Creating a Clear Path

The Most Reverend Robert McElroy, bishop of the Diocese of San Diego

DIOCESE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS OFFERED A TORERO PROMISE 

From an initial vision to the present, the University of San Diego and the Catholic Diocese of San Diego have a long and rich history of collaboration and working for the common good.

The diocese was instrumental in the university’s early years. Since the San Diego College for Women merged with the College for Men and School of Law to form the USD we know today, the institution has been governed by an independent board of trustees. By charter, that board includes the bishop of the San Diego diocese or his delegate and another appointee, as well as members of the Religious of the Sacred Heart.

In the spirit of this bond, it was only natural that when USD, its board of trustees, President James Harris and top administrators were envisioning the university’s educational future, they focused on concrete ways to better serve and support the city, the diocese and local college-aspiring students as an anchor institution. The end result was a plan to establish a true connection between USD and the diocese.

Enter the Torero Promise, an idea created by Stephen Pultz, assistant vice president for enrollment. The program will give students attending one of five Catholic high schools within the Diocese of San Diego, which include the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, St. Augustine, Mater Dei, Cathedral Catholic and Vincent Memorial, a “clear and direct pathway” to continue their Catholic education at USD.

“It’s really a guaranteed admissions program,” explained Pultz. “It’s an opportunity for high school students — who, at the end of their junior year, have at least a 3.7 weighted grade-point average and have taken a solid comprehensive college prep program and challenged themselves appropriately — to be guaranteed admission to USD by filling out an application during their senior year.”

The Torero Promise is effective for incoming Fall 2017 USD students, but the most noticeable measurement will be among current high schoolers.

On Feb. 14, USD hosted an event celebrating the Torero Promise and other initiatives that form the latest aspects of the university’s collaboration with the diocese. President Harris, Bishop Robert McElroy, and USD’s Dean of the School of Leadership and Educational Sciences Dr. Nicholas Ladany spoke about the initiatives.

In his remarks, Bishop McElroy praised the ongoing relationship between the diocese and the university.

“For all that this Torero Promise symbolizes of the linkage — the bond of love and affection, of faith and fidelity — between this university and the Diocese of San Diego, I thank you,” he said. “And I thank you for adding this powerful voice in answer to the question of national debate, ‘What makes a Catholic university?’ When I look at all that has been accomplished and undertaken by the university, I say this does.”

Pultz echoed those sentiments. “Being founded by the diocese and being a school that has had such a close connection to the education of our Catholic students in San Diego, we wanted to look at how we could better support these students,” Pultz said. “The college admissions process can be a very complicated one. Students are faced with many choices and different opportunities. We wanted to make a very clear statement that USD can be a great option for students in our local parishes and local diocese.”

The Torero Promise not only provides a clear path to admission to USD for students, but it also adds to the university’s other work with the diocese. “There are more than six collaborative initiatives between the School of Leadership and Education Sciences and the diocese,” says SOLES Dean Nicholas Ladany. “One example is our Academy of Catholic Teaching, which aims to provide Catholic schools with highly qualified teachers.”

Pultz points out that the ultimate goal is to really work together toward a common purpose. “We’re trying to forge closer relationships by matching up the needs of the schools with the expertise and opportunities of the university.”

In the end, it’s all interconnected. “The Torero Promise helps us fulfill the role we have as an anchor institution,” Pultz says. “It supports our Catholic identity, and we know that these students bring so much to the university in terms of their commitment to service, their strong academic abilities, and their desire to make a difference and become Changemakers. For all of these reasons, we’re really excited about the students who will benefit, and believe that we’ll see more students stay here in San Diego and choose to enroll at USD.” — Ryan T. Blystone

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