Amidst significant changes throughout the spring and early summer, the campus of Holy Cross College is now filled with optimism and enthusiasm as faculty, staff and students look to the possibilities of a bright and exciting future.
Initial concerns arose over the departure of the college’s former president, Brother John Paige, CSC, from the institution in April, as well as uncertainty regarding the overall financial state of the college located in Notre Dame, Ind. However, through newly appointed leadership and enhanced tri-campus collaboration, Holy Cross is eager to convey that its commitment to providing students with a thoroughly Catholic and transformational education is as strong as ever.
Father David Tyson, CSC, who on July 31 was appointed to a five-year term as college president, revealed his strategy and hopes for the future as the school seeks to define its identity and place within the community.
“My vision for Holy Cross College as we move forward is to become a Catholic academic community that is transformative for those who engage in it, is clearly distinctive in how it approaches a curriculum that is unified and coherent, and is rooted in the college’s historical strength of preparing students for the next level of their lives.” Father Tyson conveyed that achieving this requires “a faculty that instills in our students not only content, but also a seriousness of purpose about the value of study; confidence in their intellectual capabilities, and a willingness to work hard in and out of the classroom.”
Father Tyson further stated that “the critical piece of this vision of being transformative and distinctive is the context in which it takes place, one that is intentionally Catholic.” This Catholic context “ensures that education at Holy Cross embraces the Catholic intellectual tradition in all aspects of the life of the college, including the curriculum in all disciplines; a context where the intersection of faith and reason can truly be experienced.”
A newly appointed senior vice president, Dr. Michael Griffin, revealed more precisely what this indicates for Holy Cross in the upcoming years. He remarked, “We’ve always done well at bringing in students and providing a vibrant moral and spiritual formation in the Catholic faith. Now we will ensure that our Catholic identity involves a more rigorous intellectual formation as well.
He continued, “The deepest reason Holy Cross exists, and should exist, is to cultivate the Catholic intellectual tradition both inside and outside of the classroom as an institution of the church and of the Congregation of Holy Cross. These two identities are front and center in the way we form our students.”
He indicated that this will take place through emphasizing the importance of a strong liberal arts program, which has been the heart of Holy Cross’ curriculum since its inception, but also through incorporating principles of Catholic social doctrine into the fields of business, communications, science and others. To further provide a holistic education, these courses are then coupled with experiences in the local community, the global community (e.g. trips to encounter the work of Holy Cross religious in Uganda, India and Peru), as well as a professional internship, and a Senior Capstone project.
Griffin also revealed Holy Cross’ plans for increased tri-campus partnership. He stated, “Father Tyson has emphasized his desire to grow and expand our collaboration with the University of Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s College and the local community. Brother John Paige deserves a lot of credit for building up these relationships during his time as president. Some of the ways this has already begun to occur include the continued opportunity for Holy Cross students to take classes at Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s, as well as Holy Cross’ Dining Hall now being operated by the nationally acclaimed Notre Dame Campus Dining.”
Griffin and the newly appointed provost, Dr. Justin Watson, who functions as chief academic officer, further elaborated on the college’s plans to meet the needs of a diverse range of students. While Holy Cross has existed as a traditional four-year college since 2003, several motivated students in recent years have been able, in various ways, to obtain their bachelor’s degree in less time. Holy Cross now offers an official track for students to obtain a bachelor’s degree in three years, thus significantly discounting the cost. Additionally, through collaborating with Notre Dame in the development of the Gateway Program, Holy Cross offers an honors curriculum for first-year students. Beginning in the 2018-19 academic year it will also offer a two-year honors track for students who will benefit from a rigorous and Catholic curriculum before transferring to a larger university setting.
Griffin explained, “Holy Cross first existed as a two-year liberal arts college; therefore a return to our roots, to what we have always done best, is a key part our mission. As the Latin axiom goes, “radix condit futum: our roots establish our future!”
In addition to its Catholic character and academic ethos, what has made Holy Cross distinctive and memorable for many of its students has been its close-knit, familial environment. Maintaining and enhancing this reality is another primary goal for Father Tyson.
“My experience at Holy Cross has revealed to me a community experience that is palpable across the constituents of the college,” he shared. “While we can always do better, what is important at Holy Cross is that the quality of the life of the community and the welfare of the individuals which make up that community is a core value. This value is not just a primary emphasis of the Student Life division, it is a deeply held value of the entire college community. That makes it more than programmatic, it makes it cultural and anthropological. It makes us Catholic, it makes us Holy Cross.”
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