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v2.1 Reference

What We Hold in Trust

Rediscovering the Purpose of Catholic Higher Education

The specific concern in What We Hold in Trust comes to this: the Catholic university that sees its principal purpose in terms of the active life, of career, and of changing the world, undermines the contemplative and more deep-rooted purpose of the university. If a university adopts the language of technical and social change as its main and exclusive purpose, it will weaken the deeper roots of the university's liberal arts and Catholic mission. The language of the activist, of changing the world through social justice, equality and inclusion, or of the technician through market-oriented incentives, plays an important role in university life. We need to change the world for the better and universities play an important role, but both the activist and technician will be co-opted by our age of hyper-activity and technocratic organizations if there is not first a contemplative outlook on the world that receives reality rather than constructs it.

To address this need for roots What We Hold in Trust unfolds in four chapters that will demonstrate how essential it is for the faculty, administrators, and trustees of Catholic universities to think philosophically and theologically (Chapter One), historically (Chapter Two) and institutionally (Chapters Three and Four). What we desperately need today are leaders in Catholic universities who understand the roots of the institutions they serve, who can wisely order the goods of the university, who know what is primary and what is secondary, and who can distinguish fads and slogans from authentic reform. We need leaders who are in touch with their history and have a love for tradition, and in particular for the Catholic tradition. Without this vision, our universities may grow in size, but shrink in purpose. They may be richer but not wiser.

About the Authors

Don Briel (1947-2018) was the primary founder of the Catholic Studies program at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) and Blessed John Henry Newman Chair of Liberal Arts at the University of Mary (N.D.). Kenneth Goodpaster is the Koch Professor of Business Ethics - Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.). Michael Naughton is the Koch Endowed Chair in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas (Minn.). Dennis Holtschneider, CM is the President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

Reviews

"Wise, practical, and solidly grounded in both theology and the best research on institutional development, the brief and timely reflection - inspired by the work of Don Briel - will benefit board members, administrators, faculty, and anyone else charged with preserving and advancing the Catholic identity of our colleges and universities. This is just the sort of resource for which I have been looking."—Ryan Topping, author of Renewing the Mind: A Reader in the Philosophy of Catholic Education

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