St. Ignatius Institute
The Saint Ignatius Institute (SII) is an undergraduate program at the University of San Francisco (USF), a private university operated by the California Province of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order) in San Francisco, California.
The SII offers a four-year, Great Books program as an alternative method for students to fulfill USF's undergraduate core curriculum requirements. From its inception in 1976, the SII has granted its Certificate of Liberal Arts to approximately 1,000 students.
During its first quarter century, the SII generated both controversy and accolades due to its traditional, classical approach to education and its conservative, orthodox theological stance within a larger, more liberal Jesuit institution.
Founding and Great Books curriculum
In 1976 a group of educators founded what their leader, the Rev. Joseph Fessio, S.J., called, "a completely integrated liberal arts program in the Jesuit tradition." Fessio, a theological conservative, founded the SII in reaction to curriculum changes at the university which he saw as a departure from the traditional Jesuit approach to education.
The four-year long sequence of studies in the liberal arts was designed to follow a method of seminars and lectures based on the students' reading of the Great Books of the Western World, in a roughly historical order. The reading list mostly resembled those at other undergraduate colleges offering Great Books programs such as St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at Thomas Aquinas College, in Santa Paula, California.
SII students would read and discuss the same works from the official reading list of Great Books authors chosen for their impact on the intellectual life of Western Civilization, regardless of the creed or philosophy of the authors. For instance, in their first semester, freshmen read works by Ancient Greek and Semitic pagans, including Homer, Aristophanes, Sappho, and the Epic of Gilgamesh. At the same time, the SII also drew upon and emphasized Roman Catholic contributions to the Western tradition, as represented by such Catholic authors as the early Church Fathers, St. Augustine, Boethius, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Chaucer, Cervantes, as well as more recent Catholic thinkers like John Henry Newman, G. K. Chesterton, and the fathers of the Second Vatican Council.
Like Thomas Aquinas College, the SII espoused academic freedom by not limiting admissions to applicants of any religious or philosophical belief. Students tended to be Catholic, but some non-Catholics became students and faculty members.
Unlike some other institutions with Great Books curricula, the SII operates within a larger university and does not constitute an alternative to the obligatory major that USF students declare before graduation. The original program was strong in the humanities (languages, literature, composition (language), philosophy, theology) but had a weaker offering in mathematics and the natural sciences. Students who fulfilled the requirements of the SII were awarded a Certificate in the Liberal Arts, by which USF and the SII certified that the student had achieved USF's general education requirements toward an undergraduate degree.
For its first quarter-century, the SII was a lightning rod of controversy within the university and the Roman Catholic Church. The SII's traditional approach itself provoked controversy. Some members of the university criticized what one scholar called a "parti pris" approach to education with a narrow Catholic — mostly papal — perspective.
Faculty of the SII clashed with members and friends of USF's Department of Theology who objected to SII's practice of hiring theology professors for SII classes rather than relying upon the Department of Theology to provide these faculty. The SII rejected interference by the Department of Theology because the SII wanted to maintain a strong adherence by its faculty to theological positions loyal to the Pope and Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church, especially on moral matters such as contraception, abortion and homosexuality. Eventually the differences between the SII and the Department of Theology were symbolized by their contrasting responses to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990. The papal document calls for a mandatum to be signed by professors of Catholic doctrine as a kind of testament to the instructor's orthodoxy. The SII faculty readily signed the mandatum as a self-defining act. Meanwhile, USF and the Department of Theology resisted signing the mandatum, as did theologians in many other U.S. Catholic universities in a controversy that continued for over a decade.
Various events also sparked debate, with the SII's continued existence frequently called into question. In 1978, the SII hosted a symposium to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical by Pope Paul VI condemning contraception. British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge delivered the keynote address, arguing that contraception is a lethal threat to Christian civilization. Another speaker, Fr. Gerald Coleman, dean of St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park, California, delivered a minority opposition paper at the symposium, "allowing theological dissent and reception of communion by couples practicing artificial birth control."
In 1987, USF's campus minister denied access on Sundays for the SII's popular but controversial chaplain, Fr. Cornelius M. Buckley, to celebrate Mass, alleging that his liturgies fostered a cult-like following. Critics of the decision expressed regret at the loss of variety in styles of liturgical worship at USF caused by the campus minister's ruling. Buckley's liturgical approach was described as more "simple" and "solemn."
Also in 1987, the SII faced its greatest crisis to date when the university president fired Fr. Fessio from his position as the SII's first director, over a disagreement concerning the use of a $1 million gift that San Francisco benefactress, Mrs. Louise Davies, gave to the SII. Fr. Robert Maloney, S.J., succeeded Fessio as director. Fessio continued to teach theology at USF and in the SII until 1992, when he resigned to spend more time developing Ignatius Press, the lay-run publishing house he directs in San Francisco.
Controversy again erupted in 1988 when the USF student government required that an SII student who was the editor-in-chief of the university's award-winning newspaper, the San Francisco Foghorn, accept a co-editorship arrangement in the interests of journalistic objectivity.
Additional controversies took place during the term of the SII's third director, John Galten. Under his watch the SII's faculty had to design a course in Asian philosophy to satisfy pressure from the university to incorporate non-western sources into the curriculum. A renewed clash was brought on by the transfer of the SII's chaplain, C.M. Buckley, away from San Francisco. Buckley, a published historian and translator with decades of university teaching experience, was assigned the bed chaplaincy at a Catholic hospital in Duarte, California, an assignment that Fessio would also be forced to accept some years afterward.
Removal of John Galten as Director
USF totally revamped the SII in 2001, when the new university president, Jesuit Fr. Stephen A. Privett, summarily fired Director John Galten and Associate Director John Hamlon, allegedly to trim costs and because the two were not believed to be qualified to head an academic program, despite the fact that they had been doing so for many years. Most of the SII's faculty resigned in protest. The affair received national media coverage. Conservative leaders expressed support for Galten; they included former U.S. Secretary of Education, William J. Bennett, and Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute, in a full-page ad published in the San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere. In a memo published nationally, Privett responded to criticism of his decision, stating that the replacement of the SII's leadership would promote "synergies between St. Ignatius Institute and other university programs" and create "efficiencies by consolidating resources." He held a conference with students to assure them that the SII would continue as a Great Books curriculum with qualified instructors.
Within the Catholic Church, the controversy went all the way to the Holy See. A letter of support for the SII went to Pope John Paul II signed by Fessio's former PhD thesis advisor Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (now Pope Benedict XVI), and by Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and editor of the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. Reportedly the letter was personally approved by the pope.
Nevertheless, at the pope's behest, an official letter from the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education supported the authority of the then-Archbishop William Levada to resolve tensions between the SII and USF. The archbishop chose not to reverse the firings.
SII is now headed by Assistant Professor Sean Michaelson, S.J. and includes many faculty from the university that share little of the SII's original vision of Catholic education.
The ousting of Director John Galten and his faculty at the SII spawned offspring institutions. Galten, with the assistance of Fessio and his Ignatius Press, launched Campion College of San Francisco in 2002, located just off the USF campus. Friends and alumni of SII also organized a sister college, Campion College of Washington, DC, but it never began operations.
Campion was a two-year Great Books program that effectively transplanted the SII reading list and curriculum, under Galten's watch, to a new junior college granting Associate of Arts degrees to its graduates. Campion operated for two years, graduating fourteen students, before financial constraints forced its closure.
Fessio's participation in the founding of Campion College was viewed by USF authorities and by the Society of Jesus as a direct challenge. Consequently, Fessio's superiors ordered him to have no contact with the new school, and they transferred Fessio to the same Duarte, Calif., hospital where Buckley was chaplain. Fessio later resurfaced as founding chancellor and, later, provost of Ave Maria University, a new Catholic university launched in Naples, Florida, by the mercurial billionaire Thomas S. Monaghan, founder of the Domino's Pizza chain. There Fessio would also run into difficulties with university authorities who stated that they had "irreconcilable differences" with Fessio "over administrative policies and procedures," and who—according to Fessio—objected to his traditional approach to liturgical worship. Fessio was fired from his post, but then rehired to a lesser position at the university.
- Mary Beth Bonacci, internationally known speaker and columnist.
- Delia Gallagher, journalist (Rome-based), Senior Editor, Inside the Vatican, formerly CNN Faith and Values Correspondent.
- Tom Hoopes, former executive editor, National Catholic Register; co-editor, Faith and Family Magazine.
- Francis J. Kelly, managing director and head of Government Affairs, Americas, Deutsche Bank; former writer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
- Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism; Government of Canada.
- The late Prince Robert and the late Prince Edouard-Xavier de Lobkowicz de Bourbon-Parma, former Lieutenants in the French Army, members of Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and grandnephews of the last Habsburg rulers of Austria and Hungary.
- Ed McFadden, advisor to Senator Fred Thompson; former advisor to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, and senior editor, Reader's Digest;
- George Neumayr, editor, Catholic World Report; former executive editor, American Spectator; contributor, National Review; contributor, California Political Review; former editor, San Francisco Faith; Hoover Institution Media Fellow.
- John Norton, journalist, editor of Our Sunday Visitor, former reporter for the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service and international news anchor for Vatican Radio.
- Adrian Walker, theologian, editor of Communio International Catholic Review, English translator of books by Pope Benedict XVI.
Notable faculty and guest lecturers
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
- Cornelius M. Buckley, SJ, Historian, Chaplain
- The Rev. Louis Bouyer, C.O., theologian of the French Oratory
- Dr. William Coulson, Psychologist, Proponent of ethnopsychology, Former colleague but eventual opponent of pioneering psychologists Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers
- Hans Urs Von Balthasar, Swiss theologian
- Anne Prah-Perochon, Ph.D., Founder and Editor-in-Chief, France Today
Notes and references
- University of San Francisco (USF) - USF Fact Book and Almanac
- J. Schall, S.J., "The St. Ignatius Institute", National Catholic Register (January 20, 2001)
- The group included John Galten, Fr Francis P. Filice, the Rev. Brian Mullady, OP, et al.
- Cornelius M. Buckley, "The Saint Ignatius Institute: A Traditional Catholic College," in America Magazine, March 25, 1978.
- Cornelius M. Buckley, Ibid; See also: comments by SII Director, Thomas O'Neill, S.J., in Todd Wouters,"A Changing Environment at USF forces Jesuits to Redefine Their Educational Mission," San Francisco Foghorn (Oct. 26, 2006)
- "Institute and University Move Forward Together," USF News 10:8 (Apr. 11, 2001]: "The 25-year-old St. Ignatius Institute, with 150 students currently enrolled, is a unique Great Books program rooted in the Catholic tradition. Courses are taught by College of Arts and Sciences faculty through seminars with accompanying lecture courses, organized in historical sequence, in literature, philosophy, and theology."
- St. John's College
- Thomas Aquinas College
- St. Ignatius Institute Prospectus(1984)
- As a program within the University of San Francisco, the SII followed the University's non-discrimination policy, as stated in the official USF catalog: "The University of San Francisco admits students of any race, religion, sex, color, handicap, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, national and/or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarships...." in University of San Francisco 1984-85 Catalog, p. 7
- "SI Institute: Complex Tapestry," USF Monday Bulletin (Dec. 7, 1987): "Most of the 157 students are Catholic; fewer than 10 percent are not."
- "St. Ignatius Institute," in The University of San Francisco Catalogue, 1984
- "Institute and University Move Forward Together,", USF News 10:8 (Apr. 11, 2001)
- The phrase was that of the university theologian and critic of the SII, Fr. Bernadicou, see: "St. Ignatius Institute founder fired, future uncertain," National Catholic Register, July 12, 1987, p. 9: Bernadicou asks: "Does the program, as it's now oriented, do justice to the classics they read or are they read from a parti pris position? Do they let the books speak for themselves?"
- University of San Francisco College of Arts and Sciences, "Department of Theology and Religious Studies Self-Study", (April 2004)
- K. Yamanouchi, "Students, staff protest consolidation of Jesuit institute, The Washington Times, March 31, 2001, p. A11
- Apostolic Constitution On Catholic Universities
- The Associated Press, "At Catholic university, conservatives feel silenced", The Berkeley Daily Planet (March 25, 2001)
- Pamela Schaeffer,"Down to the wire: the mandatum debate - license to teach Catholic theology", National Catholic Reporter (June 15, 2001)
- Humanae Vitae: Encyclical Letter of His Holiness Pope Paul VI, Fifteenth Anniversary Commemorative Edition (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, July 1983), prepared by the Rev. Marc Caligari, S.J., "on the occasion of the symposium of July, 1978, sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco and by the St. Ignatius Institute of the University of San Francisco commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Encyclical's promulgation," p. 4
- "Letter of The Holy Father Paul VI, signed by the Secretary of State, to Msgr. John Raphael Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco", 21 July 1978
- "Humanae Vitae's Tenth Anniversary", Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter, 1:4 (Sept. 1978) p.2
- E. Leiva-Merikakis, "Cult, Culty, and Cultic," The Foghorn, March 6, 1987
- Obit. by Marjorie Mader, "People: Louise M. Davies remembered for her generosity; longtime Woodside resident was benefactor of the symphony," The Almanac (July 01, 1998)
- Don Lattin, "Pope's help sought in theology class at USF/School protests over orthodox institute", San Francisco Chronicle (Mar. 28, 2001)
- "Father Fessio Fired", Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter, 10:4 (Sept. 1987) p.10]
- "SI Institute: Complex Tapestry," USF Monday Bulletin (Dec. 7, 1987); cf.Obituary: Robert L Maloney, San Francisco Chronicle, 2007-8-25
- "Conservative St. Ignatius Institute revamped", National Catholic Reporter Feb. 16, 2001; cf. "History of Ignatius Press," at Ignatius Insight
- "USF school paper changes editors." National Catholic Register, May 29, 1988
- Stanley Kurtz, "Save NEH, Save St. Ignatius: Battles in the war," National Review Online (Feb. 12, 2001): "In fact, several years ago, SII added the Koran, the Analects of Confucius, and the Hindu Ramayana to its great books curriculum."
- George Neumayr,"Faithful Jesuit Told to Leave USF," San Francisco Faith, 1998
- See bio
- Keilholtz, Erik (2004). "Just Something Unfortunate: What Happened to Campion College". San Francisco Faith. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- Michael Torre, “A Fellowship Founded on Truth: The History of the Saint Ignatius Institute,” in Truth Matters: Essays in Honor of Jacques Maritain (Catholic U. Press: Washington D.C, 2004), 66-75.
- Tom Hoopes,"The Late, Great St. Ignatius Institute", National Catholic Register, February 18–24, 2001
Mary Beth Bonacci, "The Demise of the St. Ignatius Institute",Arlington Catholic Herald, Feb. 8, 2001
"Review of Daniel Guernsey's Adoration (Ignatius Press, 1999)," in Catholic Business Journal "Guernsey, a '...graduate of the University of San Francisco's St. Ignatius Institute, which he credits for introducing him to the splendor of Catholic thought and wisdom.'" catholicbusinessjournal.biz
- "University president responds to critics", National Catholic Reporter,February 23, 2001
- "At Catholic university, conservatives feel silenced" The Associated Press, March 25, 2001
- Stanley Kurtz, "Fighting Back: The struggle to keep a great-books program marks a turning point", National Review Online March 19, 2001
- "Save Liberal Education, Save Saint Ignatius Institute". Guest Comment. National Review. 2001-03-19. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
- "University president responds to critics", National Catholic Reporter (February 23, 2001)
- "President Meets with Ignatius Institute Students," USF News, 10:6 (Feb. 21, 2001)
- Philip F. Lawler, "One Piece Missing: A new Catholic institution emerges—with a painful birth",Catholic World Report, April 2002
- Letter to University of San Francisco President From Congregation for Catholic Education, Jan. 25, 2002, published on website of Archdiocese of San Francisco
- "Vatican Sides with USF in St Ignatius Institute Dispute", Jesuit USA News, Mar. 8, 2002
- Joe Marti, "Not Without a Fight: What Did the Pope Say About USF?", San Francisco Faith, 2002
"Conservative St. Ignatius Institute revamped", National Catholic Reporter Feb. 16, 2001
- University of San Francisco (USF) - Faculty & Staff
- Lagan, Irene (2003-10-23). "Campion College Offers Catholic Alternative". Arlington Catholic Herald. Retrieved 2007-09-26.[dead link]; cf. Monika K. Hellwig, "President's Letter,", Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities Update, 32:2 (2004): "Campion College of San Francisco is beginning a similar east coast two-year liberal arts college, Campion College of Washington, DC. This is a 64-credit tightly integrated program in western intellectual history."
- Stanley Kurtz, "Firing Fessio: The fight for Campion College is now the fight for the soul of higher education in America", National Review Online (Mar. 13, 2002): "Yet Campion College and its curriculum are virtually identical to the curriculum of the...St. Ignatius Institute."
- J. Smith, "Campion College celebrates inaugural graduation", Catholic San Francisco (May 28, 2004)
- Christopher Zehnder, "Fessio Exiled: Jesuits Shun Invitation to Support New College", San Francisco Faith, 2002
- Cooperman, Alan (2007-03-25). "Magnate's Decisions Stir Controversy; Ave Maria University's Beginning Is Marked by Tension of Provost's Firing". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
- "Top Ave Maria official dismissed", Naples Daily News (Mar. 21, 2007)
- "'I know we didn’t see eye-to-eye on things liturgically,' Fessio said," in Liam Dillon, "High-profile priest on inside and outside of life at Ave Maria," Naples Daily News (April 12, 2008); for other accounts of the liturgical rift, see: Brian Mershon, "Chaos erupts at Ave Maria University after Fr. Fessio firing; McCaffrey: Traditionalist Catholics need not apply", Renew America, Apr. 3, 2007
- Cf., Tom Hoopes, "The Late, Great St. Ignatius Institute," National Catholic Register (2001)
- James Harrison, et al., The University of San Francisco Don, 1984-1985, p. 132.
- "Robert de Lobkowicz, Prince, 26," New York Times, Nov. 1, 1988
- New York Times, May 8, 1984
- Michael D. Shear, "Former Bush Scribe To Thompson's Staff," Washington Post (Aug. 23, 2007)
- George Neumayr, "Exile: Faithful Jesuit Told to Leave USF," San Francisco Faith (1998)
- Tom Hoopes, "A People Not Adrift, Part 1," in National Catholic Register (April 15, 2008)
- Catholic News Service, "John Norton named editor of Our Sunday Visitor weekly newspaper (Dec. 20, 2007)
- Wayne A. Holst, "In first book as pope, Benedict seeks to enrich views on Jesus," The Tidings Online (May 18, 2007); S. Suwandi, et al., The University of San Francisco Don, 1990, p. 42
- Accepted invitation to speak at 1978 Humanae Vitae symposium, but prevented by illness from attending; cf. "Humanae Vitae's Tenth Anniversary," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter, 1:4 (Sept., 1978) p.3; subsequently addressed a class at SII
- "Cornelius M. Buckley (1973-2000) Professor of History, Emeritus, B.A., Santa Clara University, 1950; M.A., Gonzaga University, 1952; S.L.T., Alma College, 1959; S.T.D., The Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, 1963." USF Catalog
- Cornelius M. Buckley,When Jesuits Were Giants: Louis-Marie Ruellan, S.J., 1846-1885 and His Contemporaries. Ignatius Press, 1999
- Campus Chaplains Fr. Cornelius M. Buckley, S. J.: Biography
- Listed as lecturer in SII in University of San Francisco 1984-85 Catalog, p. 391, and in various other editions
- "Dr. Coulson, St. Ignatius Inst.", in University of San Francisco, The Don 1984-1985, eds. J. Harrison et al., (San Francisco: 1985), p. 25.
- "Dr. William R. Coulson," at Culture Shock
- C. Cress, MSW, "A False Sense of Entitlement," Understanding the Causes of Financial Elder Abuse Aging Peter Pans Target Parents with Fiscal Abuse, p.3
- "Meet Dr. Bill Coulson: Thoughts from the man who, together with Carl Rogers, pioneered the practice of "encounter groups," in Issues, Etc., ed. Don Matzat; George Neumayr, "Mad Scientists Rogerian Theories Hurt Religious Orders, Says Local Psychologist," San Francisco Faith (Nov. 1997)
- Addressed 1978 Humanae Vitae symposium; cf. "Humanae Vitae's Tenth Anniversary," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter, 1:4 (Sept., 1978) p.3, and lectured the SII summer program in Europe, 1987
- Listed as lecturer in SII in University of San Francisco 1984-85 Catalog, p. 399, and in various other editions
- St. Ignatius Institute, Newsletter of the St. Ignatius Institute, approx. 7 vol. (1976–2000)
- Cornelius M. Buckley (former SII chaplain and professor), "The Saint Ignatius Institute: A traditional Catholic College," America March 25, 1978
- J. Card. Villot, Letter of The Holy Father Paul VI, Signed by the Secretary of State, to Msgr. John Raphael Quinn, Archbishop of San Francisco, Friday, 21 July 1978: on "the Symposium commemorating the tenth anniversary of “Humanae Vitae” sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the University of San Francisco." vatican.va
- Raymond Dennehy (former SII professor), "Is a Catholic University a "Contradition in Terms"? The Mission of the Catholic University," New Oxford Review, Sept. 1980
- James Hitchock, The Pope and the Jesuits: John Paul II and the new order in the Society of Jesus (National Committee of Catholic Laymen, 1984): discusses Fr. Fessio and SII
- Joseph Fessio, S.J., "Admittance of Women to Service at the Altar as Acolytes and Lectors," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Newsletter 11:2 (March 1988) pp. 14–16
- Leiva-Merikakis, Erasmo, "Louis Bouyer the Theologian," Communio 16, no. 2 (1989): 257-76.
- Cornelius Buckley, S.J., "Conscientious Objector: A Jesuit resists forced membership in a faculty union," Crisis Magazine, Oct. 1990
- John R. Dunlap, "The Translator's Vision: USF Professor Erasmo Leiva," San Francisco Faith, 1998 (about former SII professor) sffaith.com
- William Casement, "Whither the great books?" in Academic Questions 15:4 (Sept. 2002) 36-51: discusses success of Great Books curricula and references the SII
- Larry Witham, "Pope intervenes in San Francisco campus dispute," The Washington Times, March 25, 2001
- Kelly Yamanouchi, "Students, staff protest consolidation of Jesuit institute," The Washington Times, March 31, 2001
- "New SII Director Embodies Catholic Intellectual Tradition, Ignatian Spirituality," USF News, The Newspaper for the Campus Community, 10:8 (April 11, 2001)
- Don Lattin, "USF institute's fate divides hierarchy: SF archbishop discusses Vatican's concerns," San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 2001
- John L. Allen, Jr., "Institute defenders reach pope," National Catholic Register, July 29, 2001
- Adrea Billups, "USF trustees urged to ax president's reorganization," The Washington Times, 2001
- Paul Likoudis, "USF President Suppresses St. Ignatius Institute," The Wanderer, Feb. 1, 2001
- Jake Vollebregt, "Second Thoughts," National Catholic Register 77:7 (Feb. 18, 2001)
- St. Ignatius Institute, University of San Francisco
- University of San Francisco
- The San Francisco Foghorn
- National Association of Scholars, List of Great Books Programs