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MINNEAPOLIS/WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota has been awarded a $1,732,643 grant from the Kern Family Foundation for the university’s School of Education Character and Virtue Initiative.

Using grant funding, Saint Mary’s will develop an enhanced curriculum for current and future educational leaders that places a strong emphasis on moral character, virtue, and ethics. The course content will be enhanced using the University of Birmingham’s (UK) Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtue framework. It will be customized to align with the Lasallian Virtues of a Teacher and the Cardinal Virtues matrix already informing the university’s mission and practices.

“Saint Mary’s is a Lasallian Catholic university with a strong reputation for preparing the majority of our state’s educators and educational administrators, and — thanks to this generous grant from the Kern Family — we will strengthen the licensing programs for principals and superintendents, as well as directors of special education by placing character and virtue education philosophies and practices into current programming,” said Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary’s. “This initiative aims to change the face of education today by equipping educational administrators with the framework for virtue that needs to be at the forefront in our schools, and in the hearts and minds of those leading our schools.”

Other components of the initiative include establishing an annual retreat on character and virtue in leadership, developing a Character and Virtue School Leadership Academy, designing a character and virtue professional development series for partner schools, and creating online modules. In addition, Saint Mary’s will explore other program pathways and credentials related to this theme that includes microcredentials, certificates, and additional degrees.

“We are incredibly grateful to the Kern Family Foundation for partnering with us on this important initiative,” said Audrey Kintzi, vice president for Advancement and Communication at Saint Mary’s. “School administrators have an arduous but extremely important job and, as they face the many challenges that exist in today’s education systems, our goal is to arm them to lead with integrity and to set an example for their faculties and staff and the students in their care.”

“Our School of Education prides itself in being one of the state’s largest providers of principal, superintendent, and director of special education candidates,” said Lynn Albee, Ed.D., interim dean of Education. “Through our collaborative relationship with eduCATE, we are able to positively impact the educational experiences of students in Wisconsin as well. This is an exciting opportunity for Saint Mary’s Educational Administration program to really make a difference in the lives of Midwest school leaders, as well as children in schools.”