Sept. 21, 2006 • Volume 15 Number 2

Project on BC Catholic Tradition Begins in October

By Sean Smith
Chronicle Editor

Boston College's heritage, and future, as a Jesuit, Catholic university is at the center of a three-year project beginning this fall.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) initiative will be launched with a pair of luncheon discussions on Oct. 3 and 4 in the Heights Room of Corcoran Commons.

Organizers stress the importance of faculty participation in a project that will explore how BC's programs and activities reflect its Jesuit, Catholic character, and detail the opportunities - and obstacles - for strengthening it.

In a recent invitation to academic departments, Provost and Dean of Faculties Bert Garza - who had announced the project at University Convocation earlier this month - said the idea for examining the CIT grew out of conversations with faculty following his arrival at BC last year.

"Among the most salient concerns I encountered in discussions...was the impact of the Jesuit and Catholic dimensions of Boston College's mission on a wide range of university values and actions," said Garza, who added that a group of faculty had approached him with the idea of discussing the CIT.

This undertaking would "enable us to explore opportunities the CIT may or should provide," he said, and "support a faculty dialogue about the origins, nature and future responses to concerns that surround our institution's Catholic distinctiveness."

In addition, said Garza, the project can provide a critical context as the University implements its seven major strategic directions outlined by President William P. Leahy, SJ, which include an emphasis on liberal arts education and student formation and an effort to cast BC as an intellectual and cultural crossroads, and a leading Catholic university and theological center.

The CIT initiative also can "contribute to the growing conversation of the domestic and international roles of secular and Catholic universities in higher education and civil society."

In urging faculty to take a role in this project, Garza said that an effective conversation on the CIT will need not only the participation of Jesuits and Catholics, but "the wisdom and experience of other rich traditions."

"Clearly we share various subsets of identities," Garza said, "but the two we all have in common are membership in the professoriate and a university that cherishes its Jesuit and Catholic heritage."

Project planning committee co-chairs Prof. James Keenan, SJ (Theology), and Asst. Prof. Gregory Kalscheur, SJ (Law), said the discussions will continue on Oct. 31, with a presentation on the CIT and Boston College by Assoc. Prof. Stephen Schloesser, SJ (History), and responses by professors Ali Banuzzizi (Psychology) and Ray Madoff (Law). Plans are being developed for a series of events in the spring featuring scholars "whose work engages the CIT from a variety of perspectives."

In addition, the Jesuit Institute and Intersections Program have been invited to develop future seminars that "will allow faculty to dig deeper into the CIT and the ways in which it does or might enrich their scholarly lives."

"We hope that the October conversations will provide a stimulating opening to an on-going series of events involving faculty from across the University," said Fr. Kalscheur.

Added Fr. Keenan, "It's also our hope that this range of programming will prompt conversations in each of BC's schools and departments that will allow faculty in all the disciplines to explore the role that engagement with the CIT can play in our academic culture."

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