Fishing for answers.
Was that what a female University of Saint Francis student was doing with a fishing pole at the edge of Mirror Lake on a sun-kissed late weekday April afternoon?
Perhaps. The private Catholic university is known for its experience-oriented learning opportunities. It's about engaging with the faculty and other students, with the community and the outdoors, while sometimes experiencing out-of-this-world events.
Take the transit of Venus.
That's when the planet Venus crosses the face of the sun. It happens only once or twice a century. It's only happened seven times since humans have had the technology and equipment to observe it.
Saint Francis has both as part of its Achatz Hall of Science. And if you're not in the mood for Venus, the hall has a planetarium that features a variety of events throughout the year in conjunction with the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society.
Yes, the public is invited.
If you want something more down to earth, Saint Francis has begun a series of free lectures called, “The Future of …” They're held at the Saint Francis Performing Arts Center, formerly the Scottish Rite Center in downtown Fort Wayne.
In late April, the focus was on nursing and health care needs.
“The subjects will have high standards,” said Yvonne Schroeder, director of communications at Saint Francis.
All this is part of the Saint Francis experience designed to deliver life-enriching academic bang for the buck from its 103-acre campus on Fort Wayne's west side.
“We have a variety of experiential learning opportunities that invite deeper conversations and explorations about learning specific disciplines,” Schroeder said. “All our schools have second-tier accreditation for our 70-plus undergraduate programs and our 14-plus graduate programs.”
Schroeder said all those programs, and the Franciscan values behind them, foster a strong interaction with the community.
“One hundred percent of our students engage in service learning while they're here,” she said. “They do community service while they're learning.”
That experience results in Saint Francis students being more likely to engage in community service after they leave school, Schroeder said.
What makes this school of 2,300 students “unique and special,” she said, is the “close learning relationship that is formed with students here.”
The National Survey for Student Engagement (NSSE) found that Saint Francis' student-faculty interaction is “higher in all categories than the 60 to 70 other schools in the Great Lakes Private School division,” Schroeder said. “That's especially true for first-year students and seniors.”
Saint Francis has majors ranging from liberal arts to creative arts to health sciences. It combines them with these core Franciscan values as listed on its website: “Reverence the unique dignity of each person; Encourage a trustful, prayerful community of learners; Serve one another, society and the Church; Foster peace and justice; and respect creation.”
And above all, as is also stated on the university website, “At the heart of Franciscan spirituality is the rich and infinite mystery of God's goodness.”