Friday, October 24, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Christian Universities Require More than a Statement of Faith

In a recent essay published in Inside Higher Ed, Melanie Springer Mock, Professor of English at the Quaker George Fox University in Oregon, reflects on her experiences in the hiring process and provides insights into what is required to teach at a Christian college.

Being raised in a religious home does not automatically qualify someone for employment at a college similar to my own, nor does merely "honoring" or "appreciating" the values upon which the religious institution was founded.

Instead, job applicants to religious institutions — especially those who continue to believe religious faith an integral part of their curriculum — need to show they not only understand the university’s mission, but are truly willing to affirm its doctrines and have those doctrines inform their faculty work.

She argues that just as individuals have a right to not apply to an institution which requires a faith statement or such, a religious institution, for the same reason, can require it of its employees.

But institutions do indeed have this right legally, and academic freedom has its limitations in every institution, not just those founded on religious principles. Thus, job hopefuls who might argue they would "never apply to a college requiring me to sign a faith statement" — an assertion I’ve heard often — need not read further, because (of course!) you are free to make that choice, just as institutions are free to disregard those candidates who chafe against their doctrinal statements.

Being a right fit is important and several Catholic universities also demand it. As part of their hiring process, The Catholic University of America has “undertaken a number of practical initiatives to safeguard and foster the University’s Catholic identity.”  One step:

Ensured that formal offers of employment to faculty and staff were accompanied by explicit references to the expectations of employees to respect and support the University’s Catholic mission. The faculty handbook reinforces that theme and specifically references Ex corde Ecclesiae: “[E]ach member of the faculty has a responsibility to reflect on ways in which his or her research contributes to the University’s identity, especially as described in Ex corde Ecclesiae, whether in general or in specific, as is appropriate to the discipline in which the faculty member works.[1]

Similar policies exist with other colleges and universities recommended in The Newman Guide to Choose a Catholic College.

Mock concludes by writing about the importance of being the right fit.

After all, when we offer you a job, we are extending a 10- or 20-year, or even careerlong commitment to you, to your work, and to the gifts you can offer our students. More than just appreciating or respecting the university’s values, we need to know that you can live them, and that you can live sympathetically with us —and our values — too.

The Newman Guide provides information about each of the 22 U.S. recommended colleges and university and 6 international and on-line colleges or institutions. For each of the colleges one can find information on the composition of the faculty and the expectations of them.

Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.

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