by Steve Johnson
Special to The Leaven
ATCHISON — Benedictine College here has embarked on a process that it hopes will make a significant impact.
On April 13, the college gathered industry leaders, thought leaders and subject matter experts for the first of several meetings in its Transform Culture in America initiative.
“We have spent 10 years with the goal of building one of the great Catholic colleges in America,” said president Stephen D. Minnis. “Now we are asking the question: Why? What can a great Catholic college do? How can we transform culture in America?”
Nine subcommittees are examining the impact the college can have on culture. These include: commerce and finance, with banking and business leaders helping plan initiatives with faculty and board members; technology, with engineers and entrepreneurs proposing ideas; science and health care, gathering leading doctors and scientists; and more.
Nationally known experts are joining the effort. For example, EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, author Amy Welborn, journalist Elizabeth Scalia and architect Duncan Stroik will help plan how the college can impact arts and media. U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry sits on the civic life and the law subcommittee.
Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia, Mary Hasson of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and the Rev. Eugene Rivers of Boston’s TenPoint Coalition will help address the issue of the family.
The college has been working since June 2018 on this project, a follow-up to Benedictine College’s transformative plan “Benedictine 2020: A Vision for Greatness.”
The college’s board of directors have met three times about the plan to Transform Culture in America, including a Legacy board meeting in October that brought past board members together to discuss ways the college can transform culture in America. Faculty and staff of the college have met twice, at the beginning of each semester of this school year, to share in the process.
The chair of Benedictine College’s board of directors, Jack Newman, said: “The college has a proven track record of success and this is a tremendous opportunity to give back to the communities where our alumni live. These meetings are designed to turn lofty goals into pragmatic, practical solutions, and the college is gathering people who excel at that.”
“A college whose motto is ‘Forward, Always Forward,’ can never be satisfied with past successes,” said Minnis. “We truly believe God blessed Benedictine College not for our own sake but for the sake of others, and we will be judged on our generosity. So, we are brainstorming ways the college’s mission of community, faith and scholarship can transform culture in America.”
The college’s mission is “the education of men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.” Preparatory materials for the Transforming Culture meetings note that the mission mirrors the way Benedictines transformed Western culture through community, faith and scholarship.
“Our mission can transform culture in America by modeling community in an age of incivility, spreading faith in an age of hopelessness, and committing to scholarship in a ‘post-truth’ era,” reads the Benedictine’s Transforming Culture in America document.
The process will finish in 2020 with a strategic plan after subcommittees and the board of directors finish their work of collecting ideas, examining them and prioritizing them.