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World Union of Jesuit Alumni Alain Deneef, Vice-President ICJSE, Boston College, 1 August 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "World Union of Jesuit Alumni Alain Deneef, Vice-President ICJSE, Boston College, 1 August 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 World Union of Jesuit Alumni Alain Deneef, Vice-President ICJSE, Boston College, 1 August 2012

2 Dear Friends, What is the link between the following persons ?… Voltaire, Pieter-Paul Rubens, Rabindranath Tagore, Charles de Gaulle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Michel Foucault, Kurt Schuschnigg, Franz Mesmer, Miguel de Cervantès, John Paul Getty, Abbé Pierre, Torquato Tasso, James Joyce, Pedro Arrupe, Molière, Bachir Gemayel, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Philipp und Georg von Boeselager (German officers opposing Hitler), Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Alfred Hitchcock, Karl Rahner, Ivo Andric, Jan Berchmans, Jacques Lacan, Matteo Ricci, Luis Bunuel, Oscar Romero or Farrokh Bulsara aka Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen… but also two dozens of popes and a dozen of Prime Ministers in my home country, Belgium… You’ve got it by now : they all are jesuit Alumni

3 But these are deceased people, what about the living ? Denzel Washington, Bill Clinton, Thomas de Maizière, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, corporate CEO’s Baudouin Prot (BNP), Carlos Ghosn (Renault-Nissan), Carlos Brito (AB Inbev), Lakshmi Mittal (Arcelor Mittal), Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Harry Connick Jr, Jean Vanier, Paulo Coelho, George Martin (arranger of the Beatles), Albert Jacquard, former Prime Ministers Ruud Lubbers and Dominique de Villepin, Pat Ewing, Vicente Fox, Tom Clancy Jr, Hubert Reeves, Prime Ministers of Italy Mario Monti, and of Spain Mariano Rajoy or my fellow Belgians Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council), and Jacques Rogge (president of the IOC)… but also 54 US congressmen from the US colleges and universities These people irradiated their time and space through their talents, and sometimes their genius, and/or they led extraordinary lives, and/or they became jesuits…

4 How many Alumni, you’ll wonder, are there worldwide ? 1.An approximate but simple math gives us 3 millions for the secondary schools, 7 for the colleges and universities, 1 for the technical schools, which make up for 11 millions people, the equivalent of Belgium’s population (out of the 1000+schools and colleges, 450 have an Alumni association) 2.Of course, we cannot take for granted that they are all interested nor committed to their school, the jesuits and, let alone, to being ‘Men and women for others’ 3.So, let’s assume modestly that 1% would be : that is still a staggering 100.000. 4.100.000 is enough to seize the power in almost any country (except Belgium where nobody really knows where the power is…) What if we could harness that potential for a greater good ? 1.Albeit light, we would need a structure to do that, right ? 2.Well there is one : the World Union of Jesuit Alumni or WUJA 3.It is not new : WUJA was created in 1956 in Bilbao 4.And you’ve probably never heard of it… How come ?

5 WUJA has remained pretty much a European affair, reflecting the European Alumni reality Let me quickly explain to you the way Alumni are structured in the world : at the two ends of the spectrum : the US model and the EU model, with all other modalities in between, to be found in the world Because of state-financed education In Europe and a lesser need for fund-raising, the Alumni are not controlled and managed by the institutions themselves, on the contrary of what happens in the US These local associations, generally registered not for profit organizations, mushroomed and, soon, national federations and (sub-)continental confederations emerged, turning WUJA into a pyramidal structure where the members are not the Alumni themselves but the local and national entities That structure was typical of the old order of things : vertical and hierarchical and not very capable of really communicating : so, while organizing world congresses every ten years, then every 6 years, the executive Council would meet only once between two congresses… The structure favored also pretty classical activities, with a rather conservative view, rejoicing at good old times, when the Society had not started to change the way it has since then : a pyramid of old boys clubs, loosely related with each other

6 Hence, WUJA has remained pretty much a sleeping body, but this has changed over the last ten, and even more, the last five years : WUJA has started waking up and warming up to the realities of the new world The globalization and increased mobility of our people : the rhythm of our congresses has increased with congresses being held every 4 years and meetings of the Executive Council every year The Internet revolution : it has made possible to work as a much more efficient body The shrinking of the number of Jesuits : it fostered the collaboration between them and this specific group of lay people who are the Alumni A mental shift : we went progressively away from the old boys club mentality, heading towards SJ priorities, like ongoing formation, refugees and Africa So, how do these new realities translate into action ?

7 Engaging our Alumni in activities which local associations cannot attain or organize, acting as facilitators, taking into account the subsidiarity principle (‘don’t do at a higher level, what you can do best at a lower level’) Engaging our Alumni to network : the 2013 Medellin World Congress 1.Workshop this afternoon held by Fabio Tobon, Past president of WUJA 2.US congress of 2017 : as per our statutes, the following congress has to be held in the US : any candidates ? Santa-Clara ? Chicago ?, Boston ?, Fordham ?, Georgetown ? Engaging our Alumni in global projects : 1.Bujumbura business school : as per the resolution of our congress in Bujumbura, we took upon us to establish a business school there with other partners institutions (Belgian universities of Namur and Antwerp, Saint- Joseph University in Lebanon and sought after partners in India and the US) 2.Sending of eye-surgeons of India to Burundi and exchange of college students

8 Engaging Alumni where there are (and they are very mobile), in what they do (and they are so diverse) and through their new ways of communicating Engaging our Alumni where they are : establishing local chapters : 1.Creating local chapters : we want to follow our Alumni where they are : in big cosmopolitan cities, like Brussels, Paris, Madrid, London, etc. : a first event will be organized in Brussels at the end of 2012 2.I know of similar ideas in the US where jesuit colleges and universities could found a club in NY and other big cities Engaging our Alumni in what they do : professional seminars and specific activities 1.A first seminar was held in Paris : ‘Medicine with a human face’, more to come about Finance, Law, engineering a.o. 2.Experiments are organized for the younger Alums before every congress, offering them the opportunity to discover the social realities of the visited country Engaging our Alumni on an individual basis, in their new ways of communicating 1.Revamping our web site and establishing our own data base of Alumni volunteering for international exchange and projects : we don’t want to compete with the local associations for the money of their Alumni 2.Harnessing the power of social networks : you can’t prevent people to create Facebook groups, but we can feed those groups otherwise a little idle 3.Making our Newsletter digital : until now, we were sending our bulletin by post

9 Dear Friends, We, at the level of the executive Council, know that we embark on a very long journey that will require time, money, people, and much discernment and dedication I know how ambitious this program can sound, but some first modest steps will help us in the right direction. And the executive Council of WUJA sees it as a duty to embrace this challenge. After all, if we, as a global body, cannot embrace the increasing complexity of our world with such a vast number of highly educated people, many of whom are devoted to the jesuits and the respective communities they live and work in, and some of whom are true ‘Men and women for others’, we will have failed. If we, jesuit Alumni, who boast our education all the time, don’t go for it, who else will ? I invite you this afternoon for our workshop and I thank you for your attention

10 Information ? Alain Deneef Vice-President of WUJA deneef@skypro.be


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