Preparing for the future at University of Dallas?

Preparing for the future at University of Dallas?

A reader sends along this tidbit from the blog of “D Magazine” in Dallas about rumored changes at the well-known Catholic school University of Dallas (which also happens to be my wife’s alma mater.)

The little Catholic university on the hill has been afflicted by a number of bad decisions lately, such as wasting money to compete with SMU for the George W. Bush Library (hel-lo, where did Laura Bush go to school? And isn’t W a Methodist?). But in its search for a new provost, there is very good news. Among the candidates for the post is Thomas Hibbs, the well-known Aquinas scholar and current dean of the honors program at Baylor. If there is a man to get UD back to its mission and to attract the kind of talent that will restore its reputation, Hibbs is the man.

Considering his (somewhat dated) biography in that second link, he sounds like a good man on the right track and perhaps the right man for the job. The provost, as described by UD in the first link, is the chief academic officer for the school who has oversight over the hiring of faculty. This is especially pertinent now that many of the longest-serving faculty members are approaching retirement and so new hires now will have long-lasting effects.

The challenges facing UD go back further than the Bush presidential library competition, back to a somewhat disastrous presidency earlier this decade. Tim Drake wrote two articles for Catholic World Report on the problems in 2001, “Raid or Rescue?”, and 2003, “Hope for the future in Dallas.”

(Interesting anecdote: Some of the photos used to illustrate the earlier article were Melanie’s from her time there, but I got them from her through a mutual friend who is also a UD alumna. I hardly knew Melanie at all at the time and was one of my first interactions with her. Funny how things work out.)

  • A daughter entered UofD this fall.  We renewed a few acquaintances while dropping her off, and I suspect that the U has a decent set of (financial) resources remaining.

    I’ll say this:  the VP/CFO of the U of D is one very sharp cookie.

  • I disagree with Wick Allison about the pursuit of the George W. Bush library.  At the outset, it was unclear if SMU wanted the operation there or if they had the room for it as their campus is totally surrounded by expensive built-up real estate.  UD got immense favorable publicity from its bid, including mention in the same week on the front page of the New York Times, America’s greatest newspaper, and the Wall Street Journal.  Frank Lazarus explained the details of the proposal to me back in February, and it made perfect sense, using the UD property along the banks of the Elm Fork of the Trinity.  It may have been a long shot, but UD did make the short list as the Brits say, and I think its image was hugely enhanced.
        As a long time alumnus {BA, 1965}, I have always admired UD’s ability to remain loyal to its Catholic roots whilst upholding extraordinary academic standards and not obsessing about following every jot and tittle of decreta from Rome as is the practice at the array of “catechism colleges” which attract the ultraconservatives who do their best to prove Shaw was right when he said a Catholic college was a contradiction in terms.

  • “not obsessing about following every jot and tittle of decreta from Rome”

    Seems a contradiction to laud the previous while also claiming that UD remained “loyal to its Catholic roots.”

    What you call “jots and tittle of decreta”, the Church calls the Magisterial teaching office.

    Shaw was an ass since it was the Catholic Church that invented the idea of the modern university. If some see a contradiction between being Catholic and rigorous academics, then they just don’t know what academia is for.

  • On the OTHER hand…

    Cindy Sheehan is speaking today at U of Dallas, at the invitation of some Econ prof.

    ‘sOK.  Gives the College Republicans something to organize over—and they are demonstrating as we type this.