Sr. Mary Paul: A Perfect Fit For Dominican

March 1, 2016

By Christopher Sich

On Feb. 17, Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey took the stage in the Martin Recital Hall and brought the story and lessons of St. Dominic to life through her outgoing personality. Sr. Mary Paul opened her body to the audience and spoke with confidence and passion, as the 800 anniversary of the Dominican Order became a celebration of life. As she spoke her sense of humor, contagious smile and warm aura welcomed and captivated the attention of the crowd.

Sr. Mary Paul is not afraid to crack a joke and have fun. She connects with not only theologians and professors, but she speaks in a manner that students can also understand. She speaks with liveliness and exhibits positive energy inside and outside of the classroom. Her character is a prime example of Dominican’s mission of Caritas (love) and Veritas (truth), making her a perfect fit.

Sr. Mary Paul started teaching in 1970 – at a middle school in Quincy – and has stayed in teaching and/or education administration ever since. This year she came to Dominican as the 10th annual Lund-Gill Chair in the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, teaching an honors theology course, “Saints, Scholars, and Activists: The Dominican Integration of Truth.”

“It is an honor to have been selected as the Lund-Gill Chair,” Sr. Mary Paul said. “I have enjoyed every second. I’ve had to rediscover studying and teaching.”

Sr. Mary Paul values the gift of knowledge, which is found in the classroom through the communication between a teacher and a student.

“I love the interaction that can be found between life and young people,” Sr. Mary Paul said. “I love the dynamic dialogue that can be found in the classroom.”

Sr. Mary Paul holds a master’s degree in theology from St. Louis University and in international business administration from the University of Notre Dame. She has also served as the superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools for six years. Her theological knowledge and exceptional leadership, along with her contributions to Catholic education, have influenced Dominican University and the students in her theology course.

“Sr. Mary Paul is doing a fantastic job; I have learned a lot about the history of the Dominican Order,” said junior Nicole Heiberger, a student in Sr. Mary Paul’s course. “She is able to relate the history of the Order to education, political science and current events during lecture.”

Heiberger says that Sr. Mary Paul preaches that theology is not solely a separate area of study, but that it can be applied to various different disciplines.

The Lund-Gill chairs have knowledge in, and come from, a variety of disciplines.

“We want to bring people who represent a wide range of academic discipline,” said Dean of Rosary College, Jeffrey Carlson.

According to Carlson, Sr. Mary Paul as well as previous Lund-Gill Chairs, were selected based on suggestions from faculty members. Faculty members offer suggestions and then the suggestions are discussed with the honors program.

Dominican’s website explains that the Lund-Gill Chair is named after former president Sr. Candida Lund and former English professor, Sr. Cyrille Gill. The Lund-Gill Chair, in the Rosary College of Arts and Sciences, brings to campus an individual of the highest moral as well as the highest intellectual reputation, “who can address the themes and issues at the heart of the liberal arts and sciences”.

The Lund-Gill Chair is usually someone who is not from Dominican University. Only once in the 10-year history has a Dominican faculty member be named the Lund-Gill Chair. However, this is going to change.

“Next year an internal person will be Lund-Gill Chair; the year after it will be someone from outside of Dominican,” Carlson said. “We may go into that process of having an internal member as Lund-Gill Chair every other year.”

Carlson says that this change will help cut costs and conserve spending. He also believes that that it will be nice to feature in acknowledging “our own people”.

The Lund-Gill Chair for 2017-2018 has already been selected and all we know is that it will be an award-winning foreign filmmaker.

“We are currently in conversation with him; the announcement may come sometime in the fall,” Carlson said.

Dominican takes the selection of the Lund-Gill very seriously. As it is seen through Sr. Mary Paul’s work, the Lund-Gill Chair exemplifies Dominican’s belief and mission.

Students are suggested to contact Dean Carlson, Mickey Sweeney or Clodagh Weldon if they have any ideas regarding the kinds of people, or areas of expertise, that they would like for the Lund-Gill Chair.

Imagine if a Nobel-prize winning doctor, a CEO or your favorite author, were to walk the same hallways as you. You have the voice to make it happen.