Margaret “Mamie” Smith
Vice President for Mission Integration and Campus Ministry
Office of Mission Integration
Franciscan Hall, 202
5200 South Park Ave.
Hamburg, NY 14075
1. Was Hilbert founded on, and is it still affiliated with, principles of a certain faith or religion?
Hilbert was founded on the principles of the Catholic faith and the Franciscan philosophy of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. The FSSJs founded Immaculata College, which later became Hilbert College, through the vision and direction of Sister Edwina Bogel. Hilbert maintains the long-established relationship with the congregation, and it is intent on maintaining the Catholic Franciscan mission of the college as originally espoused by its founders. Hilbert’s trustees, administration, faculty, and staff are committed to adhering to and promoting the Franciscan values and traditions. There is also ongoing input from the sisters into the governance of the college, its plans, and future endeavors.
2. How does Hilbert’s heritage and tradition define the mission of the college?
Mother Colette Hilbert, foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph, held a vision of service which encompassed the poor, the uneducated and those in need. The Franciscan mission of Colette Hilbert is continued at the college which bears her name, through service to as many students as possible who are able to benefit from the educational opportunities provided.
When the FSSJs founded the college, academic excellence and a commitment to the tradition of a rigorous liberal arts foundation was stressed. All efforts to create, sustain and enhance the academic atmosphere of the college and to support academic excellence in its students are still part of the Franciscan mission of the institution. In addition, Hilbert stays true to its Catholic Franciscan foundation by promoting core values of service, respect, compassion, peace, hope, joy, integrity, and vision.
3. What are Hilbert’s Franciscan core values?
The core values that provide a framework for the Hilbert community to accomplish the college mission are service, respect, compassion, peace, joy, hope, vision, and integrity. Defined in our Franciscan tradition, they are as follows:
4. What relevance does a values-based education have today?
In teaching our students, Hilbert seeks not only to educate the mind but the heart as well. The core Franciscan values help individuals to relate positively to one another, the environment, and God; to respect human life and life in all forms; to respect the uniqueness of individuals of all classes, cultures, races, and religions; to promote change through vision, hope, and peace; to be persons of integrity; and to be compassionate and of service to others. These values are vital as our students assume their responsibilities as global citizens.
5. Does Hilbert’s academic curriculum and nonacademic activities reflect the religious affiliation of the college?
While respecting academic freedom, the Catholic Franciscan values are reflected in our academic curriculum where and when appropriate. In addition, religious studies is one of the required General Education modules. Students must, therefore, take at least one religious studies course. Among those course offerings is a class in Franciscanism.
On the nonacademic side, there are numerous activities and events in keeping with our heritage. Students and parents are introduced at orientation to the story of Mother Colette Hilbert and St. Francis. This is expanded upon in the freshman Foundations Seminar classes. St. Francis Week activities include a Peace Walk, a Franciscan speaker, and blessing of the animals. A Live Nativity is an annual event in December. There is also much involvement in community service projects through Campus Ministry, the Hilbert Honors Program, and campus clubs. And service learning is a component in a variety of courses.
Moreover, there are visible symbols on campus that are reminders of our religious affiliation. Among these are banners imprinted with the Franciscan values that hang in the campus quad; the college’s St. Clare Chapel; Tau crosses in the classrooms; a large San Damiano crucifix that hangs in Franciscan Hall, the college’s administrative building; and a 50-foot long wrought iron outdoor sculpture depicting the life of St. Francis adorns the front of Franciscan Hall, to name just a few.
6. Are students, professors and staff of other religions welcome at Hilbert?
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