Tucked away in St. Mary’s Student Center, the Moreau Center is the University of Portland’s arm reaching out to the Portland community. Hosting a myriad of community service events and immersion programs, the Moreau Center embodies the Catholic ideals of service and growth. The image of UP — an institution dedicated to cultivating people “who better the world” — is demonstrated at the Moreau Center.
Short staffing has impacted the Moreau Center since this last fall, and staff and student workers have had to navigate through a variety of challenges. Despite this labor shortage, the majority of programs and experiences hosted by the center will continue on as planned.
In order for UP to uphold its promises in hands-on service, Tyler Wagner has been appointed as the interim director of the Moreau Center, alongside his role as program manager for immersions, in the fall of 2022.
His duties consist of supporting the various programming that student workers put on and assists with the hiring process for future Moreau Center staff. The new responsibilities have not come without their respective challenges.
“Just sort of working to manage other programs that I definitely had a lot less connection with … as well as navigating some of the different important pieces of the director role [have impacted my role],” Wagner said.
Even with these new responsibilities, he has been met with an abundance of support from colleagues and student workers alike.
“Tyler is one of the core figures at the Moreau Center,” Diana Campos-Hilario, a graduating senior and rural immersion coordinator, said. “He was our light when we were completely lost and didn’t know what to do.”
Yet Tyler is still only one person doing the job of many. The busyness of his schedule has led to student workers happily assisting him wherever they can. Sydney Chou, the service and justice coordinator for Corrado Hall, explained how her role has changed throughout the year.
“The service and justice coordinators have weekly group meetings and [have] been facilitating our own meetings, just trying to help out in the Moreau Center,” Chou said.
Sophie Charles, the previous program manager for the service and justice coordinators, would hold check-in meetings every other week. With Wagner’s current workload, those check-ins have been reduced to once every three or four weeks. The student workers have become more independent throughout the fog of the labor shortage.
William Heyler, a senior campus volunteer coordinator for Roosevelt High School, explained that this extra independence comes with extra compensation for his role due to the increase in workload.
“CVCs are paid hourly, everyone else is paid a stipend,” Heyler said. “So we are paid extra because we’re putting in extra hours … which is fine, because I love doing the job.”
Wagner and the student workers have remained committed to continuing regularly scheduled programming and events throughout the staff shortage, with only one exception.
“The one program we need to put on pause for the summer is our interns for justice program,” Wagner said. “But as we anticipate getting back to full staff capacity, I would say it’s a pause and not an ending of the program.”
With the enduring strength of the Moreau Center being displayed, student workers share why the center holds such a special place within the UP community.
“The Moreau Center is a place that you can experience service, you can experience giving back [and] you can experience networking and community that this campus is built upon,” Heyler said. “It’s something that is beneficial beyond what you can imagine.”
Growth of the entire person is an essential aspect of the Holy Cross mission. Israel Osorio, the social justice coordinator for Christie Hall, sees the Moreau Center as the perfect vehicle for progress.
“We’re not just a university, we’re a university in the city of Portland,” Osorio said. “The Moreau Center definitely tries to connect with the city of Portland [and] with the people that are all around us.”
Throughout the stress of a new role, Wagner has stayed committed to the community he serves and the students he works with.
“Just being able to be a part of that formation with students … and especially of that connection to the service and justice in the community [is what] I most appreciate and that gets me excited to do this job,” Wagner said.
As the University of Portland continues to become more intertwined with the city it finds itself in, one thing is clear. The Moreau Center will carry on with demonstrating the Holy Cross ideal of the cultivation of the heart and shine the light of service throughout the community.
Noah Carandanis is a news reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org