Recently in Catholic Higher Education Category

Fr Michael Scanlan.jpg

After 11 years as chancellor and 26 years as president, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, announced today that he'll be retiring from Franciscan University. Scanlan is to move to the TOR motherhouse in Loretto, PA. The retirement is effective June 30, 2011.

More can be read here, included is a brief biography.

May Saint Francis of Assisi reward Father Michael abundantly for helping to rebuild the Church.
The Archdiocese of Boston, under the direction of His Eminence, Seán Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Cap., issued a new educational policy for its schools which includes a non-discrimination policy and reiterates that Catholic teaching will be taught in the curricula. There's an openness to the real life situations people face and live each day but there is no compromise in the passing on the Truth to others: care for the whole person and concern for the eternal destiny of souls.

The Catholic University of Lueven, founded in 1425 by Pope Martin V is said to be entering into a process to re-consider their Catholic identity, even to the point of removing the adjective "Catholic" from their title, a news item on the Cardinal Newman Society's webpage said, reporting a Brussels-based news article on October 7.

The university's rector Mark Waer, 59, a trained physican and medical researcher in nephrology and immunology, has reportedly said, "The Catholic message is not appropriate for the university..." after the criticism from Catholics about the granting of the Nobel Prize to the instigator of IVF technology. Waer only began his term as rector of the university in 2009.

The University's mission statement can be read here.

UK's The Tablet ran a news piece today saying the seminary for the North of England dioceses, Ushaw College, is closing at the end of the school year in June 2011. Currently, 7 English dioceses are served by UC. Ushaw was first founded in Douai, France in 1568 and has been located four miles west of Durham City since 1808.

From its heyday of 400 men studying for the priesthood to 26 today, the Ushaw has a staff of 62.

The story of Ushaw is grim and it sounds like St Joseph's Seminary (Dunwoodie) which has fewer than 25 seminarians for the secular priesthood. For the time being SJS is working alone and is slated to merge with Huntington's seminary.

The Catholic school system in the US has been in a very desperate shape for years: acute and chronic money problems, lack of good, solidly trained Catholic teachers and administrators, a coherent vision of Catholic education as it interfaces with the charism of the religious order/diocese operating the school, building & grounds in near of repair, low endowments, etc. Then there is the assessment of what is purported to constitute a Catholic school: poor formation in the faith, the arts & humanites and science suffer, good use of current technologies, and engagement with people who do things differently, engagement with the vulnerable and culture of life, etc. Many, many Catholic schools don't offer the Sacrifice of the Mass on a weekly basis for the students; and very few of them that I am familiar with offer reliable guidance and formation of the faculty and parents. In my book, if the bishop rarely shows up and the pastor visits the school only when there is crisis. then the problem is more acute.

Don't get me wrong: I am a product of a lot years Catholic education and wouldn't trade it for anything. I love my time in the Catholic schools I attended but I can see the gaping holes in education and experience. I also believe that the Church needs excellent schools and formation programs.

Five exceptions to this critical view may be the five schools in the Diocese of Bridgeport recently named "Blue Ribbon" by the US Dept of Ed. But for these success stories in Catholic Education there are thousands of others pointing to major problems.

Today, there is an article in Time that speaks to a corrective of what is noted above. The dynamic Mr. Ekicsen is asking the right questions and seeking reasonable solutions. The bishop of Patterson made an excellent choice in hiring Eriksen and I pray his project thrives. It will --the saints are behind him. Read about the Eriksen initiative...

I think of a few things that are contributing to a renewal of Catholic eduation in the US: 1) Luigi Giussani's The Risk of Education; 2) the Ed Conference; 3) UND's ACE program; and 4) Dwight Longenecker's booklet The Risk of Faith; 5) Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of reality because I know there are plenty of more good programs/schools out there so please forward the names to me.

Fr J Fesio.jpgAs it's reported in a few places, Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, the well-known and gifted teacher and leader was fired by Ave Maria University. The matter of his dismissal revolves around all things, financial matters of the university. Something mentioned here before. So, one must ask if the university is going to be able to make it in the long haul or is the pizza man's dream over. All are called upon to pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance for Father Fessio and, of course, for Ave Maria who once again makes an imprudent decision just because someone disagrees with their philosophy. Sounds like the roundheads are at it again. Read the news article on this event. Father Fessio's email follows:

This morning, (Monday, July 20th) Dr. Jack Sites, Academic Vice President of Ave Maria University, flew from Houston, where he was attending a meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, to San Francisco, to inform me personally that I was being dismissed from Ave Maria University. Our meeting was amicable and Dr. Sites, as always, acted as a Christian gentleman.

He said that the reason for my dismissal stemmed from a conversation I had in November of 2008 with Jack Donahue, then chairman of the board of AMU. At that time I felt it an obligation to speak to the board chairman before the upcoming board meeting, to make sure he was aware of the urgency of the university's financial situation. After I had informed him, using projections based on publicly available documents and statements, he asked me what I thought was the solution. I told him that there were policies being followed that were at the root of the problem, that the present administration was irrevocably wedded to those policies, and that without a change of administration the university was at great risk.

Dr. Sites said that Jack Donahue related this conversation to Tom Monaghan, and it was decided (I don't know specifically by whom) that the university could not have a faculty member making these criticisms of the administration and thus undermining the university.

Dr. Sites told me that there were unspecified others who had similar substantive concerns that I was undermining the university.

I continue to support the university. I pray for its success. I have great admiration for the faculty, students, and many of the staff. I do disagree with some of the policies of the administration. This seems to be the reason I was fired the first time, in March 2007, since the official explanation was "irreconcilable administrative differences".

Nevertheless, I think it is an accurate summary to say that I am being dismissed as a faculty member because of a private conversation with the chairman of the board in which I made known my criticisms of the university administration; and because of allegations which have not been made known to me and to which I have not been given an opportunity to respond.

I will continue to recommend AMU to students and parents. And I will continue to think my dismissal is another mistake in a long series of unwise decisions.
Yet another example of Catholic higher ed making foolish distinctions in order to justify their morally wrong actions and doing an end-run around the face of Christ and His Church. It is not merely as one headline reads: contempt for the bishops BUT contempt for Christ!

Fordham honors pro-choice secular leaders. Read for your self here and here.

Is Fordham really Catholic AND Jesuit? What is Archbishop Dolan going to do about this matter? Will the Jesuits sit back and capitulate to secular mediocrity?

It wasn't too long ago that Fordham Law honored an abortion-approving Supreme Court Justice.

Tonight's TV news on NBC drew the world's attention to the fact that Mary Ann Glendon declined Notre Dame's famous Laetare Medal that is given at the commencement exercises in May. By the way, 2009 marks the 126th year of the award. The medal honors the distinguished work of Catholics; once reserved for the laity now also given to the clergy and religious. These events have me thinking about the meaning of these events surrounding the craziness of inviting the US president who stands contrary to Catholic faith and Professor Glendon who is a faithful Catholic to be on the same stage.

It seems to me that when you pan the comments of academics at Catholic colleges and university what you don't see is rhetoric about Christ, faith as a way of knowing, truth, the objectivity of the Church, the intersection of faith and reason, etc.  What you will find are comments like: "We don't see a conflict with our Catholic identity if we have a speaker on campus who may have views that are in conflict with Catholic teachings. We consider the contributions the speaker has made to society as a whole, and that doesn't necessarily mean we endorse all of their positions or views. We're committed to a Jesuit tradition, which doesn't suppress educational issues and intellectual debate," said Kristine Maloney, a spokeswoman for the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. But Ms. Maloney fails to understand that this type of forum gives credence of equality to contrary views to Catholic faith. Obama's speech is a monologue not a dialogue.

Or, let's take the president of Trinity Washington University's Patricia McGuire who reminds us that Catholics have long struggled to get a place of respectability in the market place of ideas and that to blindly follow the bishops would simply be parochial.  In her estimation, "The diminishment of the idea of the university by [some critics] betrays two centuries of intellectual advancement and real leadership by Catholic higher education in this nation." Really, I don't think it is narrow-minded to stand with the Church I profess to believe in and follow unto my salvation in Christ.

Let's just take the Jesuit college's perspective since there are far more people memorized by the so-called Jesuit tradition realizing neither the history nor the aim of Jesuit, Catholic education. Let's remember what many faculty members said at the last search for a Holy Cross College president: we don't want a lay person as president because he or she might make the College too Catholic; a Jesuit is freer to allow us to think and act the way we want. Hence, what you see embedded in Ms. Maloney's remarks about the Jesuit intellectual life of the university is true now but historically that same Jesuit intellectual tradition followed Christ unconditionally because it was rooted in the Spiritual Exercises. In fact, contemporary Jesuit apostolates are said to exist "To follow Christ bearing his Cross means announcing his Gospel of hope...." Jesuit institutions stood for faithfulness to the Gospel, to Church teaching and the dignity of the human person. The Jesuit educational apostolate explored the limits of faith and reason but always came back to faith as the mother of virtue and true knowledge. In a former time there was not a capitulation to secular values that divorces Christ from reality, that removes the Church from the public square or merely wants to fit-in at all costs.

I fail to see why fitting-in is a value for academics at Catholic institutions: theirs is a quest for the reasonableness of Truth. Being like the professors in secular universities in my estimation is a failed enterprise and one that has lead away from Jesus Christ as Savior and reality. True to the Ignatian heritage of Jesuit educational institutions it would be good if Holy Cross College and 27 other Jesuit colleges and universities did the Examen according to the mind Saint Ignatius of Loyola asking the Lord for the grace of conversion while attempting to live in "that harmony with the Magisterium which avoids causing confusion and dismay among the People of God" (Benedict XVI to the Jesuits, 2008)

Many US Catholics seem comfortable with beige Catholicism and a theology based on sentiment. There is no arguing otherwise given Notre Dame's honoring of President Obama and now the growing list of "Catholic" institutions of higher learning caving to political pressure and respectability with no significant outcry from the bulk of 60 million Catholics in the US. When encountering Saint Peter at the heavenly gates I hope the academics don't get offended if Saint Peter has a different view on what it means to be a Catholic and to labor at a Catholic higher educational institution. Let's be clear: Christ didn't come to found a Catholic university--He came to bring us to the Father with the distinct claim that He, Christ, is the way, the truth, and the life. Anything short of that is nonsense.

In world where clarity of Catholic faith is "normal" Catholic education would not afraid of differing theological or philosophical positions, especially those that may run contrary to orthodox Catholic teachings; in fact, a Catholic ought to be respectful of what others have to say, always proposing the Gospel and the Church teaching as true and a place of encounter with Christ.  Having said this, a platform at a Catholic institution needs to sensitively, yet firmly follow Christ and the teachings of His Church. Clearly, playing footsy with positions contrary to the Church cannot not be presented as equally valid to what the Church holds or teaches!

Let's not grow faint of heart by following Christ and keeping in mind the motto of the Laetare Medal: Magna est veritas et prevalebit (Truth is mighty, and it will prevail).

Mary Ann Glendon has declined the Laetare Medal given by the University of Notre Dame.

I believe this is the type of witness to Jesus Christ we hunger for from the depths of our heart.

Read her letter to Father Jenkins here.

Abp Demetrios.jpgThe President of Fordham University, Fr. Joseph M. McShane, S.J. announced Tuesday Feb. 17, a Jaharis Family Foundation gift establishing the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture as part of the Orthodox Christian Studies Program of this renowned Roman-Catholic Jesuit University.


The announcement came at the conclusion of the Sixth Annual Orthodoxy in America Lecture given this year by Fr. Stanley Harakas, ThD, who is the Archbishop Iakovos Professor of Orthodox Theology Emeritus at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Fr. Harakas' topic "The Future of Orthodox Christianity in America: A Normative Approach" captivated his diverse audience of academics, clergymen, students and laymen. He outlined the threats and pitfalls but also the opportunities of the social and cultural reality in America and suggested ways of what we need to do and ought to do, as Orthodox.


Following the lecture President McShane announced the establishment of the Archbishop Demetrios Chair in Orthodox Theology and Culture through a generous donation of two million dollars by the Jaharis Family Foundation. Fr. McShane welcomed Michael and Mary Jaharis as he expressed his great joy and gratitude. He further said that naming the chair after Archbishop Demetrios is a most deserving honor and that the University was "thrilled that his name (the Archbishop's) and the name of the Jaharis family will forever be associated with Fordham."


A new independent report on college costs published by The Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education--the research division of The Cardinal Newman Society--reveals that some of the most faithful Catholic colleges and universities in the United States also offer students significant cost savings.

Among the study's key findings:

· Average tuition for students at the recommended faithful Catholic colleges is about $3,000 less than at other Catholic colleges and about $1,000 less than the average private college.

· The Newman Guide colleges provide students a larger portion of institutional aid (39%) than the average private college (29%).

· Students at the recommended Catholic colleges graduate with fewer loans and less debt--on average, about $2,000 less than at private colleges and $1,400 less than other Catholic colleges.

The study was conducted by Andrew Gillen, Ph.D., a leading expert on college affordability issues and the research director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. The study is available online at

In order to help families learn more about the Newman Guide's recommended faithful and affordable colleges, beginning today their campus profiles are available online for the first time at

The recommended Newman Guide colleges are Ave Maria University, Aquinas College (Tenn.), Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Christendom College, The College of Saint Thomas More (Texas), DeSales University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Holy Apostles College & Seminary, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Magdalen College, Mount St. Mary's University, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, St. Gregory's University, Southern Catholic College, Thomas Aquinas College, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (N.H.), University of Dallas, University of St. Thomas (Texas), and Wyoming Catholic College.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]



Humanities Blog Directory

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Catholic Higher Education category.

Carmelites is the previous category.

Catholic Laity is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.