Skip to comments.No Price Tag: Campion College Successor Seeks a Radical Alternative
Posted on 12/01/2004 12:08:07 PM PST by nickcarraway
While the future of Catholic higher education tends to look increasingly bleak, with widespread abandonment of the Faith, financial scandal, and an overall secularization, a solidly Catholic liberal arts college is being created in San Francisco by a core group of students, teachers, administrators, and friends of the now-closed Campion College.
The idea of a new Catholic institute of higher education started during the dismantling of Campion College of San Francisco, a two-year Catholic liberal arts college that announced to its students and faculty in June that it was closing due to the cessation of funding by the Guadalupe Associates, its parent corporation.
A group of faculty and administrators tried to have the college continue outside of the auspices of the Associates. However, due to the pressure of raising around $500,000 in a short amount of time, and concerns from the Associates regarding the use of the Campion name, the plan was scrapped.
From these explorations the idea was floated by former Campion professor Stephen Cordova and another faculty member (who wishes to remain anonymous due to his association with another Catholic university) to create something akin to Campion.
They approached Cliff Price, the father of Mary Price, one of the Campion students who was left without a college when Campion folded, and formed a steering committee. Jack Sullivan, who was highly involved in the failed effort to save the St. Ignatius Institute and later was active in Campion College, and John Galten, the former president of Campion College, were drafted to the committee.
Soon a radical new concept based on the Gospel idea of abundance was being forged by a small group of Catholic faithful. Expanded to include continuing adult education, catechetical material, and college preparatory assistance to homeschoolers, as well as a four-year baccalaureate college, the Saint Anthony of Padua Institute was born. Thus envisioned as a community of learning, with participants of many states of life as well as many levels of means, the Institute's "single end is cultivation of the mind to promote in souls the knowledge and the love of truth, which is perfected in the knowledge and love of Truth in Person," according to the Institute's prospectus.
There are two characteristics that set the Saint Anthony of Padua Institute apart from other Catholic liberal arts institutions, in addition to its fidelity to the magisterium. (According to the prospectus, "the College will shape its identity according to the instructions of the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Colleges and Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, and will incorporate both the Constitution's General Norms and the particular norms of Ex Corde Ecclesiae: An Application to the United States into its own governing polity.")
The institute's first distinctive characteristic is its mission of serving the whole family beyond just the college-age students, through catechetical materials and programs, college preparatory assistance, and life-long learning opportunities. The second, and more revolutionary, is its proposed funding structure.
Taking their cue from the Gospel, as well as the Christian Schools Movement established by St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle and the Franciscan ideal of poverty embodied in the life and teaching of St. Anthony of Padua, the architects of the St. Anthony system are placing the institute under voluntary poverty. Not looking to build a great campus, nor a library, nor a large administration, the institute is asking for household subscriptions to support its work.
Each subscribing household will be able to take advantage of all of the institute's programs. An example given in an internal memo is a homeschooling family of seven with two college-age children, two teenagers, and a six-year-old. As part of the subscription, the parents could take continuing education classes, the teenagers could get college preparatory assistance in the form of curriculum materials, the six-year-old could benefit from catechetical materials and programs, while the two college-age students (provided they meet the academic qualifications and have an interest) could enroll in the St. Anthony of Padua College.
The subscription system is described in that same memo as "a radical turning away from the commodification of education."
"A wage or fee is an exchange of value (the wage) for equivalent value (the service)," reads the rough draft of Reflection on Subscription and the Community of Learning, a document designed to explain the subscription system. "The earner's service commands a price (paid as a wage or fee) because its value can be measured in a market. Because it can command a price, it is (as the conventional term has it) compensation. A stipend (or honorarium) cannot be understood as compensation. Priests are not compensated for the 'service work' of administering the Sacraments and proclaiming the Gospel. Rather, they receive a stipend, which is a sufficiency enabling them to carry on their literally priceless works, that is, works which are intrinsically valuable, valuable apart from any extrinsic measure, market or otherwise. The purpose of a stipend is to support a work, not to compensate it. Now, the subscription is to the work of a community of learning what the stipend is to the ministry of a priest."
Originally conceived of as a flat subscription amount of $100 per month, the concept evolved to make allowances for the means of the families. Now based on gross income, with adjustments for family size, whether or not the family has medical or retirement packages, and other economic factors, the subscription is specifically designed with Catholic social teachings in mind.
Although the subscription model will greatly benefit large families who seek quality Catholic higher education for their children, the primary aim of the system is not simply cost reduction. Instead it is a whole re-orientation of the understanding of education, particularly in a Catholic context.
As described later in the Reflection, "the difference between subscription and tuition comes down to this: tuition is a fee for services, set by the mechanisms of the educational marketplace, and contracted from an educational service provider; subscription is participation in the achievement of the common good embodied in a community of learning. It is of the essence of a common good that it returns whole to each and every participant. It is the essence of a service that it is a strictly limited benefit."
Similarly, faculty will receive stipends instead of salaries to support their work.
Asked what would happen if a family decided to join the institute only a month before their college-ready children were looking to enroll (and so not be paying an amount equal to that paid by those who had been subscribers for years), one of the committee members cited the parable of the vineyard workers. "If this model isn't practical," said the member, "then the Gospel isn't practical."
So far, projected budgets for the institute do not show subscription alone as being sufficient to maintain the institute, so various fundraising efforts will be required (and have already begun). Solicitations to Catholics concerned about authentically Catholic higher education and fundraising events are the backbone of the planned development efforts.
With some fundraising starting, the institute's steering committee is looking to Fall 2005 for the beginning of classes for the baccalaureate program (adult education classes have already begun). "The aggressive target for admitting a first freshman class is autumn 2005," reads the Institute's prospectus. "The first class will be between 10 and 18 students, the maximum that can be accommodated by a single professor in the seminar."
"Each subsequent year," the prospectus continues, "an additional class will be added, so that in the fourth year of operation, there will be between 40 and 72 students, with a proportionate number of full and part-time professors."
The proposed baccalaureate academic curriculum is Great Books based, with a mixture of lectures, seminars, language, and tutorials. Each student will be expected to have a mastery of Latin equivalent to four semesters of university study by his second year. If he enters the baccalaureate program with that proficiency already under his belt, then he will study Greek. After his first year, he can continue with Greek or Latin, or can study a modern language.
The first-year students will take a seminar on Greek and Roman thought, a lecture course on the Bible, a tutorial in mathematics, and Latin or Greek. In the second year, the seminar will be on the medieval synthesis, with the lecture course in dogmatic theology, tutorial in logic, and Greek, Latin, or a modern language, depending on the student's mastery of Latin.
The third year will continue with seminars in modern thought, lectures in metaphysics, tutorials in natural science, and language. The senior year will feature a special senior seminar with lectures in ethics, a tutorial in music, as well as language study.
Like similar Great Books programs, there will be no majors at the St. Anthony of Padua College, nor will there be pre-professional training. The committee does not seem to think that there will be any problem getting accreditation, which must wait until the college has been in existence for a couple of years.
Recognizing a need for continuing adult education in theology, philosophy, the arts, ethics, and related topics, the St. Anthony of Padua Institute will provide not-for-credit courses, generally in the evenings and weekends.
The adult education segment has, in fact, already begun with weekly classes on the Catholic novel (taught by our unnamed professor) and early medieval Church history (taught by Stephen Cordova) being offered at the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi in San Francisco.
Franciscan Conventual Father Allen Ramirez, the rector of the National Shrine of St. Francis, is quite enthusiastic about the Institute. "I have a great interest in their program," Father Ramirez said, "as it sounds stimulating and helpful and interesting and all those things. Since we have the space for them to continue on with their effort, we want to help them in that. All along we wanted a Franciscan educational wing here at the Shrine for what we are doing, but so far have not been able to get that going for a number of reasons; so this is a way of bridging that gap."
While the plan for the Institute includes catechetical and college preparatory support, those aspects are still in the early development stage.
All of the members of the Institute's steering committee who were interviewed expressed a keen understanding of the difficulty of starting any college from scratch, especially one that challenges the deeply ingrained way of doing things. They also recognize that Fall 2005, dependent on fundraising, building a subscriber base, recruiting students and faculty, finding a suitable place to work in (preferably with the possibility of student housing), and even a host of unforeseen complications, is an aggressive, even optimistic goal. Hence, they may have selected a perfect motto for the Saint Anthony of Padua Institute: Expectate miracula.
For more information on St. Anthony of Padua Institute, please see the webpage: www.stanthonypaduainstitute.org. Or e-mail: MagisterTextus@StAnthonyPaduaInstitute.org
I have an eye on a couple of small, liberal arts Catholic colleges in NH for my daughters: Magdelene and Thomas More. Both run $8-15k/year. Not an unreasonable pricetag.
Good luck to them. This educational effort arose orginally through the work of Father Fessio, S. J., the founder of Ignatius Press. Fr. Fessio has had difficulties from his superiors, I believe, because the Jesuit order is riddled with dissent and they hate his efforts on behalf of the true Catholic Church. So they broke up his program at SFU. But of course they can't exactly say why they hate him, because that might get them in trouble if they are too outspoken.
Under those original auspices, I would hope that this venture will turn out well.
Ignatius Press is found at:
I attend a Catholic university, and even though this is my second year I definitely see things becoming more and more liberal. My mother went to this school back in the 1970's, and from what she tells me about her college experience, it is almost the total opposite.
I wish them luck. I think Christian private schools provide the best overall education.
I attended Fordham, which had a large chapter of Dignity (aka FLAG, Fordham Lesbians and Gays).
You know, as a hiring manager, I would much rather hire a graduate of a Great Books program at a small, Catholic colege than a graduate of a business or information systems program at a major university. At least there would be some chance the candidate had been exposed to the concept of critical thinking - and if so, I could teach him or her the business and technical aspects of the position.
A bump for the good guys.
Here's hoping the third time is the charm for SF. The libs are working overtime against conservatives.