We deny to claim "any Superiority to ourself
to defyne, decyde, or determyn any Article or Poynt
of the Christian Fayth and Relligion,
or to chang any Ancient Ceremony of the Church
from the Forme before received and observed
by the Catholick and Apostolick Church."

Norman Simplicity

Norman Simplicity
Click image for original | © Vitrearum (Allan Barton)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Veni, Sancte Spiritus

One of my old-fashioned prejudices in favour of Roman Catholicism was the prominence formerly accorded to philosophy in its educational institutions. It used to be said that a RC college "had to have" a philosophy department, no matter how tiny.

As the process of "all that is solid melts into air" continues unabated, it must finally be acknowledged that here, in America, this is no longer the case. The following is just one more entry (archived here, from the comments section there).

It’s too late for anyone to do anything about the philosophy department at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, but what happened to the philosophy department there seems to be prescient of what is happening or going to happen at many philosophy departments across the country.

In the Spring of 2009, President William Thierfelder announced that the Board of Trustees had mandated an examination of academic programs at the Abbey in light of financial concerns (it has always been the case that BAC suffers from extreme financial insecurity.) Despite repeated requests from the faculty, it was never revealed how this “examination” (which most of us realized was just a euphemism for making cuts to faculty) would place the Abbey on any kind of securer financial footing. An ad hoc committee was hastily assembled to meet over the summer to carry out this “examination.” The committee was organized and controlled by the Academic Dean, Carson Daly, whose name should be familiar to readers of this blog since she just recently resigned as President of Mount Saint Mary’s College in New York, after firing faculty there.

Long story short, it was obvious to me that both Thierfelder and Daly intended all along to eliminate the philosophy department and its faculty, and that all of this was just a cover (Daly’s constant trying to have votes on whether to eliminate the philosophy department during meetings of this committee without any warning was certainly a clue) . Despite her constant maneuverings, both the committee and later the Faculty Assembly voted to keep the philosophy major and the philosophy requirement in the core curriculum. Still, she misrepresented the will of these two bodies in her presentation to the Board of Trustees and had philosophy eliminated. When inquiries were made as to how a Catholic college could eliminate all philosophy from its academic offerings, Abbot Placid Solari, Chancellor of the college, responded that of course, there was still philosophy since the Political Science department would be offering required political philosophy courses in the core! Yet those of us in the philosophy department were told that either we didn’t have the credentials to teach these courses, or that there no need for extra faculty (the college hired another political science professor that fall).

No department but we still got a philosophy!

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