The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University, was among campus leaders from across the country invited to partner with the Obama administration in the coming year to further advance interfaith and community cooperation on campuses and connect campus-based initiatives to the administration’s broader service priorities.
The invitation came at a White House event Holtschneider attended that was hosted by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the White House Office for Social Innovation and Civic Participation. Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of Chicago’s Interfaith Youth Core and a member of the Advisory Council for the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, was a primary catalyst for this first-time event.
Holtschneider was one of five panelists who spoke at the event’s presentation, “Successful Models of Interfaith and Community Collaborations on Campuses and Seminaries.” The panelists discussed best practices and recommendations for further integrating interfaith and community service initiatives on college campuses and using the resources of universities and colleges to address social needs in the broader community. Social needs identified as critical by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships include economic recovery, fatherlessness, building common ground on difficult issues and interfaith cooperation and service (leveraging the strength of religious and faith communities to address community needs).
The office sees colleges and universities as playing a vital role in this undertaking because they define and help shape what is important—educationally and civically—for the country; act as a microcosm or laboratory for best practices; advance knowledge of interfaith understanding and an appreciation for the contributions of diverse communities; and train and prepare the next generation of leaders.