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ERIC Number: EJ847580
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun-26
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
For Catholic Colleges, an Important Goal: Don't Surprise the Bishop
Supiano, Beckie
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n40 pA20 Jun 2009
Every college president's success depends on building good relationships with outside groups, whether donors, alumni, or legislators. Presidents of Roman Catholic colleges have one more party to please: the local bishop. In recent months, the bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania, asked colleges in his diocese to assure him that they were not providing birth control. The archbishop of New Orleans boycotted Xavier University of Louisiana's commencement because the speaker, a Democratic Party strategist, supported abortion rights. And dozens of bishops spoke out against the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to give its commencement address and receive an honorary degree. That controversy received nearly nonstop attention in the three months following the announcement that Mr. Obama, who supports abortion rights as well as research on human embryonic stem cells, would speak on the campus. But while such incidents get a lot of news coverage, experts on Catholic higher education say they do not reflect the typical relationship between bishops and colleges. "One good thing that will come from the recent flurry of commencement controversies is there is more interest on the part of presidents and bishops and other interested parties in having a more fully formed dialogue about how to go forward," says Richard A. Yanikoski, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. "How that will come out remains to be seen." So how do presidents navigate this important and sometimes tricky relationship? When potential conflicts arise, it's imperative for the president to contact the bishop as soon as possible. "What the bishops don't like is reading about things in the newspaper," says Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. Regular communication can make a big difference. "If they have a good relationship before the crisis happens," he says, "it tends to keep the rhetoric under control." The relationship between presidents and bishops is supposed to be about more than damage control. "It isn't just about an early-warning system," says Richard A. Yanikoski, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. "It's about recognizing the distinct roles the church and university have in society, and the roles of bishops and presidents. And there are times those roles will lead to different practical judgments.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A