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Regis continues Jesuit tradition
Photo courtesy: Regis Jesuit University

By James Mejía

For the 23rd consecutive year, Regis University has earned a top tier ranking for “Top School in the West” by U.S. News & World Report. This year’s undergraduate enrollment is just over 4,000 with total enrollment around 11,000. Besides the North Denver main campus, three additional locations - Thornton, the Denver Tech Center, and Colorado Springs serve as Regis sites. Besides offering health services, computer and information sciences, the Colorado Springs location houses a Military and Veterans Resource Center. Not surprisingly, U.S. News and World Report gave Regis high ranking for serving military vets (#17).

Regis’ 100-acre North Denver campus is a designated arboretum featuring more than 1,200 trees. Along with the natural setting, religious art is placed throughout campus. The university chapel serves as the setting for landmark masses as well as a respite for quiet contemplation.

Founded in 1877, Regis is one of only 28 Jesuit universities across the country. Jesuits are known for working for the greater societal good and questioning the status quo. In the Jesuit tradition of intellectual, philosophical and spiritual curiosity, the institution’s overriding question is “How ought we to live?”  

According to the university, “Regis… educates men and women of all ages to take leadership roles and to make a positive impact in a changing society. In the Catholic and Jesuit tradition, we seek to provide values-centered undergraduate and graduate education, as well as to strengthen our commitment to community service.” Jennifer Forker, Interim Director of Communications noted, “Our students put in 62,678 total service learning hours in the 2016-17 academic year.”

Regis senior and President of the Student Government Association, Enrico Gomez, believes community connection stems from more than community service, “Through required courses focusing on pressing societal issues such as poverty, racism, sexism, and more, students gain knowledge that enables them to be future change agents for good regardless of their major.” Gomez continues, “If students have a passion for change, being involved, solving complex problems, and leading, opportunities to build those skills are plentiful and accessible.”

Forker paraphrases University President, Rev. John P. Fitzgibbons, S.J., saying, “The University doesn’t exist only to serve its students but to serve the society in which we live.”

Regis is known for accessible professors, student-led discussions, and small class size. Sixty percent of classes have fewer than 20 students and the average class size ratio is 14 students to every instructor. Besides small classes and access to professors, Gomez believes a small university offers other advantages, “… students from different sub-cultures know each other, and opportunities to build meaningful relationships are plentiful.”

Medical courses of study, including a celebrated nursing program, business courses, and non-profit management are some of the more popular majors on campus. Tuition and fees are $34,000, although 67 percent of undergraduate students receive some amount of financial assistance. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school 28th in the region for value.

The Latino Experience

Nearly 1700 of Regis’s 11,427 students (14.9 percent) self-identify as Latino according to Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services, Judi Diaz Bonacquisti. She highlights the work of Regis leadership to set the tone for the university including statements made by university president Fitzgibbons on immigration, “The separation of children from their parents at our southern U.S. border must end now. They do not represent a threat to our borders or our national sovereignty. This abuse of distressed children is simply immoral.” Fitzgibbon’s statement continues, “Regis University also calls for an immediate end to this policy and more humane treatment of our immigrant community.”

Even though the small school environment encourages high contact for students and staff, the environment for Latinos can be challenging according to Regis student, Estefan Escoto. He points to “culture shock” some Latino students experience, “… mingling with students from more privileged backgrounds.” Escoto is thankful for the Latino affinity group SOMOS that offers Latino students a common space. The university also has affinity groups for African American, Asian and LGBT students. Escoto is appreciative that staff, “… is well trained in facilitating discussions about race or gender,” and “… does not tolerate any ignorant racist, sexist, ageist remarks made in classrooms.” Even though Latino themed events like Cinco de Mayo have been successful and campus meetings have been held to address issues like DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Escoto laments the low number of professors and staff from Latino backgrounds. Escoto notes that the university has gone out of its way to protect DACA students including statements made by, “… Father Fitzgibbons and many other staff members.”

Vanessa Vega left Regis for another university but thoroughly enjoyed her time at Regis, “Open-minded comes to mind when thinking of the environment for Latino students and staff. I don’t remember ever feeling like I was unwelcome or like I could not be myself. The university is small enough that one fellow Latino can find another.” Vega felt like she was never judged for speaking Spanish or suggesting they cook Mexican food, “I could truly be myself while knowing that I would still be accepted because that was the type of welcoming community that Regis maintained.”

Athletics Reflects Values

Regis’ success in athletics at the Division II level is reflective of the Jesuit belief in holistic teaching. As Forker says, Regis values a “…strong liberal arts background — in music, art, history and more — to teach to the whole person. It’s cura personalis, care for the whole person.” With that foundation of thought, Regis athletes are also outstanding students with an average grade point average of 3.37 and 3,300 hours of annual community service.

Even with the stress on academics, the university boasts broad accomplishments as a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC). They list the following conference and tournament titles:

The women’s golf team won its first RMAC Championship ever in the spring of 2017. 

The women’s lacrosse team won its second RMAC tournament in school history.

The women’s soccer team won the RMAC regular season championship for the sixth time.

The women’s volleyball team had a 31-4 record in its 2017 season and made it to the DCAA Division II Elite 8.

The men’s basketball team won its first RMAC Tournament Championship in school history in its 2017 season. The team finished its 2017 season 27-6.





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