Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"On quite specific, practical matters where there is nothing to lose, like joining library consortia, even big rats and little mice will collaborate: but not when a hefty chunk of cheese is at stake."

     James Turner, the Rev. John J. Cavanaugh CSC Professor of the Humanities at the University of Notre Dame, on one of the two reasons why, as things stand today, we shouldn't expect a lot of collaboration between the Catholic universities and the Evangelical colleges and universities.  "Enduring differences, blurring boundaries," in Mark A. Noll and James Turner, The future of Christian learning:  an Evangelical and Catholic dialogue, ed. Thomas Albert Howard (Grand Rapids, MI:  Brazos Press, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2008), 81.
"Less cynically, one could argue that the largest interests of Christian learning demand that Notre Dame strive to become a Catholic Harvard or Michigan and that it will not get there by swimming with smaller fry.  Notre Dame does not even club with other Catholic universities, except in superficial ways.  In the feeding frenzy of intercollegiate competition for status, differences in standing and vision will preclude continuing, extensive cooperation between Boston College and its near neighbor Gordon College or between Notre Dame and its near neighbors Goshen College, Wheaton College, and Calvin College" (81, italics mine).
This because
"the leading Catholic universities occupy a niche isolated from the niche occupied by the best evangelical schools. . . . Notre Dame is not going to hook up in any substantial way with Baylor, for the same reason that Baylor is not going to hitch its start to Mercer University, even though Mercer is likewise self-consciously 'founded on Baptist traditions and principles.'  Baylor and Notre Dame are both looking in the opposite direction:  above their current echelon in the academic rating game" (80).
     Coupled with the admission that "while Notre Dame may prefer to rub shoulders with Duke and Princeton rather than Calvin and Gordon, it does not hesitate to cherry-pick top scholars from its evangelical neighbors", I found all of this refreshingly frank.

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