Thursday, February 26, 2015


The Heithaus Haven

Leadership Award

Presented to

Fred Pestello

President of Saint Louis University

With Deep Appreciation
For His Visionary Guidance
And Undaunted Leadership

In Implementing the "Clock Tower Accords"

Which exemplify the Heithaus Haven's Commitment to

Creating open and public spaces for dialogue

Fostering solidarity across all members of the SLU community


Advancing Saint Louis University
 as a world-class Catholic, Jesuit institution in 
“pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God 
and for the service of humanity.”

On the occasion of the 71st Anniversary of 
The Homily of Fr. Claude Heithaus, S.J. 
Which Called for an End to Racism 
At Saint Louis University 

11 February 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Getting Beneath the Surface of Things

Reflections on the Clock Tower Accords
and the Accomplishment of Conventional Ends Through Unconventional Means

Daniel Monti
Department of Sociology and doctoral program in
Social and Public Policy

Saint Louis University

I can’t claim any special insight into the workings of Fred Pestello’s brain or soul. I take him at his word when he describes his reasoning for sitting down with the “Occupy SLU” crew that camped out at the clock tower this past October.

Some persons have embraced his words and the sentiments they reflect. Other persons have disagreed strongly with what he did and has said about the protesters and the so-called “Clock Tower Accords” that emerged from his discussion with them.

All I can say with certainty is that at some point discussions about the temper and direction of race relations in this country become deeply personal. Pestello certainly sounds as if they are for him. I know they do for me.

My formal training in race relations began in 1959 in the company of my mother, while we were standing in the lobby of the train station in Miami, Florida.

Not that I could have done a damn thing to protect her, but I put my ten-year-old self between my mother and the white people who glared at her as she made a fuss over the young black woman carrying her brand-new baby. The main terminal was spacious, and one might not have seen the disapproving looks or been inclined to ignore them as one would the sideway glances of any passerby. But there was anger in the white faces I saw that day that even an inexperienced child from Jersey could decode. 

My mom, congenitally warm and welcoming, didn’t have a clue that she was crossing a line that wasn’t supposed to be crossed. But I sure did. My mother did her admiring thing for the new mom, who was beaming, and the baby, who was admittedly pretty cute. I stood guard.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Stand with President Pestello

Maggie Needham

As my senior year at Saint Louis University draws to a close, I am amazed at how much has changed since I first stepped foot on SLU’s campus, in 2011. I have seen this university struggle to find its place as a Jesuit institution in the city of St. Louis, and I have seen our campus polarized by issues that should have brought us together. This polarization has stunted our growth as a community, and it has prohibited us from doing the hard work that our Jesuit mission proclaims.

I have also seen many students, faculty and staff dedicate their lives to furthering the mission of our university -- “the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity.” President Fred Pestello has become an invaluable member of our community, taking the time to understand SLU and to work with student and faculty leaders, to continue and to strengthen their work.

When I made the decision to attend SLU, I did so based on the school’s commitment to service, rooted in its Catholic, Jesuit values. I wanted a school that would challenge students to be women and men for and with others, as well as clarify my understanding of social justice. These are the values that make SLU such a meaningful institution; and they are the reason that so many of us choose to invest our lives in the SLU community.

These are also the values that Pestello has embraced and that make him an exemplary leader for our university.

His leadership is moving SLU strongly in the right direction, aligning the school’s actions more closely with its mission. The actions of our new president have been, from the beginning, informed by a dedication to living the the mission’s values. He has explicitly chosen to pursue truth, with every decision he makes, and to engage SLU and St. Louis community that he now calls home. His presence on campus has been marked by listening, collaborating and communicating, with transparency.

Pestello’s interactions with the Occupy SLU movement in October are a prime example of how he lives the Jesuit mission. He could have immediately shut down the protest or confronted the activists as unwelcome outsiders. However, that approach would have ignored the school’s mission in favor of pretending that injustice in St. Louis does not affect us. But the SLU administration, under the leadership of Pestello, used the opportunity to engage in dialogue about racial inequality and learn from voices in our community that are often relegated to the margins.

In an email to the SLU community on Oct. 18, Pestello explained: “What we needed most was to listen and learn and find common ground.” His actions showed the humility and courage that we will all need, if we want to make a positive, enduring change. The pursuit of truth requires that we listen to those around us and learn from their experiences. And service to humanity requires us to take concrete steps to bring justice to all communities.

In agreeing to the Clock Tower Accords, Pestello demonstrated that he was willing to take those concrete steps. He agreed to work with others to strengthen SLU’s relationship with the city of St. Louis, to support students of color at SLU and to engage in dialogue about race. He also agreed to recognize the part that SLU has played in racial-justice issues, with a commissioned sculpture, which would, as Pestello noted, “honor our shared Jesuit values that promote inclusion rather than division.”

This sculpture -- regardless of its final form -- will serve as a testament to SLU’s place in history and in this city, and it will serve as a hopeful reminder that, as always, there is more work to be done.

From day one, Pestello has advocated and practiced open dialogue and humility. He has used his position and authority at SLU to explore how the university community can better serve others. That is servant leadership. And that is valuing social justice, love and unity.

Pestello lives the mission of our university, and he challenges and inspires us as students to live the mission, as well. He challenges us to understand complex issues and engage with those different from us. I appreciate all he has done for SLU in the months he has been here so far, and I look forward to seeing how SLU continues to grow under his servant leadership after I graduate.

I am proud to be a Billiken, and I stand with President Pestello.