June 6, 2018
Eighteen members of the Saint Vincent College faculty and administration attended a three-day summer seminar at the Fred M. Rogers Center on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. It was co-chaired by Fr. Thomas M. Hart, O.S.B., assistant to the president for mission and instructor in theology, and Dr. Jerome Foss, associate professor of politics. Participants were, front row, from left, Dr. Peter Smyntek, assistant professor of interdisciplinary science; Dr. John Pascarella, postdoctoral fellow in international politics; Dr. Michael Krom, professor of philosophy; Dr. Sarah Daly, assistant professor of criminology, law and society; Dr. Jennifer Diemunsch White, assistant professor of mathematics; second row, from left, Dr. Derek Breid, assistant professor of engineering science; Terrance Smith, instructor in management; Dr. James Kellam, associate professor of biology; Dr. Eric Kocian, assistant professor of criminology, law and society; Dr. Eric Mohr, assistant professor of philosophy; Fr. Thomas; Dr. John Smetanka, vice president for academic affairs and academic dean; Dr. Zachary Davis, assistant professor of economics; Foss; and Aaron Sams, instructor in education. Missing from photo are Dr. Tina Phillips Johnson, professor of history and director of Chinese studies, research associate at University of Pittsburgh Asian Studies Center; Br. David Kelly, O.S.B., director of libraries, Saint Vincent Archabbey, College and Seminary; and Dr. James V. Maher, member, Saint Vincent College board of directors and chair of academic affairs committee, provost emeritus, distinguished service professor of physics emeritus, University of Pittsburgh. At the seminar, faculty cooperated in building bridges across various disciplines in the common pursuit of truth and to demonstrate, as noted in the Application of Ex corde Ecclesiae for the United States, “commitment to Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes in carrying out research and teaching … with due regard for academic freedom and the conscience of every individual.” Fr. Thomas said that the seminar was “a wonderful opportunity for Saint Vincent faculty to gather over the course of three days to discuss ideas and learn more about the relationship between faith and reason, discover the influence this tradition has had on our respective disciplines and consider ways in which our instruction and scholarship might be enriched through a deepening understanding and encounter with others seeking truth and wisdom.” The works extended to fiction (Flannery O’Connor), science (pertaining to the centenary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity), poetry (The Xinxin Ming, a sixth-century Ch’an Buddhist text) and the intriguing questions born of postmodernism, the interface between neurobiology and theology, as well as a richer understanding of the multiple levels of authority in regard to the Church’s magisterial teaching. “Seminars like this are essential for us to grow as a community,” Foss commented, “one of the ten hallmarks of Benedictine education, because truth is best pursued together. In addition to the important content covered, our discussions strengthened existing friendships and sparked new ones among faculty from different parts of campus. It was a wonderful experience!” Similar seminars were held in the summers of 2012 and 2013.
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