Jesuit Ryscavage to Lead Study of Education for Undocumented Students at Jesuit Universities


Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life has been awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to study the education of undocumented students at Jesuit universities. Fairfield University will lead the project, collaborating with Santa Clara University and Loyola University Chicago.

Jesuit Father Rick Ryscavage,  professor of sociology and director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield and a former national director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, who will serve as director of the project, said, “there is very little hard data about the situation of undocumented students in American universities. This grant will allow us to make a major contribution to the national understanding of the problem.”

Under the grant, a research study will seek to survey and understand the social context and current practices and attitudes in American Jesuit schools of higher education regarding undocumented students.

The study will consider:

  • Structures that support or challenge the higher education of undocumented students
  • Best practices and strategies for ensuring their eventual success
  • A potential collaborative model for helping students as they move through their university years
  • Issues facing students after graduation

Leading the research team, consisting of law and social science faculty from all three institutions, will be Dr. Kurt Schlichting, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Fairfield.

The project is designed to stimulate a sustained dialogue with the 28 Jesuit schools of higher education in the United States by asking two questions:

  1. What are the current practices among our schools?
  2. What challenges do we face in trying to serve these students?

A final policy paper, highlighting the results of the study, will include a moral argument, anchored in Catholic social teaching, for better meeting the needs of undocumented students.

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