Jesuit Education 21

Jesuit Education 21
Conference on the Proceedings on the Future of Jesuit Higher Education
Edited by Martin R. Tripole, S.J.
Saint Joseph University Press, $70, 544 pp.

The volume at hand is the record of a conference held at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, June 25-29, 1999. Eighty-three authors (mostly Jesuits) delivered talks or made comments on everything from the traditional ratio studiorum of Jesuit education to MBA degrees and student life. As a tour d’horizon of the voices of Jesuit education in the United States, this volume is fascinating, indispensable, and inconclusive. I hope it is not unkind to the earnest authors who contributed to the 544, 8 1Ú2-by-11-inch pages of this book to say that at the end I am still not certain what Christian/Catholic/Jesuit higher education is or will be. (One assumes that the adjectives are at least compatible if not synonymous.) What Jesuit higher education was is clear, but all the authors reject a return to the past. Most assume that there will be fewer Jesuits and fragmented theology. No one wants to go back to "ghetto Catholicism" and theology as Baltimore Catechism Plus.

Jesuit universities and colleges have enjoyed unprecedented success in the recent past. The contributors are justifiably proud of the fact that several of these institutions would be regarded as leading players in American higher education. Jesuit colleges are no longer thought of by the public or the higher education establishment as academically deviant, strange isolates of superstition and religious rant. But such academic success is precisely...

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About the Author

Dennis O’Brien, former president of the University of Rochester, is a longtime contributor to Commonweal.