Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here it is, folks: The Mission of the University of Notre Dame, with my comments. Let me tell you, I was impressed by how good it sounds, and how poorly it's actually executed. If Notre Dame followed THIS Mission (it is its Mission, after all.), then there would not be any doubt that it was a Catholic University.

"The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic [See, this is the first thing they say] academic community of higher learning, animated from its origins by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The University is dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake.[Truth] As a Catholic university, one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity. [This is one of our goals, to promote explicitly connecting Catholic thought with all forms of knowledge. I LIKE this. It is a Great Sentence]

The intellectual interchange essential to a university requires, and is enriched by, the presence and voices of diverse scholars and students. The Catholic identity of the University depends upon, and is nurtured by, the continuing presence of a predominant number of Catholic intellectuals. [I think predominant means a greater quantity, and from all I've heard, there's not a predominant number of Catholic Intellectuals. In other words, the University is failing in its mission. This is a valid concern that could easily be addressed.] This ideal has been consistently maintained by the University leadership throughout its history. What the University asks of all its scholars and students, however, is not a particular creedal affiliation, but a respect for the objectives of Notre Dame [I can understand that they will allow non-Catholics to go here and teach here, but is it too much to ask people to experience a truly Catholic University if that's what they applied to?] and a willingness to enter into the conversation that gives it life and character. Therefore, the University insists upon academic freedom that makes open discussion and inquiry possible.

The University prides itself on being an environment of teaching and learning that fosters the development in its students of those disciplined habits of mind, body, and spirit that characterize educated, skilled, and free human beings. In addition, the University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.[This is considered the "Mission Statement". It has nothing to do with Catholicism. Whatever? It seems like they want to preach but not explicit teachings of the Church. Someday, they have to realize that the Church is the only way to true humanitarianism.]

Notre Dame also has a responsibility to advance knowledge in a search for truth [There's that word truth again. It seems important. What is Truth? If we're searching for it, shouldn't we start with what we already know? Like the teachings of the Church.] through original inquiry and publication. This responsibility engages the faculty and students in all areas of the University, but particularly in graduate and professional education and research. The University is committed to constructive and critical engagement with the whole of human culture.

The University encourages a way of living consonant with a Christian community and manifest in prayer, liturgy and service. Residential life endeavors to develop that sense of community and of responsibility that prepares students for subsequent leadership in building a society that is at once more human and more divine. [Could of course apply to any Christian University. What makes us specifically Catholic?]

Notre Dame's character as a Catholic academic community presupposes that no genuine search for the truth in the human or the cosmic order is alien to the life of faith. [Faith, in the Truth. We search for the truth in the Truth that we believe in.] The University welcomes all areas of scholarly activity as consonant with its mission, subject to appropriate critical refinement. There is, however, a special obligation and opportunity, specifically as a Catholic university, to pursue the religious dimensions of all human learning. [Once again, something very specific to what we want. The Religious dimension of learning. We need to emphasize this. It's all here in the Mission, folks.] Only thus can Catholic intellectual life in all disciplines be animated and fostered and a proper community of scholarly religious discourse be established.

In all dimensions of the University, Notre Dame pursues its objectives through the formation of an authentic human community graced by the Spirit of Christ."


  1. I'm a little confused by your commentary on the third paragraph. You say, "It has nothing to do with Catholicism." It seems to me, thought, that it does. Maybe I'm misreading what you say.

  2. It certainly can be applied to Catholicism, but it doesn't have to be. It can be the mission of any well-meaning institution. Taken out of context, it could seem that this isn't related to ND's Catholicism, which it actually is.

    Even worse is the actual text that they take out of the paragraph and call the mission statement. It completely leaves out the first sentence.