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Bob Pyne
Bob Pyne at work with student intern Michelle VeNard ’10 on developing programming.

Building on a mission for peace and justice

Working toward a world dedicated to peace, justice and human dignity is a big task. Yet Bob Pyne sounds upbeat and confident in his new role as director of the St. Norbert College Peace and Justice Center.

“I haven’t found anybody who’s said: ‘I’m really not for peace. I’m really not for justice,’” says Pyne, who succeeded Sr. Sally Ann Brickner, O.S.F., ’67. (Brickner stepped down in May to assume the post of first vice president of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross.) “I don’t have anybody who doesn’t want to be a part of it,” Pyne says of students, faculty and staff.

Web extra
Pyne's son is also newly employed at the college. Read a profile of Steve, who has Down syndrome, from the St. Norbert Times. >>MORE
“I have co-laborers left and right all around here who together want to strive for the common good,” Pyne says. “They see that as part of their vocation and as reflecting the Catholic tradition and the Norbertine heritage of the school.”

Pyne, a native of Phoenix and a graduate of Arizona State University, earned master’s and doctorate degrees in theology from Dallas Seminary, where he taught for 17 years. More recently, he served two years as director of leadership development for ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries).

ALARM, which operates in eight countries with a primarily African staff, opened Pyne to a greater sense of responsibility for our far neighbor and what peace-building looks like, he says. The St. Norbert opening then served as the “perfect storm,” bringing with it “the opportunity to champion human dignity and promote peace-building in the context of a liberal arts college that has the mission of peace-building as part of its Norbertine heritage.”

Unlike the seminary, where all the students were training for the ministry, St. Norbert offers diversity in students, academic disciplines and belief systems, Pyne says. “I really like the sense of common ground with regard to human dignity and the common good. I really like the broader tent of the ecumenical environment theologically, but also the inclusive environment, so that while we are a Catholic institution, we’re absolutely welcoming for people of all faiths or people who don’t consider themselves to be of any faith.”

At a liberal arts college, Pyne adds, he can draw on all disciplines to develop multifaceted top-down and bottom-up approaches more likely to withstand changes in government.

So far, Pyne says, the major challenge has not been lack of ideas, but deciding which ideas best promote peace and justice. To take environmental justice as one example, Earth Week and recycling are not just about giving people information: “You have to cultivate in them a commitment to change. So awareness is one step. Compassion is a step. Ultimately we’re seeking to produce, in ourselves and in our students, a commitment to the common good that changes behavior. And that’s not just in others. That’s something we seek for ourselves.”

Spring 2010 magazine

Web extraLook here for web-only content that expands on topics presented in the current St. Norbert College Magazine (PDF).

Text Extra Too 'Old School’ for our own good?
President Tom Kunkel challenges colleges and universities to embrace new ways of delivering higher education.

Text Extra A new face in the cafe
Steve Pyne (Dining Services), who has Down syndrome, was profiled in this recent article in the student newspaper, the St. Norbert Times.

Audio La Perichole
St. Norbert College Magazine dropped in on a rehearsal for this three-act operetta production, to be staged on campus.

Video More than a photo
A gallery of images from a trip that connected a child in Kenya with his sponsors in the United States.

Text Extra A father’s love
Jeff Kratz ’92 offers a unique perspective on a father’s love.

Audio Words from life
The poetry of Ken Zahorski (English, Emeritus) deals with fathers and sons, phases of life and familiar figures remembered across the years.

Video World view
Gratzia Villarroel (Political Science) speaks with Dean Michael Marsden on international issues and educational opportunities.

Audio Man of property
Joe Jones ’12 sits down with Mike Dauplaise ’84 to discuss an education in entrepreneurism and the launch of Jones’ third business. He is 21 years old.

Text Extra Dick Bennett on Gary Grzesk
The basketball legend remembers his years presiding over the storied defensive career of Grzesk, current coach to the Green Knight men.

Story ideas? Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.

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