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A Brief History of the Heartland-Delta Conference

America and Jesuit Higher Education has entered a new phase of its history. Up to the end of the Second World War, Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States were much smaller than they are today and many of the faculty and administration were themselves Jesuits.

A quarter century later, the scene had changed dramatically. The schools were much larger and served many more students, Jesuits constituted a minority of the faculty and administration, and there was much less of a sense that these 28 institutions were part of a whole, sharing a common identity and purpose.

JesuitsBy the late seventies, steps were initiated to restore a sense of commonality among these schools as a nationwide learning community. The first full-scale meeting, " Assembly '89," drew representatives from throughout the American Jesuit landscape to Georgetown University, the eldest of the 28, on its 200th birthday. Renewed with a sense that Jesuit higher education in the United States was a whole greater than the sum of its parts, those in attendance at "Assembly '89" planned regional follow-up meetings.

In the Midwest, 10 schools assembled at Loyola University Chicago for "Jesuit Higher Education in the Heartland," Heartland I in 1994. The schools sent delegations again in 1997 as Saint Louis University hosted Heartland II. Loyola New Orleans had been a part of the original group of Midwest schools, but when Spring Hill College joined the gathering for Heartland III, the name was expanded to Heartland-Delta to reflect the evolving group of schools. Heartland-Delta III was held at Creighton in Omaha in 2000. Heartland-Delta IV was held at Marquette in Milwaukee in 2004. John Carroll University hosted Heartland-Delta V at its suburban Cleveland campus in 2007. Xavier University has the privilege to host Heartland-Delta VI in Cincinnati in 2010.

The Heartland-Delta gathering has become an essential venue for dialogue and learning about Jesuit education, collaboration and Ignatian spirituality. It offers an opportunity for participants to immerse themselves in a three-day learning experience on important topics and build fruitful, lasting connections with their colleagues. Participants at past Heartland-Delta gatherings have found the experience enriching and even transforming for their work. The conference is sponsored by the twelve Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the five Jesuit Provinces in the Midwest and Delta regions.