Friday, May 11, 2012

Georgetown

FLG has been busy and didn't notice until The Ancient pointed it out, that Mrs. P called Georgetown overrated and then posted about Prof. Deneen's quest to get Georgetown to rescind the invitation to Kathleen Sebelius to speak on commencement day.

A few things:
First, Prof. Deneen is a fantastic professor.  FLG and countless other students will miss him and feel that university is far worse off for his loss.  The Tocqueville Forum, which Prof. Deneen founded, livened the academic and intellectual life of the university, and FLG is deeply and personally grateful to him for this.

Second, while FLG is sadden about Deneen leaving and thinks the university community is to blame, he also doesn't think there should be a litmus test for who speaks at Georgetown.  Should it only be Catholics?  Only people who adhere steadfastly to the Church's teachings?  Because we are all sinners and the list will get very short very quickly.  FLG doesn't think even a university as prestigious as Georgetown can get Jesus or one of the saints to deliver a commencement address every year.

Third, all of this discussion reminded FLG of these passages:
Georgetown has, for years, had a golden opportunity...to make a great contribution to American education...

Georgetown has had this opportunity for one simply stated but complexly true reason: because it was Catholic. But, instead of being Catholic, or even Jesuit, Georgetown has rudely turned its back on its one chance of making any contribution to American education and has instead almost totally destroyed its opportunity for becoming an excellent Catholic university and a good American university, in its frantic drive to become a fifth-rate Harvard...

The rulers of Georgetown University have never stopped to ask themselves: What is real education? What should we be trying to do? What can we do best, or better than anyone else around? What can our own traditions contribute to the improvement of American education? From the answers to these questions Georgetown could achieve the best undergraduate education in America and do it with less money than is now being wasted on the misguided, mis-emphasized, present drive to follow the so-called "great universities" down the slope after Harvard, Princeton, and Berkeley.
By aping the un-Christianized, de-Westernized world of American life and American education outside the old Catholic ghetto, the Jesuits have betrayed Christianity, and the West, to a degree even greater than has occurred at Harvard or at Princeton. And now young people all over the country are trying desperately to get back to some kind of real, if primitive, Christianity, with little real guidance from their so-called teachers and clergy. What is even more ironical is that they, and the more progressive of their teachers, in their efforts to get back to the mainstream of Western Christian growth are trying to work out, by painful application, all those things (like multi-valued logic, or the role of daily good-works in Christian life) which were worked out within the Christian West long ago, but are now forgotten, and now have to be re-discovered as something new.

Funny thing, that's from 1967. 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

One cannot avoid the sinner as public speaker (or instructor) at Georgetown but one should avoid the advocates of sin.


George Pal

Withywindle said...

What he said. And, c'mon, "litmus test"? It's a public honor. You don't just hand them out willy-nilly.

The Ancient said...

I agree with much that Quigley said back in 1967 -- particularly about the sort of people that a college ought to hire as professors. (Too late for that, it seems.)

Over the past twenty years, as Georgetown has tried to become "a Great University" (meaning a fifth-rate Harvard), University-wide departments have been established, the faculty for these departments have been recruited on quite a different basis, and the courses have been subtly changed from explanations of the subject to preparation for graduate work in that subject.

The most obvious change has been in standards of faculty recruitment -- or, as it is miscalled everywhere, "raising faculty standards." Undergraduates should be taught by men who have a broad understanding of the subject, who are themselves of broadly cultured background and who are, above all, good teachers. They should be men who understand students, the world, and the relationship of their subject to both of these, and they should be men who seek to impart understanding and do not confuse understanding with either knowledge or pedantry.

No "Great University" uses, or will use, standards such as these in hiring faculty. Instead, every aspirant "Great University" emphasizes earned degrees, the place where these were earned, research reputation, and the number of publications (regardless if these works are ever read by anyone). The disastrous consequence of faculty chosen and promoted on this basis on the aims and quality of undergraduate education must be obvious, especially in combination with the previously mentioned shift in course content from explanation and understanding of the subject to preparation for graduate work in that subject.


Still, I can't help pointing out that he also b-slaps Harvard for allowing undergraduates to study such "nonsense" as computer programming. Even as long ago as 1967, this was a silly point of view.

Twenty years ago, in recognition of the injury being inflicted on undergraduate education by over-specialization, Harvard spent about $46,000 on a faculty committee which came up with the famous "Harvard Report on General Education." On the basis of that report, courses were set up at Harvard on "general education." Today, the undergraduate can take his choice from 94 courses in "General Education," the most recent of which is on computer programming. This is the kind of educational nonsense which goes on when an American university has hundreds of millions of dollars to spend.

The Ancient said...

P.S. OK, why was it "silly" back in 1967?

Because even then there were lots of people at elite colleges who wanted to specialize in computer programming who were "hiding" in departments that required massive data processing -- psychology, sociology, etc. Department heads understood this, and aided and abetted it -- everywhere.

(There were also people, here and there, who thought computers had a future. But they were not, as best I can recall, too many or too influential.)

Anonymous said...

Per:

"Second, while FLG is sadden about Deneen leaving and thinks the university community is to blame, he also doesn't think there should be a litmus test for who speaks at Georgetown. Should it only be Catholics? Only people who adhere steadfastly to the Church's teachings? Because we are all sinners and the list will get very short very quickly. FLG doesn't think even a university as prestigious as Georgetown can get Jesus or one of the saints to deliver a commencement address every year."


A straw man's argument - "he also doesn't think there should be a litmus test for who speaks at Georgetown. Should it only be Catholics? Only people who adhere steadfastly to the Church's teachings?"

This isn't about non-Catholics or Catholics in good standing speaking at Georgetown, this is about the architect of the HHS mandate who has been invited to speak. But I'll shut up and let the Archdiocese of Washington speak - it avoids canonical language but still hammers home the truth:

"Late last Friday, Georgetown University announced that U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is the featured speaker for an awards ceremony at the University’s Public Policy Institute. This news is a disappointment but not a surprise.

"As is well known, Secretary Sebelius is the architect of the 'HHS mandate', now federal law, which requires all employers — including religious institutions — to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptives for its employees and redefines religious ministry to exclude Catholic social services, hospitals and universities if they serve or employ non-Catholics. Given her position, it is disappointing that she would be the person that Georgetown University would choose to honor.

"Founded in 1789 by John Carroll, a Jesuit priest, Georgetown University has, historically speaking, religious roots. So, too, do Harvard, Princeton and Brown. Over time, though, as has happened with these Ivy League institutions, Georgetown has undergone a secularization, due in no small part to the fact that much of its leadership and faculty find their inspiration in sources other than the Gospel and Catholic teaching. Many are quite clear that they reflect the values of the secular culture of our age. Thus the selection of Secretary Sebelius for special recognition, while disappointing, is not surprising.

"Blessed John Paul II, in his 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, invites Catholic universities into a relationship of faith and excellence. He calls them to share in the Church’s task of bringing the Gospel and Christian values into the culture of our day.

He reminds us that a Catholic university is 'a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in cultures marked by secularism… Moreover, all the basic academic activities of a Catholic University are connected with and in harmony with the evangelizing mission of the Church,' among them, 'dialogue with culture that makes the faith better understood' (ECE I: B.4.49).

Anonymous said...

cont'd:
cont'd...

"One can only wonder how the selection of Secretary Sebelius for such a prominent role as a featured speaker can be reconciled with the stated Catholic mission and identity of Georgetown University. Secretary Sebelius’ vision on what constitutes faith-based institutions presents the most direct challenge to religious freedom in recent history.

"On the same weekend that the Georgetown announcement was made, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of Catholic education and the intellectual and cultural challenges of the New Evangelization in the context of contemporary American society. The Holy Father recalled that during his pastoral visit to America in April 2008, in his homily at the Mass at Nationals Stadium, he called on the Church in America to cultivate 'a mindset, an intellectual culture which
is genuinely Catholic'. Last weekend he reiterated the need for American Catholic institutions of higher learning to commit to “building a society ever more solidly grounded in an authentic humanism inspired by the Gospel and faithful to the highest values of America’s civic and cultural heritage”.

"With all of the people struggling so hard to preserve freedom of religion, and with all that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said in defense of this important value, Georgetown’s choice of the architect of the radical challenge of such freedom for special recognition can only be seen as a statement of where the university stands – certainly not with the Catholic bishops. Clear and unambiguous

"Georgetown University’s response to the commencement speaker decision is disappointing, but not surprising. When the vision guiding university choices does not clearly reflect the light of the Gospel and authentic Catholic teaching, there are, of course, disappointing results."


Prof. Deenan was doing Georgetown a big favor by asking them to withdraw the invitation.

Mrs. P

Anonymous said...

Oops --

The "clear and unambiguous" is mine - not Archdiocese of Washington:

"With all of the people struggling so hard to preserve freedom of religion, and with all that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said in defense of this important value, Georgetown’s choice of the architect of the radical challenge of such freedom for special recognition can only be seen as a statement of where the university stands – certainly not with the Catholic bishops." Clear and unambiguous.

Mrs. P

 
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