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Religion and the Liberal Aims of Higher Education

A two-day conference to honor Boston College's sesquicentennial
Thursday, November 8, 2012, 5:00-6:45pm
Friday, November 9, 2012, 9:00am-5:00pm


About the Event

What sets religious colleges and universities apart from their secular peers when both are committed to offering a liberal education? This conference brought together fifteen distinguished scholars and writers, including six current or former university presidents, to examine the varied complexions of liberal education and the unique contributions and challenges that religion brings to the endeavor.

The conference opened with an evening keynote address by an eminent historian—now a university president—on the role that religious colleges and universities have played in American society. The next day featured three moderated panels on "historical trajectories" (with distinguished historians and observers of higher education, religion and culture), the "view from the top" (presidents of three religiously affiliated colleges and universities) and "dynamic tensions” (advocates for and critics of the religious dimension of higher education). An afternoon keynote lecture from a former religious studies professor and university president—now president of a foundation committed to strengthening liberal education—took the measure of contemporary higher education. Closing remarks from BC president William Leahy, SJ wraped up the discussion before a public reception following the event.

Thursday, November 8

5:00 - 5:10    Welcome and Opening Remarks
Erik Owens, Associate Director, Boisi Center for Religion and
                  American Public Life, Boston College

5:10 - 6:15pm    Opening Keynote
Nathan Hatch, President, Wake Forest University

6:15 - 6:45pm    Public Reception


Friday, November 9

8:30 - 9:00am    Continental Breakfast

9:00 - 9:15am    Welcome and Opening Remarks
Henry Braun, Boisi Professor of Education and Public Policy,
                    Boston College

9:15 - 10:30am   Panel 1: Historical Perspectives
Andrew Delbanco, Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies
                           and Levi Professor in the Humanities,
                           Columbia University
Cullen Murphy
, Editor-at-large, Vanity Fair magazine
Mark Noll
, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History,
               University of Notre Dame
Julie Reuben
, Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School
                    of Education

10:45am - 12:00pm    Panel 2: The View from the Top
John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President, University of Notre Dame
Mark Massa, S.J., Dean and Professor of Church History, Boston
                        College School of Theology and Ministry
Jane McAuliffe, President, Bryn Mawr College
Philip G. Ryken, President, Wheaton College (Wheaton, IL)

12:15 - 1:30pm     Lunch and Keynote Address   
Richard Morrill,  President, Teagle Foundation; former President,
                       University of Richmond, Salem College and
                       Centre College

1:45 - 3:00pm    Panel 3: Dynamic Tensions
Susan Jacoby, author and independent scholar
Mark Oppenheimer, Columnist, New York Times; lecturer in
                             English, Yale University (moderator)
Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Noah Porter Professor Emeritus of
                               Philosophical Theology, Yale University;
                               Senior Fellow, Institute for Advanced
                               Studies in Culture, University of Virginia

3:00 - 3:15pm    Closing Remarks   
William P. Leahy, S.J., President, Boston College

3:30-4:30pm    Public Reception