Strategic Plan

In 2020, Saint Martin’s University celebrated its 125th anniversary as an institution of higher learning. As we approached this milestone, we drew strength and inspiration from our 1,500-year-old Benedictine tradition and challenge ourselves to advance Saint Martin’s to higher levels of distinction.

Journey to distinction

“Journey to Distinction,” the Saint Martin’s University Strategic Plan for 2020, represents the collective efforts of the Saint Martin’s community. This student-centered plan will guide the work of our University through the next five years and put in place programs and resources that will support our mission and guide our planning for the next twenty. It will help us to navigate the challenges facing higher education today even as we draw strength from our Catholic and Benedictine values and heritage. It will also provide us with direction as we inspire current and future generations of Saint Martin’s students to cultivate their intellectual curiosity, achieve academic excellence, and deepen their compassion for others.

Read and download a copy of the "Journey to Distinction" strategic plan.

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Mission and vision

In 2010, the Saint Martin’s University community developed the following mission:


Saint Martin’s University is a Catholic, Benedictine institution of higher education that empowers students to pursue a lifetime of learning and accomplishment in all arenas of human endeavor.


Saint Martin’s students learn to make a positive difference in their lives and in the lives of others through the interaction of faith, reason, and service.


The University honors both the sacredness of the individual and the significance of community in the ongoing journey of becoming.


This mission informs the vision of the Strategic Plan.

“We strive for holistic development, collaborative exchange and an integrated approach to teaching and learning as an exemplary Catholic, Benedictine university.”


Saint Martin’s University is an inclusive community of learners and thinkers, rooted in tradition and inspired toward progress. Informed by the Catholic intellectual tradition, Saint Martin’s University endeavors to unite academic rigor and excellence with moral thought and social responsibility: higher education that seeks to serve and promote the common good. Guided by our Benedictine values, Saint Martin’s embraces the ideal of balance: that education involves developing the whole person—the mind and body, heart and soul.


As Catholic and Benedictine, Saint Martin’s has an opportunity and an obligation to educate the next generation of leaders to be mindful citizens of the world, who can exhibit wisdom and compassion in thought and through action.

The vision is supported by our established core themes—faith, reason, service and community. From our last Strategic Plan, the Saint Martin’s community developed these core themes, which, individually and in tandem, support and manifest essential elements of our mission and collectively encompass our mission and vision.


In lead up to our 125th anniversary in 2020, Saint Martin's is reviewing and updating the definitions for each of the four core themes.



New definition adopted 2016:
In the Catholic and Benedictine tradition, faith in God, whether explicit or implicit, seeks understanding, guides the human person’s pursuit of truth, and grounds a person’s deepest and lifelong commitments. Other traditions, communities, and individuals use different languages to articulate their ultimate concerns or their conceptions of the holy. We acknowledge the importance, even the necessity, of engagement in respectful dialogue on the place of faith and reason in the education of the whole person. We do this at Saint Martin’s University through the academic curriculum, co-curricular experiences, the services and programs of campus ministry and the liturgical celebrations with the Benedictine community.


Old definition from 2010:
Faith is the commitment we have to the exploration of our beliefs. We acknowledge the fundamental necessity of the human confrontation with faith in all its aspects—religious, interpersonal, political, social, in all the commitments required in a life—as a critical element in the pursuit of truth.



New definition adopted 2017:
In the Catholic and Benedictine tradition, reason is understood to be a capacity with which God has uniquely gifted human beings to seek truth. Through exercising reason, we come to know our selves, the world, and God; our pursuits grow more searching and assured when animated by faith and embodied in community. The primary purpose of education is the cultivation of reason to inspire self-growth and lead students to recognize their responsibility to care for all of creation. We do this at Saint Martin’s University through the undergraduate core; majors, minors, and graduate and professional programs; and co-curricular experiences.


Old definition from 2010:
Reason means going beyond the mere production of useful-skilled and employable graduates. It aims at producing thoughtful, educated, independent thinkers capable of, and interested in, making a positive difference in the world they inhabit.



New definition adopted 2018:
In the Catholic and Benedictine tradition, community is the context within which everything takes place: prayer, work, and relationships. In community we recognize our interconnectedness and explore a deeper understanding of ourselves and humanity. Through an inclusive, equitable community, where all individuals are distinctive and all faiths, backgrounds, and talents are respected, we cultivate empathy and promote the exchange of ideas. This provides a valuable foundation for life, preparing students to serve the larger world community. We do this at Saint Martin’s by developing academic curriculum and co-curricular programming; actively recruiting and supporting a diverse body of students, faculty, and staff; and maintaining spaces to encourage dialog and self-reflection.


Old definition from 2010:
Community, a distinctive hallmark of the Benedictine philosophy, is the self-conscious regard for people's mutual inter-dependence and the way we demonstrate respect for all the roles in the human community.



New definition adopted 2019: 
In the Catholic and Benedictine tradition, service is the response to the moral obligation to build a more humane and just society. When we engage in service, we acknowledge the dignity of the human person in others; commit to listening deeply and learning in solidarity; and choose consciously to exist for something beyond ourselves. Informed by reason and driven by faith, we undertake service with hearts open to transformation as we encounter others and work together for peace, justice and the common good. We do this at Saint Martin’s by creating a culture of service and intentional reflection; incorporating service learning and leadership courses in academic curriculum and co-curricular programming; and providing opportunities for all to exercise social responsibility and civic engagement.


Old definition from 2010:
Service expresses essential elements of the Benedictine philosophy of hospitality. Saint Martin's nurtures the impulse to serve and aims to graduate men and women distinguished by their thoughtful commitment to help meet the needs of others.

The Saint Martin's Promise

Saint Martin’s University exists for the sake of our students, and student-centeredness is the heart of this plan. Inspired by our vision to be an exemplary Catholic, Benedictine university, we have identified the following imperatives that collectively form the Saint Martin’s Promise, a pledge between the University and our students that makes explicit our commitment to their intellectual, personal and spiritual development and a pledge by faculty and staff to support one another in the work of our mission. Together with our core themes of faith, reason, service and community, these imperatives will inform how the University community determines directions, initiates actions and makes decisions. 


To become an exemplary Catholic, Benedictine university, we must fulfill the following imperatives.


As we carry out on our imperatives, and the ideal learning environment articulated in our vision—holistic, collaborative and integrated, both inside and outside the classroom—comes to pass, every student will experience an education with the following shared learning outcomes and will be able to apply the knowledge and skills they learn through their chosen vocation in the world.

Through reflection, conversation and action we will actively realize our Catholic, Benedictine character, which unites faith and reason, service and community. Guided by this imperative, we will forge a common experience inside and outside the classroom that embodies the values we embrace; instills and supports a common mission; is intentionally transformative; and orients all who become part of our community—student, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the University.

Together, we will build academic programs that address the needs of today and tomorrow. We will support faculty scholarship and research by faculty and students. We will integrate the academic curriculum with co-curricular programs to promote experiential learning; develop programs for both undergraduate and graduate education; and integrate liberal learning with professional education and preparation. 

The Rule of Saint Benedict addresses life in community, recognizing that by learning how to live together, people become more fully themselves. By reaching out to others through community and service, we will support the educational mission of Saint Martin’s University. All are welcome as members of Saint Martin’s community: students, faculty, monks, staff, and administration as well as alumni, trustees, and friends of the University. We will create opportunities to share who we are and what we offer to a wider public; broaden our perspectives and impact; and foster local, global and intercultural exchange.


Saint Martin’s students, supported and nurtured by faculty and staff, will aspire to …

  • Develop the ability to raise vital questions, gather evidence while suspending judgment, and critique and construct compelling arguments. (Critical thinking skills)

  • Develop values-based convictions and act upon them. Show concern for issues that transcend their own interests and participate in civic life. (Social responsibility and civic engagement)

  • Cultivate a lifelong engagement in intellectual growth. (Lifelong learning)

  • Listen carefully and thoughtfully and express ideas effectively through writing and speech. (Communication skills)

  • Demonstrate an awareness of diverse perspectives in understanding issues and interacting with others as well as show an appreciation of diverse cultural values and the interconnectedness among cultures. (Global and intercultural competencies)

  • Assess critical needs of a situation and create a vision to address those needs. Motivate and inspire people to engage with that vision. (Leadership skills)

To enable our students’ goals, Saint Martin’s University will ...

  • Institute, embrace and model the above shared learning outcomes.

  • Commit to the success of our students, faculty and staff.

  • Develop integrated academic and co-curricular programs.

  • Encourage intercultural engagement.

  • Foster diversity in our community.

  • Identify and sustain collaborative partnerships and relationships.

  • Prepare students for professional and personal success in the immediate and long term.