'Academic Freedom and the Telos of the Catholic University'
Palgrave Macmillan, $85, 230 pp.
“A crisis is looming within American Catholic higher education,” read the diagnosis, issued in 2006. “As Catholic colleges and universities analyze their position and set a course for the future, they are faced with a structural reality that threatens their ability to continue as institutions with vibrant religious cultures.” With these sobering lines Melanie M. Morey and John J. Piderit, SJ, opened their account of the challenges facing Catholic higher education (Catholic Higher Education: A Culture in Crisis, Oxford). Their interviews of senior administrators at thirty-three Catholic institutions revealed a widespread inability to articulate the relationship between the Catholic intellectual tradition and the academic disciplines of the modern university. The presidents and provosts were positively eloquent, on the other hand, in expressing their commitment to building a faculty that could compete with leading secular institutions for students, prestige, federal grants, and other sources of public funding. This quest for high-yield faculty, Morey and Piderit warned, could come at the cost of the Catholic identity of institutions already displaying “a rather weak Catholic culture.”