heritage: Wisdom is the product of the search for God in all things, the reflection and discernment on God’s good world, the striving for more, and the care of the whole person. The more that we know about ourselves, others, and the world, the more we know about God and the better we can make sound judgments. Our search for wisdom demands not only academic excellence but also the integration of faith with learning. If we are true to these foundational principles, the result will be the attainment of Wisdom.
Living Our Tradition Today: We are committed to learning; therefore, we strive: To learn about all aspects of this God-charged world. To create an environment that values and champions the search for and communication of knowledge. To examine the moral and ethical implications present in each discipline and program. To view religious experience and religious questions as integral to the understanding of human existence and culture. To foster love of the world that leads to the desire to create a better and more just existence.
The underlying spirit of Rockhurst University was born in 1521, when a Spanish soldier was struck in the leg by a cannonball at Pamplona. That soldier, later to be known as St. Ignatius of Loyola, used his recovery period to develop his spirituality and approach to life. That new spirituality led to the formation of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). The subsequent Jesuit tradition of service to others through a value-centered liberal education has been renowned worldwide for more than 450 years. Today there are 186 Jesuit Colleges and universities throughout the world; 28 of them are in the United States.
Rockhurst University was founded in Kansas City in 1910 with a charter from the state of Missouri empowering Rockhurst University to grant degrees. The construction of Sedgwick Hall in 1914 allowed the opening of high school classes in 1914; college classes began in 1917. Small in numbers but infused with the Jesuit spirit, the first Rockhurst University students were all taught by the Rev. Alphonse Schwitalla, S.J. Just as the Jesuit order grew from the calling of one man into a worldwide force, so Rockhurst has grown from the dream of a small, hardy crew of Jesuits into an institution with national reach.
Today the University serves approximately 3,000 students at its campus in Kansas City’s cultural district. Both undergraduate and graduate degree programs feature the lifelong liberal arts learning approach that is a hallmark of Jesuit education.
A summary of historical highlights is offered in the “Rockhurst Traditions ” section.