NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Anticipation for the University of Notre Dame’s ten-year review of its curriculum continues to build for many faculty members who are eager to see the University’s Catholic identity strengthened, according to the National Catholic Register.

Several faculty members expressed their concern to the Register that theology courses at Notre Dame would not be given priority during the review.

“I think that there is a real possibility that we could lose the requirement of two theology courses,” John Cavadini, director of the Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame and former head of the theology department, told the Register. “There is a lot hanging in the balance with this review. And there seems to be an aggressive push behind radical change, which they are now starting to call ‘bold change.’”

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“Theology is the only discipline with a formal tie to the Church,” Cavadini reportedly stated. “If you sever that tie between the core curriculum and the theology requirement, you sever the last formal or structural tie between the Church and the curriculum as a whole.”

Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C, professor of history at Notre Dame, has taken measures to advise the core-curriculum committee in the past, including his words at a November 19 open forum at which he urged the committee to focus on curriculum requirements that would familiarize students with “the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Miscamble told the Register:

Let me simply say that the faculty issue is crucial. Notre Dame must build upon the presence of the committed faculty presently there to recruit more devoted teachers and scholars who want to offer a distinctive Catholic education for its students. Only if this task is successfully accomplished will Notre Dame rest secure in its Catholic identity. This must be appreciated by all, but especially by those who undertake the curriculum review. We must have the faculty willing to teach the courses that a Catholic university must provide its students.

Even one anonymous and non-Catholic faculty member reportedly told the Register that he valued the University’s Catholic identity, stating that Notre Dame “would not be a great university” if it did not maintain its Catholic identity.

“I certainly hope the theology requirement will stay as it is or even be increased,” Sister Ann Astell, a theology professor at Notre Dame, said in the report. “That is my hope, but I don’t know if it is my expectation.”

Sr. Astell reportedly noted in a letter to the core-curriculum committee that “philosophical and theological study is simply the indispensable, defining mark of Catholic education.”

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While members of the curriculum review committee declined to comment to the Register, Notre Dame’s spokesman and vice president for news and media relations, Dennis Brown, reportedly stated that, at least for now, the “curriculum review is in the early stages of an at least two-year process, and a variety of proposals are being discussed.”

Originally published here by Catholic Education Daily, and online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society

Authored by Kimberly Scharfenberger