11 November 2007

A Byzantine Catholic university?

Because I teach at a university with a distinctive confessional identity, I am always interested to learn of new educational ventures that claim a foundation in a christian tradition. There are, of course, any number of Catholic universities in North America, one of which I myself attended more than two decades ago. But as far as I know Transfiguration College may be the only fledgling university in the Byzantine Catholic tradition. Gestating in Aurora, Illinois, it styles itself a Byzantine Catholic Great Books College, taking its curricular cues from Mortimer Adler and Robert Maynard Hutchins' 54-volume Great Books of the Western World.

Two observations are in order. First, it is somewhat surprising for an institution that claims to be in the Byzantine tradition to be touting a western-oriented great books programme. To be sure, they do have St. John Chrysostom, Basil the Great and Fyodor Dostoevsky. But where are Gregory of Nyssa, the Philokalia and Nikos Kazantzakis? Second, because its website appears to have been updated last in 2005, it's not clear whether Transfiguration College is still in the planning stages or effectively dormant. If the former, then I wish them God's blessing in this new venture.

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