Proponents offer two major reason for New College (NC): (1) By NC, the University of Dallas can remedy its failure to serve North Texans of humble means; (2) NC can address UD’s looming financial challenges.
The proposal is well-intended but has weaknesses.
First, the plan is fiscally imprudent and counter-productive.
Charity builds on justice, and the aims of both are achieved by sound execution of good plans. Those in need of degree completion are best served by affordable programs run by competent experts. To devote mind, time, and energy to develop competence in this arena would detract from crucial re-investment in the craft we know. Resources here being few and fragile, the effort could prove detrimental. Competitors rich in resources (e.g., the University of Texas at Arlington) are affordable and competent.
Second, the insinuation that UD fails to serve North Texans is unjust for two reasons. UD already educates students from the area and from this and other nations. As is widely appreciated, UD’s undergraduate education enhances the culture, intellect, and character of all who partake in this noble endeavor. In an age of increasing complication and innovation, to cultivate wisdom and knowledge is to contribute to true liberation of soul, so that human persons might direct the things of earth wisely rather than be directed by narrow construals of confining possibilities. True liberation of soul strikes at the roots of the cultural poverty that contributes to material poverty.
UD is poised to extend this noble service and profitability simultaneously. Dean Parens — whose shocking termination has, thankfully, been made right by his reinstatement — has been cultivating new graduate programs that are consonant with UD’s mission and pose no risk. Utilizing current resources, the Humanities Masters in Classical Education (HMCE) degree will equip graduates to teach classical curricula at junior high and secondary levels. This effort addresses needs of North Texans by way of outstanding new charter schools focused on classical education and astute to science and mathematics. Tuition free, these successful schools provide real options for North Texans, especially those unable to afford elite educations (Ursuline, Jesuit, etc.).
HMCE contrasts with NC on each of the following points: It poses no risk; requires no new resources to commence; offers immediate and practically guaranteed profitability; can be shrunk or terminated in the unlikely result of failure; builds directly on UD’s core mission as foundation; is aligned with the Core; will not involve new faculty senators devoid of institutional commitment to the Core; and is universally celebrated by faculty and alumni. Dean Parens has also drawn up plans for complementary programs in business, etc.
The insinuation that UD should begin serving in a radically new way represents mistaken judgment, and to goad a reluctant staff towards such change would constitute bad leadership.
The metroplex has many needs, to be sure. But does that mean we as an institution should neglect our proven post to undertake something completely different?
Each person has his or her calling and training. Each institution, its mission. There are many noble missions and many needs. To neglect one’s constitutive excellence out of panic that some need is not being met is to neglect the actual service to which one has been called and thus to fail those in need.
NC has caused manifest discontent. This discontent cuts across departments and colleges. If discontent in one major constituent should give a prudent leader pause, all the more should widespread concern and wariness. Not a few alumni and parents also raise objections. NC has been proposed with good intentions. However, the hard-working and underpaid crew has spoken clearly and consistently. Thus, NC should not be rammed through. Let us run with such programs as those cultivated by Dean Parens in Braniff.
Third and most importantly, NC, by its institutional definition, is negligent of the Core. Unlike the very fine business B.A. we offer, NC will not incorporate the marvelous Core of UD. Of all tenuous or risky programs ever suggested here, this one alone by definition excludes the real Core from ever informing its endeavor. NC will relegate Constantin to an honors college and thus dilute UD’s character, its central asset.
NC promises only money, yet this promise is risky and tenuous.
Further, the promise of money for UD undercuts the promise to serve the poor. Are we serving the poor, or are we hoping they serve us with their hard-earned money?
Finally, NC distracts and detracts from an opportunity for which UD is ripe: the announcement of a capital campaign. President Keefe has skillfully brought this fine university to a good place.
At long last, we are in a position to raise money. Lots of it. Let’s think big.