Michael Puma (center) designed the Messina program with fellow co-director Douglas Harris, Ph.D.
Loyola University Maryland’s Messina program wins mission integration award from ASACCU

Loyola University Maryland’s Messina program is the winner of a 2015 Best Practices for Mission Integration award from the Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU).

The awards recognize three higher education initiatives that contribute significantly to residence life, student activities, or diversity and inclusion, and integrate Catholic teaching and identity. Messina received top honors in the residence life category. Nearly 50 programs from 33 colleges and universities were submitted for consideration. 

“I am tremendously grateful for this recognition of what Loyola’s vision has been for Messina from day one: a transformative experience for first-year students living and learning together, and a foundation for success in their academic pursuits,” said Michael Puma, student development co-director of Messina. “As a Jesuit institution, we deeply value community, discernment, and shared experiential learning—all of which are strengthened by Messina and now affirmed by an esteemed national organization.”

Messina is a program for first-year students that features two linked seminar courses connected by one of three themes. Students live in Loyola’s residence halls in proximity to other students who are enrolled in the same Messina seminar courses. Messina offers numerous opportunities for students to participate in events, performances, and excursions designed to extend learning beyond the classroom, build stronger communities around learning, and establish deeper relationships with faculty, administrators, and fellow students.

Messina was launched in fall 2013 for roughly one-third of the first-year class and will expand to the entire first-year class in fall 2015. The program’s benefits are already clear. In a recent survey of Messina students, nearly 86 percent indicated they feel they belong at Loyola and 77 percent said they developed meaningful relationships with at least one other student through participation in Messina. More than 75 percent said they think often about their possible career choices, and 88 percent students confirmed they used knowledge and skills discussed or developed in classes to contribute to their understanding of content in other classes. These outcomes, among others, address ASACCU’s “Principles of Good Practice.”

The Messina program is named after the city in Italy where St. Ignatius and the Jesuits founded their first school for lay students in 1548.

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