The 2016 lecture of the annual Constantin College Galbraith Lecture Series will be held tomorrow evening, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. in the Art History Auditorium, to bring into focus Augustine’s “Confessions,” as well as to draw students back into a central feature of their University of Dallas education: the Core curriculum.
Thursday’s lecture, to be delivered by Baylor University patristics professor Dr. Michael Foley on the “Hidden Unity of St. Augustine’s ‘Confessions,’” marks the second talk in the series, which is devoted to the texts of the Core.
Alison Galbraith, ’12, said that her parents, Alex and Martha Galbraith, established the lecture series as an expression of gratitude for the education she received at UD.
“It’s great to give back financially to your school, but [the series] is a very tangible way of giving back,” Galbraith said, adding that the lectures provide a way to “[have] the joy of sharing with people.”
Dr. Jonathan Sanford, dean of Constantin College, said that Galbraith’s parents met with then-Constantin College Dean and current Provost Dr. C.W. Eaker to flesh out their plans for the series.
With help from the Office of Advancement, they brought Dr. Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame and specialist in Roman Catholic sacred architecture, to give the inaugural lecture in Spring 2015.
When Sanford arrived at UD that fall, he wanted to institutionalize the series.
To do so, he built a faculty committee of English professor Dr. Bernadette Waterman-Ward, economics professor Dr. Aida Ramos, philosophy professor Dr. Chad Engelland and history professor Dr. Charles Sullivan.
“[The committee and I] came up with the name for the series and the mission statement,” Sanford wrote in an email. “I am chiefly responsible for coordinating the efforts of the series and communicating with the Galbraith family.”
Galbraith said that she believes the series will serve as an opportunity for her friends and fellow UD graduates to gather to continue the discussions they had as undergraduates.
In addition, she said that the lectures are deliberately devoted to broad, rather than narrow topics.
“We want [the series] to be broad enough that a wide variety of students can attend, rather than having a narrow focus,” Galbraith said. “For instance, as an English major, I know we could have brought in a speaker on the troubadours or on medieval literature, but that [would have appealed] to a narrow audience.”
Because of the broader focus, the lectures will lend themselves more easily to the extended conversations both Galbraith and Sanford hope to see as a result of the series.
“[The lectures] will extend the conversation around the [Core] texts, remind upperclassmen of something they haven’t thought about in a few years, and [invite in] the broader community,” Sanford said. “I would tell [students] to come and be a part of the conversation and take advantage of this opportunity … These texts provide a model for the way to live, and Foley is someone who exemplifies that educational goal.”
Currently, Sanford is looking at bringing a Dante scholar to UD for the 2017 lecture.
Sanford also said that he has hopes for a sister series focused on the sciences if a donor can be found.
“The goal would be to show that science and math are just as much part of the Core,” Sanford said.
He added that he is excited for the current humanities-focused lectures because part of his mission as dean has been defining the essence of Constantin College.
For Galbraith, part of this essence has been the ability to make connections between different disciplines.
“It’s as if professors have planned this,” Galbraith said. “As an example, when I was a sophomore, I was taking Fr. [Robert] Maguire’s Lit Trad IV class, and I was writing a paper on ‘Crime and Punishment.’ I was having a hard time discerning what to write my paper about, when … I decided to write about Raskolnikov and Razumikhin based on Aristotle’s definition of friendship in the ‘Nicomachean Ethics.’ It was a very tangible way of connecting what I’d learned in Phil and Eth.”
This interdisciplinary sense fostered from her time at UD has proved indispensible during her time as a teacher of medieval history for homeschoolers.
“I knew the position would be difficult, but I decided to accept because of my UD foundation,” Galbraith said, noting that Core classes that study Western civilization gave her a sufficient, if not excellent, background for teaching medieval history.
Galbraith said she loves having such chances to bring the UD Bubble to other people.
“UD is such a special place,” Galbraith said. “There are very few places like it. In and out of the classroom, our Catholic identity is maintained. Everyone has to work very, very hard; it’s an intense place. Even in the midst of intense moments … we give glory to God.”