When I interviewed for the position of dean of Constantin College more than eight years ago, I called my wife Rebecca at the end of the day and told her that, despite the distance between Irving and our hometown, I felt like I had at last come home. I was bowled over by the intellectual vitality and collegiality of our faculty and students and the manner in which an earnest desire for the truth and a thirst for wisdom were manifest. I knew at once that these were my people.

There is no question that the life of the mind and the intellectual virtues that nourish it are alive and well at the University of Dallas. But the life of the mind is not something set apart from the rest of the lives of our students, faculty and staff. Our university is not just marked by intellectual vivacity; it is marked by vivacity per se. Just as each of us is not a soul that inhabits a body, but rather a fully integrated embodied being, so too the intellectual virtues cannot be fully exercised without the complementarity of the moral virtues. This is why our mission orients us not just to truth and wisdom, but to virtue as well.

At the same time, an excellent intellectual formation does not guarantee moral goodness. This is a point that St. Cardinal John Henry Newman makes with great care in The Idea of a University. We can learn to be attentive to things themselves, to appreciate the manner in which the various disciplines make unique contributions to knowledge and complement each other to cultivate a unity of knowledge, even while failing to cultivate those virtues that make us both good and holy persons. This is why Newman also wrote on and implemented a rich approach to the residential and other cultural features of the university. You can have approximations toward and intimations of the intellectual virtues without having them fully. You can have a certain sort of wisdom without being truly wise in the sense of a unified cerebral and moral wisdom. The quality of those many features of campus culture that we organize under the title of Student Life matters tremendously if one has the goal, as we do, of educating the whole person.

I am so grateful to the remarkable ways in which our Student Affairs Office staff, under the inspired leadership of our longtime English professor and Dean of Students Gregory Roper are endeavoring to realize fully Newman’s vision for the university by ensuring the intellectual virtues are integrated with the moral and theological in the lives of our students. Enjoy the glimpse this issue provides into facets of University of Dallas culture that too often escape notice.


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