Catholic Colleges and Universities: Values for the Money

By James, Michael J.; Lamadrid, Lucas | Momentum, February/March 2006 | Go to article overview

Catholic Colleges and Universities: Values for the Money


James, Michael J., Lamadrid, Lucas, Momentum


"The Catholic colleges and universities in the United States have had an enormously powerful influence in helping to shape higher learning in this country. They have brought not only the influence of intellectual life and vitality, they have also brought a great sense of moral commitment. They understand how to blend so splendidly the intellectual quest and the yearnings of the human spirit."

Ernest L. Boyer

President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Values for the Money

Many universities and colleges sell their educational offerings under the heading that they teach values-values of leadership, citizenship and character. Unfortunately, when one looks more carefully at those institutions one readily sees that values can mean many things to many people. At best, those institutions mean a generic well-being or a consciousness for the civil community. Catholic colleges and universities put their money where their values are. Community, character, intellectual rigor, service, justice and a sense of the sacred are values grounded in a long tradition of intellectual development and service to one's neighbor.

Catholicism is the bedrock of western intellectual institutions. From the monastic schools to the great medieval universities, higher learning stems from Catholicism. But that venerable tradition also is committed to engaging the modern world. A Catholic college or university is a moral community, led by a group of people who are committed to the institution's religious character and mission. Catholic colleges and universities provide a readiness to reflect on modern society from a true valuesoriented perspective, with convictions that promote justice and opportunities for all people and intellectual freedom, including the freedom to communicate ethical principles that give fuller meaning to life. A Catholic college education is an investment in life. Love of neighbor, love of life, love for God and the love of learning are interwoven into the fabric of a Catholic higher education.

Impressive Facts about Catholic Colleges

* More than 720,000 students attend 221 Catholic colleges and universities located in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Catholic colleges and universities account for half of all students enrolled in faith-based institutions of higher education in the United States.

* Catholic college and university enrollment increased in the 1990s by 18.8 percent, a rate that is almost three times the national average (7 percent) over the same time period. Private university enrollment over the same period increased by 6 percent, and faithbased institutions increased by 16.8 percent.

* An average of 65 percent of students at Catholic colleges and universities is Catholic.

* Catholic colleges and universities in the United States are among the world's most prestigious learning institutions. Many Catholic schools are cited again and again in U.S. News & World Report, Barren's, Time and Money magazines as Best Value, Best Regional Liberal Arts College, Excellent Buy and finalist for College of the Year.

* Catholic colleges and universities consistently are cited by the John Templeton Foundation as "Character-Building Schools."

* In the United States, Catholic institutions of higher learning include: four medical schools, 26 law schools, 17 schools of engineering, 81 schools of nursing, 177 schools of education, 19 women's colleges, three Carnegie-classified research universities, 13 doctoral universities and two aviation programs.

* Catholic universities also have some of the most impressive sports programs in the United States.

Linked Globally

Linked to a global church and to sponsoring religious congregations with international connections, most of these schools facilitate study abroad opportunities for summers and junior-year semesters. They participate in faculty exchanges and international conferences. …

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