Situated in North Canton, Ohio—between a residential neighborhood and farm fields—Walsh University has quietly persevered over the past decade in strengthening its Catholic identity. At the same time, the University’s enrollment has climbed 92 percent, and nearly every building on campus has been newly built or renovated. Among the new buildings is the campus’ first stand-alone chapel.
Despite serving mostly non-Catholic students, Walsh has demonstrated a sincere commitment to upholding and teaching the Catholic faith, such that we are pleased to include it for the first time in The Newman Guide.
Named after former Youngstown Bishop Emmett Walsh, the University was founded in 1960 by the Brothers of Christian Instruction. In keeping with the Brothers’ charism, Walsh has a special commitment to Ohio’s working families.
That commitment extends to students of all faiths, so that the large student body (more than 2,300 undergraduates) is a mix of Catholics and mostly other Christians. Only 20 percent of students come from Catholic schools. The faculty is about half Catholic, although the portion is likely to grow with the University’s current direction.
Offering 51 undergraduate majors, five graduate programs, and five accelerated degrees for 400 working adults, Walsh is particularly
known for its education, nursing, physical therapy programs and its unique majors in the medical field of bioinformatics, and museum studies. Nearly a quarter of students major in business, and another third in nursing or biology.
Five Brothers serve on the board of directors, which also includes three priests and Youngstown Bishop George Murry, S.J. President Richard Jusseaume was appointed in 2001. He is a Walsh alumnus, a former student Brother, a former professor and dean of students, and a successful businessman. Committed to Walsh’s Catholic identity, he built the University chapel, placed crucifixes in all of the classrooms, and made hiring Catholic professors and staff a priority.
At an average cost of $32,280 in 2012-13 for tuition, fees, and room and board, Walsh is well below the average for private schools in Ohio and nationally. The average financial aid package is $20,157, and scholarships are available including some for Catholic high school graduates.
Walsh’s 37-credit general education program—representing about a third of the credits required to graduate—exposes students to the liberal arts and Western thought, and Catholic theology is firmly integrated.
“Scripture and the Catholic Tradition” is the only particular course that every undergraduate student must take. Theology chairman Father Patrick Manning designed the course to ensure “that every student is exposed to the Catholic interpretation of Scripture and the deposit of faith.”
Students choose from a wide range of courses to meet requirements in philosophy, history, literature, science, art or music, and social and behavioral sciences (choosing among government and foreign affairs, economics, psychology, and sociology).
The general education program is completed with a series of “heritage” courses, most of them interdisciplinary. Students choose a course focusing on contemporary challenges such as business ethics, the environment, Nazi Germany, and sexual responsibility; a course in “religious traditions,” with some options more explicitly Catholic than others; a course in the development of Western culture;
and finally a “capstone” course, pulling together what has been learned about contemporary challenges and exploring solutions by such means as conflict resolution, business policies, bioethics, liturgy and sacraments, etc.
There are additional requirements in mathematics, foreign languages, and reading and writing skills if students do not demonstrate proficiency in those areas upon entering as freshmen.
At least one general education course must qualify as a “diversity course,” meaning that it “focuses on how categories of differences are formed, how differences are experienced, and how differences are given meaning through social institutions.” Also, at least one general education course must be designated “service learning,” involving at least 10 hours of service to a community organization.
Walsh places special emphasis on the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes, which addresses the Catholic Church’s role in the modern world, especially with regard to social justice, culture, science, and ecumenism. All faculty are expected to consider the document and apply it to their teaching.
Walsh’s 51 undergraduate majors are provided by schools of liberal arts, education, and nursing. Walsh is one of only three colleges in Ohio to offer a program in the genetics field of bioinformatics. It is also one of the top colleges in the state for nursing and physical therapy. The museum studies program is also unique; students are able to intern with local museums, such as the nearby Hoover Historical Center.
The theology department’s Catholic professors are required to have the mandatum to teach; two of them are Catholic converts. But also affiliated with the department part-time is Rabbi John Spitzer, who teaches Jewish studies and directs the University’s Jewish/Catholic Studies Institute. Several years ago, he publicly offered to perform homosexual “commitment” ceremonies.
Walsh has study abroad programs. Its eight-week Rome Experience allows students to stay in a former monastery that can house 16 students and faculty near the Pope’s summer home, Castel Gandolfo, while learning about the Church’s history, art, and culture in Rome. A shorter, more concentrated version is offered through Rome Summer. Walsh also offers a four-week Uganda Experience; students examine Ugandan history, traditions, social institutions, and challenges for development.
Father Anselm Zupka, O.S.B., began in fall 2011 as the university’s full-time chaplain. He serves the University’s Catholic and other Christian students together with Director of Campus Ministry Miguel Chavez, a Walsh alumnus, and two other full-time campus ministers.
“We won’t compromise our Catholicism, but a lot of it—like vespers or exposition of the Blessed Sacrament—has to be taught or explained,” Chavez said. “It’s easy to be Catholic where everyone is Catholic. This is mission territory.”
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Chapel serves as the spiritual hub of the campus. Mass is offered twice a day except for Saturday; attendance at daily Mass is sparse. A Holy Hour and Vespers is held every Sunday evening, and Eucharistic Adoration is available 30 minutes prior to each Mass. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is scheduled seven times each week.
In addition, a mid-week praise and worship service, with Eucharistic Adoration, is held every Wednesday evening. This event is popular with both Catholic and non-Catholic students.
Campus ministry coordinates several retreats throughout the year. Every spring, the staff brings a group of students to the Chrism Mass
at St. Columba Cathedral in Youngstown.
There are weekly Bible study, ancient Greek study, and prayer gatherings including a men’s group (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and a women’s group (Sisters in Christ). In the From Water into Wine group, juniors and seniors can work on discerning their future calling while making wine.
In 2012 Walsh launched the House of St. Andrew, a residence for up to eight men discerning a religious vocation.
In 2008, campus ministry instituted a Peacemaker Program. Four upperclass students receive scholarships to serve as catalysts, living and sharing their faith with students in freshmen residence halls.
Students who do not live locally with their parents must reside on campus. There are nine residence halls, each with its own chapel and access to exercise facilities. Most also have computer labs and wireless Internet.
All first-year, traditional students reside in Alexis Hall, in which opposite-sex students are separated by wing or floor. Most of Walsh’s other residence halls are single-sex or apartment-style buildings.
Students who are of legal age can have alcohol in their private residence, but the university does not allow it in public spaces. Records show a significant decline in alcohol-related incidents in recent years.
Privacy hours are between midnight and 8 a.m. during the week—starting at 2 a.m. on the weekends—and there can be no opposite-sex visitation in hallways or rooms during those hours. Visits are always permitted in common areas. Walsh presents several discussions promoting chastity and women’s dignity.
Towers Connector is a common area that connects several of the residences and provides a computer lab, classrooms, a fitness center, a 75-seat movie theater, and a convenience store.
Gaetano Cecchini Family Health and Wellness Complex features two gymnasiums, coaches’ offices, some classrooms, and a wellness center for fitness activities. Just off campus there are sporting fields, a running track, tennis courts, and Hoover Park.
The University is within minutes of more than 100 restaurants, shopping, recreational, and entertainment options in suburban Canton. Canton is home to the Professional Football Hall of Fame and the William McKinley Presidential Library. Cleveland is about 55 miles north, with additional cultural and sporting events.
Walsh has approximately 60 different official student clubs and other organizations and activities. Student campus ministry is the most popular, working with the University chaplain and other student organizations to provide retreats, prayer, social and service outings, such as an Appalachia immersion experience, Habitat for Humanity service, and more.
The Paul and Carol David Family Campus Center serves as the university’s active student union. A game room, on the lower level, features pool, foosball, table tennis, a snack bar, and a piano. Poetry readings and other social events take place here.
The University Program Board organizes campus activities such as homecoming, a weekend movie series, bringing national entertainers on-campus, the spring formal, and Little Sibs weekend.
There are a number of academic preparation clubs tied to various majors. There’s a student newspaper The Walsh University Spectator, a campus radio station, three choirs, and a marching band. The university recently opened a Center for the Arts to house the student choirs and band.
Walsh offers 20 intercollegiate sports for men and women in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer,
softball, tennis, track and indoor track, and volleyball. The Cavaliers are provisional members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II (NCAA) and the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for all sports other than men’s lacrosse. Men’s lacrosse is a member of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference.
In addition, Walsh offers a variety of intramurals. Competitive league play is offered in flag football, dodgeball, softball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and bowling. Weekend tournaments are held in golf, billiards, table tennis, and corn-hole.
While Walsh University continues to strengthen its Catholic identity, it is clear to us that the administration, campus ministry, and many faculty are committed to the task. The University is more than doctrinally Catholic; its attention to service and to working families reinforces its mission.
Walsh is not a strictly liberal arts college, like many in The Newman Guide. But today many Catholic students are not interested or prepared for four years of liberal arts studies, and too often they turn to secular and state universities to find particular majors, career preparation, sports, and other programs. For them, Walsh offers an authentic Catholic campus life together with a wide variety of academic disciplines and other services that are typical of contemporary universities.