New Website Helps Students Find Authentic Catholic Education at Univ. of Notre Dame
November 10, 2015 | By Justin Petrisek | Cardinal Newman Society
In response to numerous concerns from students and parents over the years about the quality of Catholic education at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame history professor Father Bill Miscamble, C.S.C., launched a new project this week, NDCatholic.com , that he told The Cardinal Newman Society will help students find professors supportive of the University’s Catholic mission and an authentic Catholic education.
“I want to encourage serious Catholic students to attend Notre Dame. But they should come here with a clear-headed recognition that they must be very intentional in choosing their teachers and courses,” Fr. Miscamble said. “If they do so, they will find an education that allows them to face deep questions of meaning and serves to deepen and enrich their Catholic faith.”
The website, which is in its beginning stages, features profiles of approximately 100 faculty in the College of Arts and Letters personally recommended by Fr. Miscamble for their supportof the University’s Catholic mission. Fr. Miscamble hopes to expand the website soon to include the faculty from the other colleges including business, science, engineering and architecture.
“I realized that there were somany excellent faculty here but that students needed some guidance in finding them and selecting the right courses to take,” said Fr. Miscamble, who was inspired by the many students and parents who have requested personal recommendations over the years. “NDCatholic is the result of my desire to assist students.”
Each NDCatholic faculty profile includes the professor’s areas of research, teaching style and a brief description of their contribution to the University and its Catholic identity.
“Knowledgeable observers are aware that the University of Notre Dame can provide an excellent Catholic education for her students. But it certainly is not guaranteed. Students who simply drift through Notre Dame with its present core curriculum are unlikely to gain the full benefits that the University can offer,” Fr. Miscamble stated on the website. “Consequently, students must take the initiative in order to receive a genuine and rich Catholic education.”
Fr. Miscamble did note that not all of the faculty recommended are themselves practicing Catholics, nor do they fully endorse Catholic doctrine and teaching. “I have sought to clarify where this is the case,” he told the Newman Society, “and have outlined why students might still benefit from study under these professors. Of course there are a good number of true Catholic intellectuals also listed on the site.”
“It is a question of balance, and unhappily the necessary balance in favor of Catholic faculty has been lost over the years at Notre Dame in its drive for secular acclaim,” stated the Sycamore Trust, an alumni group dedicated to preserving Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, in its announcement of the website.
“The faculty no longer comes close to meeting the University’s own Mission Statement test of Catholic identity: a majority of committed Catholics on the faculty. Perhaps 25 percent to 30 percent of the faculty may fit this description,” the Sycamore Trust stated, noting the urgent need for Fr. Miscamble’s project.
In addition to the list of supportive faculty, Fr. Miscamble provides a list of excellent student groups, his rationale for the website, suggested reading on issues in Catholic higher education and an analysis of the importance of Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Church’s constitution on Catholic higher education.
“Ex corde Ecclesiae must be the essential charter for every authentic Catholic university in all aspects,” Fr. Miscamble told the Newman Society. “Without attending to its central provisions, Catholic universities will ignore those essential questions, namely: what is taught and who teaches it.”
“I can only hope and pray that Notre Dame deepens its commitment to Ex corde Ecclesiae in the coming years,” he said.
Fr. Miscamble also hopes that, especially for those students and parents concerned with the state of Catholic identity at the University, NDCatholic will be a source for reassurance in seeking out genuine Catholic education.
“For a Catholic institution to live up fully to its promise, it must have devoted teachers and scholars who aim to stir in their students a hunger for the truth,” he stated. “In short, I hope NDCatholic will serve to provide information to students at Notre Dame to help them obtain an excellent Catholic education here.”