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Can This College be Saved?

December 21, 2016

American culture creates problems for faithful Christians who want to educate students to appreciate their religious faith. American higher education reflects this secular trend and for many years colleges and universities that were founded by Catholic religious orders and Protestant denominations have ceded control to Faculty.

Attempts to reverse that trend can be fractious as seen in a recent controversy at Mt. St. Mary College in Newburgh, New York.

One report cites several college sources expressing their dismay that their college was changing course:

            One faculty person complained that board members “wanted to take the school in a          much more conservative, Catholic direction.” Students have also objected to the single- sex dorms on campus, wanting living arrangements to be co-ed. And James Beard,  professor of communication arts, said, “To me, the governance structure has begun to   emulate the Church hierarchy — this is what the men say, and that’s what you do. I’ve  been here 34 years, and I entered a very warm, welcoming, nurturing place, and this is    now a hostile place.”

Imagine that. Single sex dormitories at a Catholic college!

A report in InsideHigherEd.com for February 15 characterized this as a struggle for “Faculty Rights.”

If you read this report closely you’ll understand that a prominent member of the local community with traditional Catholic views joined the Board of Trustees and began to move the college in a “Catholic” direction. He retained a conservative scholar to serve as President and began to intrude in areas that the Faculty thinks is solely their responsibility.

Who owns a college, anyway? The Trustees think they do. The Faculty believe they do, and the students and alumni think they own their alma mater. It takes very strong wills to change religious colleges that no longer serve the Church–in the case of Catholic institutions–and the denominations that founded them in the case of Protestant colleges.

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