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SLU 200: Symposium Considers Catholic Higher Education After 'Land O'Lakes'


Scholars and academic leaders from across the country will gather to consider the 50-year legacy of a clarion call in Catholic higher education, the Land O'Lakes Statement on the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University, at a symposium organized in honor of Saint Louis University's bicentennial, beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 20.


The symposium begins on Sept. 20 and concludes on Sept. 22, 2017.

The symposium, A Distinctive Vision? Catholic Education 50 Years After Land O' Lakes, will include a diverse range of panels, presentations, Masses and reflections from university leaders. The symposium spans three days to consider the watershed moment in American Catholic history.

SLU graduate and undergraduate students can attend the symposium for free. Other SLU community members and interested friends of the University can attend the full symposium for $125 or select, limited events for free.

Saint Louis University's history is intimately connected with the landmark statement, Gene Brion,  one of the symposium's organizers said. The 1967 statement developed in part through the efforts of then-University President Paul C. Reinert, S.J., who came together with Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., the president of the University of Notre Dame, and other Catholic leaders to consider how Catholic colleges and universities would respond to the seismic shifts in higher education underway in the years following the reforms of Vatican II. Hesburgh organized the summit and Reinert was a well-known leader in higher education.

The statement issued by the group, "Land O'Lakes Statement on the Nature of the Contemporary Catholic University," called for Catholic institutions to consider themselves universities "in the full modern sense of the word, with a strong commitment to and concern for academic excellence."

"To perform its teaching and research functions effectively the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself," the statement declared. Coupled with the other calls to action contained in the statement's five pages, "Land O'Lakes," Brion said, has come to be a much-debated but pivotal moment in Catholic higher education.

"It's this document that's shaped where Catholic higher education has gone," Brion said.

University President Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., will join John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., D. Phil.., the president of the University of Notre Dame, to offer a joint reflection to lead off the symposium's events at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 20, in the Anheuser-Busch Auditorium in the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business.

Other leaders from local colleges and universities are expected to attend the symposium. 

Scholars and leaders from Catholic and Jesuit colleges and universities across the nation will present papers and lead discussions on leadership, the history of Catholic higher education, administration, academic practice and the Catholic intellectual tradition among other topics.

In addition to scholarly discussions and presentations, the symposium features a Dean's Discussion moderated by Mark S. Markuly, Ph.D., dean and professor of practical theology at Seattle University's School of Theology and Ministry. Christopher Duncan, Ph.D., dean of SLU's College of Arts and Sciences, and John T. McGreevy, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame, will make be on hand for this panel.

In the spirit of Pestello and Jenkins, C. Reynold Verret, Ph.D., president of Xavier University in New Orleans, the only historically Black Catholic Jesuit university in the nation, will give the symposium's closing remarks on Friday, Sept. 22.

A complete symposium schedule is available and was up-to-date as of Friday, Sept. 15.

"It's an opportunity to draw from, whether you are attending a panel or a discussion, that [scholarly] wisdom," Brion said. The variety of presentations and viewpoints on the legacy of the Land O'Lakes statement, he continued, points to the dynamism of Catholic higher education today and its potential as it continues into the 21st century. 

The symposium, Brion explained, showcases what it means to be part of that tradition, "whether you're Catholic or not, it shows what it means to work at a place like SLU, to positively impact students' experiences as well as our colleagues."

Saint Louis University is a world-class Catholic, Jesuit institution educating nearly 13,000 students on two dynamic, urban campuses - in St. Louis, Missouri, and Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1818, the University will soon celebrate its bicentennial.
With a legacy of innovative academics and research, compassionate health care and faithful service, Saint Louis University attracts a diverse community of scholars who push intellectual boundaries in pursuit of creative, meaningful ways to impact the world, striving to serve a higher purpose and seek a greater good.