Neumann University identifies itself as a Catholic University in the Franciscan tradition and takes seriously a commitment to what it calls “the Franciscan point of difference.” In August 1998, the college established the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies (NIFS) to advance the Catholic and Franciscan intellectual tradition. The Institute, in collaboration with the Vice President for Mission and the Campus Ministers, serves the scholarly and spiritual needs of the entire college community, with a special focus on faculty support. In 2000, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia endowed the Institute to ensure continuous quality staffing and programming. Since its founding, the Institute has undertaken many activities to help the University community understand, own, and integrate the Catholic and Franciscan mission of the college.
The logo of the Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies speaks simply of the love Francis and Clare had for the poor crucified Christ. The San Damiano Cross symbolizes the central theme. This Cross was hanging in the abandoned San Damiano Chapel outside Assisi when Francis went there to pray in 1206.
During a time of intense prayer, Francis heard the words: “Francis, go and repair my house which as you see is falling into ruin.” Later, St. Clare and her companions lived in a monastery attached to the Church of San Damiano. Today, the original San Damiano Cross hangs in the Basilica of St. Clare in Assisi.
On either side of the cross are the medieval letters "F" and "C." The cross connects the lives of Francis and Clare illustrating their faithful response to following in the footprints of the poor crucified Christ.
Zachary Hayes, OFM (August 26, 1998)
Ingrid Peterson, OSF (October 5, 1999)
Michael Blastic, OFM (October 4, 2000)
Margaret Carney, OSF (October 1, 2001)
Thomas Bourque, TOR (September 30, 2002)
Joseph Nangle, OFM (August 25, 2004)
Charles Finnegan, OFM (December 1, 2005)
Kathy Warren, OSF (February 27-28, 2006)
Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (August 21, 2007)
Michael Calabria, OFM (September 5, 2008)
Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (August 26, 2009)
Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (October 5, 2009)
Pam Wood (October 26-27, 2009)
Darleen Pryds (October 25, 2010)
Diane Tomkinson, OSF (April 11, 2011)
F. Edward Coughlin OFM (August 24, 2011)
Rev. Anthony Ciorra (December 8, 2011)
Timothy Johnson, Ph.D. (January 10, 2012 in collaboration with Office of Academic Affairs).
related to the mission theme for the year.
Artistic, musical, and literary presentations featuring guest speakers: including:
Andrea Likovich, OSF in 2002
Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella on September 30, 2003
Leonardo Defillipis on October 27, 2005
Murray Bodo, OFM on October 22, 2007 and May 4, 2012
Melinda Parsons, Ph.D. on February 22, 2010 and April 16, 2011
Philadelphia Art Museum lecture and tours on October 29, 2004 and December 10, 2010
Lectures featuring Neumann University presenters, including:
Dr. John Mizzoni on October 28, 2003
Dr. Maria Traub on November 6, 2003
Dr. Connie Korteland on February 16, 2005 and April 6, 2011
Professor Ron Chance on March 23, 2005
Dr. John Kruse on November 28, 2006, December 1, 2008, March 16, 2009, and March 20, 2012
Dr. Eileen Flanagan on March 1, 2007, March 16, 2009, and February 15 and 27, 2012
Dr. Mac Given on March 29, 2007
Dr. Janet Massey, Dr. Mac Given, and Leon Francis on March 19, 2007
Dr. James Houck on March 9, 2010
Dr. Richard Sayers on October 6, 2010
Dr. Kathleen Conn on March 21, 2011
Marina Espiritu Lutz on March 29, 2011
Rev. Philip Lowe on September 25, 2012
Sr. Pat Smith on October 18, 2012
Dr. Robert McMonagle and Dr. Geoffrey Karabin on October 22, 2012
Dr. John Kruse and Dr. Len DiPaul on April 10, 2013
Book discussions on the following:
A Franciscan View of Creation: Learning to Live in a Sacramental World, Ilia Delio, OSF, Lent 2004
Francis of Assisi: Performing the Gospel Life, Lawrence S. Cunningham, Lent 2006
Care for Creation[A Franciscan Spirituality of the Earth] Keith Warner, Ilia Delio, and Pam Wood, Lent 2009
Rejoicing in the Works of the Lord: Beauty in the Franciscan Tradition, Mary Beth Ingham CSJ, Fall 2009
Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI, Lent 2010
Women of the Streets: Early Franciscan Women and Their Mendicant Vocation, Darleen Pryds, Fall 2010 through Spring 2011.
Christian Simplicity: A Gospel Value (Lent 2011)
Sustainability and Catholic Higher Education (Lent 2012 and 2013)
Publication of newsletters highlighting the activities of the NIFS and sharing local and national efforts to promote understanding of the Franciscan tradition
Co-sponsorship (with the University Library) of the Frances and Wesley Bock Book Award for Children’s Literature
Collaboration with the Office of Experiential Education to promote academic Service-Learning in light of the Catholic and Franciscan Tradition
Collaboration with Franciscan Action Network to promote advocacy issues related to care for creation, peacemaking, poverty, and human rights
Collaboration with Franciscan Spiritual Center to make relevant programs available to faculty and students
Collaboration with the Care of Creation Council to promote respect for the environment through support of educational programs, lectures, and other initiatives
Collaboration to ensure that the Catholic and Franciscan tradition and values are integrated appropriately into the academic program.
Development and implementation of Mentoring for Mission Program for new faculty members (initiated in 2007)
Contributes to the orientation and on-going development of faculty with respect to the University’s Catholic Franciscan identity and mission
Provides in-service programs to the various academic divisions within the university; consults individually with faculty members; and speaks with classes in order to integrate the Catholic and Franciscan tradition into course work
Assists students with research projects to ensure integration of Catholic Social Teaching and the Franciscan worldview
Participates in the review of hiring and evaluation policies to ensure integration of the Catholic Franciscan mission
Assists with the selection and preparation of faculty, staff, and students for the AFCU annual pilgrimages to Assisi
Prepares and/or procures and disseminates resources related to the Catholic and Franciscan intellectual tradition
Encourages and financially supports attendance at regional and national events on Catholic Social Teaching, the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition.
An advisory group supports the work of the Institute, helps to develop and implement a comprehensive strategic plan, and plays a key role in developing activities which support the annual university-wide theme. The Neumann Institute for Franciscan Studies Committee supports and advises the Director of the NIFS by planning, developing, and promoting activities which advance the Catholic Franciscan intellectual tradition and University identity.
The work of the Neumann Institute is guided by a strategic plan which is updated regularly. An Annual Report is published yearly. The strategic plan and the Annual Report are available through the NIFS Office.