Skip to content

New BC Initiative Seeks to Advance Catholic Higher Ed

Professor Marc Muskavitch, a participant at this weekend’s Boston College Roundtable: “I hope that the sharing among colleagues of perspectives on mission during these roundtables will enrich my understanding of that mission and its realization, and do the same for my colleagues.” (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Apr. 11, 2013

University Mission and Ministry is launching a new initiative, the Boston College Roundtable: Advancing the Mission of Catholic Higher Education, a series of gatherings where scholars from Catholic colleges and universities discuss the mission of American Catholic higher education through the lens of their academic disciplines.

The first roundtable, which will convene this weekend at the Connors Family Retreat and Conference Center, will focus on the theme “The Role of Charism and Hospitality in Catholic Colleges and Universities.” Three additional roundtables are planned over the next 24 months, on topics such as science and the person and the transcendent value of the liberal arts. Three or four scholars will present papers at each roundtable and the proceedings will be published in a journal.

“We are excited about this initiative,” said Lisa Hastings, interim director of Mission and Ministry’s Office of Faculty Outreach and Program Assessment, which is organizing the roundtables. “We are pleased that these scholars, representing not only theology and philosophy, but also disciplines such as political science, physics, biology and economics, have made the commitment to this series.

“Our hope is to advance the conversation about mission, identity, and the Catholic intellectual tradition through the eyes of scholars across academic fields so we can examine what difference a faith-based education makes in the contemporary context,” she added.

The idea for The Boston College Roundtable came from conversations between University President William P. Leahy, SJ, and Vice President for University Mission and Ministry Jack Butler, 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 scholars presenting papers at the April 12-14 roundtable are: University Professor of English Paul Mariani (“Charism and the Literary Imagination”); Providence College Theology Department Chairwoman Aurelie A. Hagstrom (“The Role of Charism and Hospitality in the Academy”), and Georgetown University Theology Professor and Georgetown College Dean Chester Gillis (“Welcoming the Religiously Other to a Catholic University”).

In addition to Mariani, other Boston College faculty members participating in the roundtable are: College of Arts and Sciences Dean and History Professor David Quigley, Theology Professor Rev. Michael Himes and Professor of Biology Marc Muskavitch.

“Working to understand and help realize more fully the mission of Boston College has been an important part of my life as a member of the BC community,” said Muskavitch. “I hope that the sharing among colleagues of perspectives on mission during these roundtables will enrich my understanding of that mission and its realization, and do the same for my colleagues.”

Additional roundtable participants are: Eileen Botting, University of Notre Dame associate professor of political science; John C. Cavadini, University of Notre Dame professor of theology; John D. Cunningham, SJ, Loyola University Chicago associate professor of physics; Marian Diaz, University of Dayton religious studies lecturer; Kevin Hughes, Villanova University associate professor of theology and religious studies; William C. Mattison III, The Catholic University of America associate professor of moral theology; Amata Miller, IHM, St. Catherine University professor of economics; Thomas G. Plante, Santa Clara University Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ, university professor and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine; Katarina Schuth, OSF, St. Thomas (Minn.) Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion, and William Werpehowski, Villanova University professor of Christian ethics.

Monsignor Melchor Jose Sanchez De Toca y Alameda, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will attend the roundtable as an observer. Also serving as observers will be Fr. Burns, Hastings, Vice Provost for Faculties Patricia DeLeeuw, Church in the 21st Century Center Director Erik Goldschmidt, Intersections Program Director Burton Howell, Roche Center for Catholic Education fellow Michael James, College of Arts and Sciences Senior Associate Dean and Law Associate Professor Gregory Kalscheur, SJ, Faculty Outreach and Program Assessment Assistant Director Timothy Muldoon, and School of Theology and Ministry Associate Director of Spiritual Formation Barbara Quinn, RSCJ.

The University Mission and Ministry website is