Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Adoration Chapel a First Step in Growth Plan at Aquinas College (Tenn.)

Aquinas College recently began transforming The Carriage House, a popular snack bar on campus, into a Perpetual Adoration Chapel. The renovation is the first of many such projects stemming from the College’s “multi-phase plan for growth.”

The plan includes campus expansion, academic program reviews, and enhancement of student and spiritual life in order to “meet the needs of [Aquinas’s] changing student population,” reports the College on its website. The plan responds to the goals and initiatives set forth in the College’s new strategic plan to be released this fall.

According to Aquinas College Magazine, the strategic plan Vision 2020 will drive the College forward on its mission over the next six years. In a letter to the college community, President Sister Mary Sarah explains:

[Vision 2020] is an aggressive plan, designed to build on that strong foundation that has been a hallmark of Aquinas College since its very inception. In general, the goals touch every part of our campus; from the expansion and improvements to our facilities, to expanding student life programs that include a study abroad program and an eye toward formalizing an athletic program that underpins the holistic approach to a distinctly Dominican Catholic education.

A part of Vision 2020, reports associate provost William Smart on the College website, involves doubling the degrees and majors offered. Not only does this allow the college to serve a broader range of students but it also responds to the demands of Ex corde Ecclesiae which states that a Catholic university should “…scrutinize reality with the methods proper to each discipline, and so contribute to the treasury of human knowledge.” Study of each of the disciplines, continues Smart, should lead back to “the Author of Truth and Reality, God.”

Additionally, Vision 2020 calls for the creation of a comprehensive core curriculum. While integrated common coursework is not a new concept, continues Smart, Aquinas’ Faith and Culture core differs because it “represent[s] a distinctly Dominican approach to intellectual and professional formation.”  Dr. Aaron Urbanczyk, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, asserts on the College website that this curriculum “will integrate the humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the fine arts into a common curricula experience which, to borrow a phrase from Pope John Paul II, spring truly ‘from the heart of the Church.’”

Aquinas will also adopt projects to expand and improve its campus facilities, the first of which will be a multi-purpose building. It will include a residence hall, student center, and dining hall. The College intends to have it completed and open for student use by the 2015 fall semester.

Finally, the strategic plan outlines other curricular and co-curricular experiences including a study abroad program to Bracciano, Italy. These opportunities, continues Smart, allow Aquinas to “continu[e] its tradition of responding to the needs of its students and the community.”

Aquinas College is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.

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