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Roundtable on Catholic Higher Ed Debuts Journal

11/13/13
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By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Nov. 13, 2013

The Boston College Roundtable: Advancing the Mission of Catholic Higher Education marked its second semester with the inaugural publication of its journal and the second meeting of its members, who discuss the mission of American Catholic higher education through the lens of their academic disciplines.

An initiative of University Mission and Ministry, the Boston College Roundtable seeks to advance the conversation about mission, identity, and the Catholic intellectual tradition and to discern the value of a faith-based education in a contemporary context. The Roundtable comprises a group of scholars from a broad range of academic disciplines representing 11 Catholic colleges and universities.

This month, the Boston College Roundtable published the first issue of Integritas, a journal of the official roundtable proceedings. Integritas presents the invited papers along with the formal responses and a summary of the roundtable conversations. The first volume covers the spring 2013 roundtable’s theme of charism and hospitality.

“The presenters were asked to explore the theme through the lens of their own discipline and experience in the academy,” said University Mission and Ministry Assistant Director of Faculty Outreach and Program Assessment Tim Muldoon, who serves as Integritas’ editor.

The three papers, he said, along with the responses and dialogue, “invite reflection on the ways that different campus communities strike a balance between fidelity to their Catholic tradition, on the one hand, and openness to the many who represent increasingly diverse other faith traditions, on the other.”

The contents of Integritas include, for example, University Professor of English Paul Mariani’s essay on “Charism and the Literary Imagination” and Professor of Biology Marc Muskavitch’s response to a presentation by Providence College Associate Professor of Theology Aurelie Hagstrom.

Integritas — viewable at www.bc.edu/integritas — is being distributed to the presidents, provosts and mission officers at every US Catholic college and university, as well as to groups such as the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Catholic Education. 

“The hope is that this journal becomes a staple for conversations throughout Catholic institutions of learning,” said Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Jack Butler, SJ. “The goal is for these essays to work their way into broader conversations at different levels within our respective institutions and all Catholic colleges and universities, among deans and faculty, senior administrators, and mission officers.

“The Roundtable provides a new model for conversation, and the essays — individually or collectively — will provide a springboard for further conversations and broader engagement.”

During the first weekend of November, the Boston College Roundtable gathered at the Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center in Dover for its second series of presentations, focused on the theme of “The Transcendent Value of the Liberal Arts.”

The presenters at the second roundtable meeting were: College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean David Quigley; Thomas G. Plante, Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ, University Professor at Santa Clara University, and University of Dayton Religious Studies Lecturer Marian Díaz.

Respondents were: Kevin Hughes, Villanova University associate professor of theology and religious studies and chair of the Humanities and Classical Studies Program; William C. Mattison III, Catholic University of America associate professor of moral theology, and John Cunningham, SJ, Loyola University of Chicago associate professor of physics.

“The Roundtable is about faculty engaging in the mission of Catholic universities through the lens of their respective disciplines,” said Lisa Hastings, interim director of Mission and Ministry’s Office of Faculty Outreach and Program Assessment, which organizes the Boston College Roundtable. “At the gathering earlier this month, the collective components of each session — the papers, responses and discussions — made for very rich conversations. Our members and the observers were all very engaged.”

The Boston College Roundtable originated from conversations between Fr. Butler and University President William P. Leahy, SJ. Woods College of Advancing Studies Interim Dean Rev. James Burns, IVD, then-director of faculty outreach and program assessment, implemented the idea and recruited the roundtable participants. The theme of the next Boston College Roundtable, April 12-14, will be “Science and the Person.”