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Introduction

Joseph A. Esposito

Since the Cardinal Newman Society was es- A Tool for Catholic Families
tablished in 1993, interested Catholics have
contacted the organization to discuss con- At first we believed that a comprehensive
cerns about the Catholic identity of specific guide to all Catholic colleges in the United
colleges. Often they bring to our attention States would be the best approach. We hired
professors, speakers, curriculum, events or researchers who combed through websites
other issues that are at variance with Catholic and published materials and conducted in-
teachings. Such input has and continues to be terviews. We sent a detailed questionnaire
very helpful to us, and we have been able to to all 224 Catholic colleges but received few
address and often help reverse practices that responses from the many colleges that were
are clearly inappropriate. well aware of our concerns about their prob-
At least as often, we also receive many in- lematic approach to Catholic education. We
quiries asking how we assess the fidelity of accumulated a large amount of information—
certain colleges. Generally, these are from some of it heartening, some fairly predictable
parents who want to know whether their son and, alas, much that was disturbing.
or daughter would be spiritually nourished at The more we looked at the data, the more
these institutions. we came to believe that publishing a guide
Sometimes the queries are very broad, to Catholic colleges in which a majority were
such as whether we can recommend, say, the neutral or conflicted in their Catholic identity
top ten U.S. Catholic colleges. There also are would be of little help to parents looking for
many instances when we are asked to rec- information on where to send their college-
ommend a solid Catholic college that has a bound son or daughter. Our goal is to help
good pre-med program, which colleges have with the challenge of the college search.
strong women’s athletic teams, or which offer In this first edition of The Newman Guide,
the most notable study-abroad semesters. we have identified 21 Catholic colleges—in-
More than two years ago, the inquiries cluding one in Ontario, Canada, which we
about how we might match students with felt compelled to include—where students
their needs and interests became so numer- can reasonably expect a faithful Catholic edu-
ous that we were convinced of the need for a cation and a campus culture that upholds the
guide to Catholic colleges. You hold the final values taught in their homes and parishes. No
result in your hands. such guide has ever been published, and the
Cardinal Newman Society is uniquely quali-
fied to provide the information and analysis
entirely absent from typical college rankings
and guides.

The Newman Guide 13


Introduction

What we provide, then, is invaluable infor-  They give a priority to their Catholic iden-
mation to supplement the traditional guides tity and actively practice it in most, if not
and promotional materials that are also an all, aspects of campus life;
essential part of the college search process.
 They are generally assiduous in ensuring
Each profile in The Newman Guide highlights
that critics of Catholic Church teaching are
the college’s mission, governance, spiritual
not given a platform for their work;
life, curriculum, residential life and extracur-
ricular programs. We provide information  They are committed to providing a quality
that we consider to be most useful in making education for their students; and
a college selection—assuming that Catholic
 Any deficiencies are more than outweighed
identity is an important criterion.
by success in other areas.
We have tried to provide primarily objec-
The result is a listing of 20 Catholic colleg-
tive information in order to offer a compre-
es in the United States and one in Canada. We
hensive aid to parents and students. While
are impressed by all of these included here.
our focus is on Catholic identity, we also
Could others have been added? Perhaps. In
discuss issues that are of use to any student,
a few instances, we encountered school of-
such as notable academic programs, sports
ficials who were reluctant to cooperate and
opportunities and even characteristics of the
prevented us from doing the in-depth study
surrounding town.
to determine whether they belonged in this
group.
How We Selected Colleges We hope to add additional colleges in the
next edition, including those that are work-
No college is perfect, and no college is right ing to enhance their Catholic identity. We
for everyone. There are wide variations, even look forward to helping facilitate dialogue
among some of the most orthodox Catholic between the colleges in this Guide and those
institutions. Some emphasize a Great Books that seek to emulate them.
curriculum, while others are more career-
The colleges included in the following
oriented. Some have a tiny enrollment, while
pages are grouped into three categories and
others are good-sized universities. Some are
an epilogue. The first, “Joyfully Catholic,” are
located in remote rural areas, and others in
those that we find to be the most thoroughly
large cities.
orthodox institutions, those whose Catholic
And all, despite their Catholic identity, are identity informs most of what they do as an
impacted to a greater or lesser extent by the institution and how they present their pro-
surrounding culture; there is no substitute for grams to prospective students and donors.
proper formation before entering college and They are not necessarily “more Catholic”
a student’s ability to choose the best courses, than the other institutions, but their commit-
professors, friends and activities. ment to fidelity above all else ensures that
secularizing influences are not likely to have
The criteria for selection reflect an art, not
much impact here.
a science. We do not give points to individual
colleges, nor have we attempted to weight cer- The second group is an intriguing one,
tain characteristics. The colleges included are those “Born from the Crisis” in Catholic high-
characterized by the following: er education. These are new colleges, some of
which are just getting underway, most seek-

14 The Newman Guide


Joseph A. Esposito

ing to occupy a particular niche. Although Helping You Get Started


they are evolving and some still working on
accreditation, they offer great potential and To help place the college selection process in
are clearly worth considering. All of these the proper context, we have included essays
suggest a commitment to Catholic identity from several prominent Catholics who are
that rivals that of the “Joyfully Catholic” col- knowledgeable about Catholic higher educa-
leges. tion. We start with a forward from renowned
One-third of the colleges are in a category Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R., and a letter
that we have designated “Fighting the Tide.” to students from Archbishop Elden Curtiss of
They are well-established institutions that the Archdiocese of Omaha.
have weathered the vicissitudes of the times The founder and president of the Cardinal
and continue to provide a good Catholic edu- Newman Society, Patrick Reilly, contributed
cation—some of them reversing past trends in an essay on the status of Catholic higher edu-
a sincere effort to comply with Ex corde Eccle- cation. We also are fortunate to have an essay
siae, the document on Catholic higher educa- on the essentials of a Catholic college educa-
tion issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990. In tion by the well-known evangelist Father C.
most cases, they are working to bolster their John McCloskey III, an Opus Dei priest.
Catholic identity.
The prolific writer and philosopher Dr.
Finally, we discuss the University of Notre Peter Kreeft of Boston College has written a
Dame in an epilogue. In our opinion, it would thoughtful article about why philosophy and
be difficult to produce such a guide without theology are important to all students. Eileen
addressing what is perhaps the most widely Cubanski, founder and executive director of
recognized Catholic university in the United the National Association of Private Catholic
States. Notre Dame is an excellent academic and Independent Schools, wrote the last es-
institution that offers a vibrant spiritual life say, which discusses the value of a Catholic
to students and includes many of the best education.
Catholic minds in several disciplines.
We conclude our first section with answers
But we believe it has suffered from vari- to some key questions of interest to college-
ous missteps from its top officials that give us searching students and their families.
deep concern. Notre Dame’s leaders need to
resolve a decades-long struggle to reconcile We hope that after you have read these
ambitions toward become a leading national essays framing the issue of how to select a
research university—with all of the pressures Catholic college, you will consider the oppor-
from external stakeholders and secular aca- tunities presented by each of the institutions
deme that accompany that role—and Notre described in the following pages. Don’t for-
Dame’s Catholic mission. get to look at the material at the end, which
also provides comparative insights into this
So we offer a candid and detailed assess- group.
ment of Notre Dame’s notable strengths and
disappointing weaknesses as a Catholic insti- The Newman Guide, in our opinion, is a
tution. starting point. After you identify colleges
which most interest you and your family, we
suggest that you study their websites, visit
their campuses and ask all the specific ques-

The Newman Guide 15


Introduction

tions that will help you make an informed


college selection decision.
Choosing a college is a major decision and
encompasses many different issues. Our goal
in producing this guide has been to create a
resource that will help point you toward to
solidly Catholic institutions. In this effort, we
have taken inspiration from the great work of
the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman
and Pope John Paul II. We hope that you will
find it in that spirit.

16 The Newman Guide