Published: October 16, 2009
Layer by layer, UT’s newest addition is slowly evolving steel and bolts
into the Sykes Chapel and Center for Faith and Values. Ready and eager
now, though, are the students and staff participating in programs
offered by the Resource Team for Faith, Values and Spirituality.
chapel construction triggered the formation of the resource team which
was launched in the fall, said team leader and Associate Dean of
Students Stephanie Russell Holz, adding that it is filling a gap in the
UT community. In essence, they couldn’t wait until the chapel’s
“We felt this initiative is bigger than a building.
That’s why we decided to start now,” said Holz, also the director of the
Office of Student Leadership and Engagement. “We’re filling a need,
creating excitement for when the chapel does open, and we’re hopefully
relieving any nervousness about the chapel.”
Unveiled during the
groundbreaking, Holz said the resource team’s mission is to further
strengthen UT students’ academic and personal development through
character-building, spiritual development and enhancing their
understanding of world cultures and religions.
“There are people
out there who aren’t religious but who might be into world cultures,”
she said. “Hopefully, our programs are broad enough and encompassing
enough that everyone can find something they are interested in.”
Spirituality and Film Series debuted Sept. 25 with the showing of Doubt
with more than 90 students engaging in discussion afterward.
The Last Lecture b
ook club started Oct. 2 and will meet again Oct. 16, followed by the
Life of Pi
book club on Oct. 30 and Nov. 13, each with more than 15 students, faculty and staff per group.
“The goal is to get people to have meaningful conversations,” Holz said. “We want to trigger people to talk.”
Bahl ’10 said that she believes this kind of programming will help
dispel a lot of preconceived notions students have of the chapel.
programs help students go into depth and understand the different ways
this place can be used and what sort of discussions will be brought on
from it,” said Bahl, who is majoring in advertising and public
Community Conversations kicked off in October and
involves three lunch gatherings where faculty, staff and students are
grouped for that meaningful conversation. While munching their lunches,
they chew over topics like if humans are born with a conscience.
Wistocki ‘13 said he joined Community Conversations as a way to meet
student peers and professors while providing a break from the stress a
freshman feels from multiple angles.
“I was a bit apprehensive
to sign up because it seemed to be one of those opportunities that could
be either great or a bit regrettable. Yet, my first impression was far
from regrettable,” said Wistocki, who is majoring in international
business and public health. “I was very surprised by the informal
process of the meeting and how easy it was to engage within the
conversation amongst so many others. While at times it seemed the
conversation moved towards a dead-end, it remarkably was picked back up
and moved along.”
“Everyone was engaged in the topic and the
group was presented in a way that made me personally feel comfortable
and free to speak without any predetermined judgment,” he said.
on response to these piloted programs, Holz said they most likely will
be repeated and expanded in the spring. A Feb. 20 values-based retreat
has been scheduled in conjunction with Spartan Leadership Connection and
is open to 100 students.
For more information, contact the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement at (813) 253-6233 or
. A calendar of events is also listed on
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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