Mary Chase, Creighton University, Answers Five Questions

Change the world in Christ's image.

Study humankind.

Transform yourself and your community.

Seek truth in all you do.

Go forth and set the world on fire.


These principles of a Jesuit education as defined by St. Ignatius of Loyola are the foundation of the education and student life at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Mary Chase, Creighton's Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, joins us this month to answer five questions about this private Roman Catholic school that is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country.

Creighton was founded in 1878 with a bequest from Mary Lucretia Creighton in memory of her husband Edward, an Omaha businessman with interests in cattle ranching and banking and who played a role in the development of the transcontinental telegraph line. More than 130 years later, Creighton would become the first university to notify students of acceptance by text message.

The 132-acre Creighton campus just outside Omaha's downtown district today is host to more than 4,000 undergraduates who arrive from 47 states and more than 40 countries and can choose from among more than 50 majors. With 759 full-time faculty and an undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio of 11 to 1, the average class size is 22 students.  Last year, 36% of all Creighton graduates went on to professional or graduate school and 51% of graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences continued their studies.

When they're not in the classroom, students can choose to participate in more than 200 campus organizations -- from the Student Art League, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, and Dance Company to Habitat for Humanity, Pep Band, and the literature journal Shadows. About a quarter of undergraduates participate in the 13 sororities and fraternities on campus.  Ministry also plays a large role in the life of Creighton. Last year, students, faculty and staff contributed more than 295,000 volunteer hours and service-learning is incorporated into many of Creighton's academic classes.

The Bluejays -- or Jays -- participate in 14 NCAA Division I sports in the Missouri Valley Conference. The university also hosts club sports in men's hockey, lacrosse, rowing, rugby, soccer, ultimate, and volleyball; women's lacrosse, soccer, ultimate and volleyball; and co-ed mixed martial arts and running club. If you can't find anything there, try the Ski and Snowboard Club, Dance Team or Swim Club.

Join Mary Chase here to learn more about this nationally recognized university and its future, the kind of students who thrive there, and exactly what it means to pursue a religious education…

What is the future direction of Creighton University?

These are truly exciting times to be a part of Creighton University.  Creighton has invested nearly $400 million in campus renovation and development over the past decade, which has dramatically enhanced the learning and residential experience of our students. Impressive state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, spacious residential living, a student life and learning center, women’s sports arena and a new fitness and sports center have been a part of the expansion plan for the University.   The synergy created by our campus expansion and the redevelopment of Omaha’s downtown will enhance the learning environment for years to come. 

In addition to the physical improvements on campus, we have formalized our individualized advising program, now known as the Creighton EDGE®.  This one-of-a-kind advising program was built on a strong foundation of academic advising.  The EDGE® incorporates experiential learning such as mentoring, coaching, and shadowing opportunities, faculty-led research, learning labs, internships, and jobs in the students’ desired fields of study.  The program is also more intentional about helping students to discover study abroad programs that integrate into the curriculum, as well as interactive leadership opportunities, learning communities, and service experiences.

Bottom line is that our students can be assured of being educated in state-of-the-art facilities with advising and academic planning custom-tailored to suit them.  Couple this with accelerated combined degrees and preferential and accelerated admission to Creighton’s graduate and professional programs and these are clearly exciting times to be a part of the Creighton community.

What kind of student does well at Creighton? How would you describe the student body?  What would you most want an applicant to the school to know?  

Students come to Creighton to become experts in their chosen fields. They are serious learners with a passion to leave the world a better place. With recognition from prestigious organizations such as the Fulbright Fellows and Goldwater Scholars programs and extraordinary synergy among undergraduate, graduate and professional faculty, it's not surprising that Creighton launches about half of its graduates immediately into medical, dental, pharmacy, physical or occupational therapy, graduate or law school. Creighton is one of only 280 universities to host a chapter of the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society, the Phi Beta Kappa Society

Our students also have a strong desire to learn beyond the walls of the classroom at Creighton. We intentionally apply theory to practice to give students practical experience.  Students need to be somewhat adventuresome and will be encouraged to participate in a wide variety of experiential opportunities, enriching their academic life as they gain practical knowledge working in areas suited to their interests – from internships and jobs to research and learning labs.

Service to others is also a critical part of the culture at Creighton.  As a Jesuit University we are committed to leaving the world a better place.

Creighton students, alumni, faculty and staff have completed more than 295,000 hours of community service and been involved in more than 800 service programs locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

As VP of Enrollment Management at a Jesuit university, are there any myths about a religious education that you would like to address?

Simply stated, you don’t have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic college or university.  About 40% of our new enrolling students at Creighton are not Catholic and we have more than 40 different faiths represented on campus.  Because we take our mission seriously you will find that Creighton is a place where character and integrity matter deeply, where ethics and values are taken seriously, where each individual is important and where all are encouraged to be fully, authentically themselves.  And, in the finest Jesuit tradition, we fundamentally commit ourselves to sustained intellectual inquiry and reflection. Creighton is a place where we challenge ourselves and our students to achieve excellence, and we seek to define that excellence within our wider mission and purpose.  Our students experience good teaching, thoughtful mentors, and abundant undergraduate research/internship opportunities preparing them for a life lived well.  If these are values that resonate with students, faith is not an issue. 

We introduce students to the complexities of Catholic social thought, as well as to the important contributions of other major faith traditions. Along the way, our students also gain crucial skills for the workplace, a lifelong commitment to learning and service, and a broad understanding of human knowledge. 

What is your best common sense advice about the application process for students -- and parents?

My best advice is to be yourself and make a decision you are comfortable with.  I always tell students to remember they will only have one alma mater for their undergraduate education.  They need to choose wisely.  When I think about my life-long friends, I think about my college friends.  Many of us do.  The factors students consider when coming out of high school are sometimes irrelevant just months after enrolling.  Being worried about the proximity to the dining hall won’t matter.  The experiences you are able to take advantage of while in college and the people you are able to meet will define your future in a meaningful manner.  Find a place where the values of the student match the values of those attending.  Students should surround themselves with students who will challenge them to think in ways they haven’t before.  They should expect to build a network they can depend on in good times and bad, personally and professionally.  Trust me when I say, the quality of food and the number of friends that attend that school from a students’ high school become distant thoughts after embracing the campus community.

The other consideration I have is that students look for a school that will challenge them in ways they haven’t thought possible, but are willing to support them along the way.  Too often top students will accept a large merit award rather than investing in a school where they would be challenged.  I realize college is a big investment, but the returns could depend on the types of people students surround themself with.

What is your favorite thing about Creighton?

With the fear of sounding cliché, my favorite thing about Creighton is the people and the city of Omaha.  Creighton attracts some of the most talented and humble people I have encountered.  The Midwestern warmth coupled with brilliance and innovation makes this place hard not to love.  When you combine the intellect of the campus community with the city of Omaha, it is a match made in heaven.

Omaha is thriving, cosmopolitan, friendly, and young, with 35 percent of the population under 24. It’s a great city with wonderful restaurants, quality shopping, world-class galleries and museums, large parks, an internationally known zoo, and competitive and entertaining sporting events. The city has invested more than two billion dollars into redeveloping the Missouri riverfront, including our CenturyLink Center Arena (home of the Jays!) and miles of walking and biking paths, and two riverfront parks.  It is a very healthy living environment.  What’s not to love when there is one of everything and little or no traffic to create stress!



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