The Mission of Franciscan University of Steubenville
A statement of purpose, commitment, and policy highlighting the distinguishing marks of the University.
“The purpose of the Corporation [University] is to further the higher education of men and women through programs of liberal, professional, and pre-professional studies leading to the conferral of the baccalaureate and master degrees in arts and sciences. Said degrees shall be conferred in accordance with the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation of the University and the laws of the State of Ohio.”
“It shall be the further purpose of the University, publicly identified as a Catholic and a Franciscan institution, to promote the moral, spiritual, and religious values of its students. The University will be guided by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi.” (Bylaws)
- “to further the higher education of men and women”
- “through programs of liberal, professional, and pre-professional studies leading to the conferral of the baccalaureate and master degrees in arts and sciences”
- “the further purpose of the University publicly identified as a Catholic and a Franciscan institution”
- “to promote the moral, spiritual, and religious values of its students”
- “guided by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi”
II. GENERAL POLICIES
- Intellectual and Faith Community
- Dynamic Orthodoxy
- Christian Maturity
- Good Stewardship
III. PROGRAM POLICIES
- Student Life
IV. STATEMENT OF CONVICTIONS
Franciscan University Mission and Application
I. BYLAWS: “The purpose of the Corporation [University] is to further the higher education of men and women through programs of liberal, professional, and pre-professional studies leading to the conferral of the baccalaureate and master degrees in the arts and sciences. Said degrees shall be conferred in accordance with the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation of the University and the laws of the State of Ohio.”
“It shall be the further purpose of the University, publicly identified as a Catholic and a Franciscan institution, to promote the moral, spiritual, and religious values of its students. The University will be guided by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi.”1
- “to further the higher education of men and women” The University is thereby committed:
- to be a teaching-centered institution;
- to provide high-quality programs of instruction;
- to qualify for appropriate standards for accreditation and professional recognition; and
- to provide men and women with equal opportunity and respect.
- “through programs of liberal, professional, and pre-professional studies leading to the conferral of the baccalaureate and master degrees in arts and sciences.”
The University is thereby committed to:
- what is fully liberating in freeing students from ignorance, prejudice, and false philosophies that impede a discovery of truth that makes one “free indeed” (Jn 8:36); this necessarily mandates a required program of general studies including an atmosphere promoting the seeking, presentation, and transmission of knowledge from one generation to another.
- what is selected from professional fields as appropriate, compatible with, and based on the study of liberal arts.
- what is pre-professional in preparing students to continue in professional schools through programs that are predominantly liberal arts in nature.
- “the further purpose of the University publicly identified as a Catholic and a Franciscan institution”
The University is thereby committed to:
- being truly Catholic in its full submission to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, thereby teaching as true what that teaching authority teaches as true, rejecting all propositions contrary to those truths, and promoting thereby all the truths of revelation whether found in Scripture or Tradition as taught by the Catholic Church. This necessarily mandates a primacy for theological studies. “Theology plays a particularly import- ant role in the search for a synthesis of knowledge as well as in the dialogue between faith and reason. It serves all other disciplines in their search for meaning, not only by helping them to investigate how their discoveries will affect individuals and society but also by bringing a perspective and an orientation not contained within their own methodologies.”2 The University also holds a basic Christian tenet that human reason can reach absolutely valid conclusions unaided by divine grace. The University, however, rejects rationalism, while holding an absolute harmony between supernatural truth through revelation and truth perceived by the unaided human reason. This is so, despite difficulties in arriving at some truths, as John Henry Cardinal Newman stated, “Ten thousand difficulties do not justify a single doubt.” Because of the importance of this proposition, the University gives a special priority to philosophical education.
- being Franciscan in the spirit of St. Francis who imitated Jesus Christ and in giving special prominence to the Franciscan theologians, philosophers, and spiritual writers in academic and spiritual programs.
- being ecumenical. The University respects all other churches and ecclesial communities and religious bodies in accordance with the standards of the Second Vatican Council documents and will support students, faculty, and staff belonging to them as long as their activities do not directly oppose or undermine the mission of the University. “Non-Catholic members are required to respect the Catholic character of the University while the University in turn respects their religious liberty.”3 Those who are not Catholic are welcome to partake in the full life of the University and are assured that the dignity of each individual and the right to free will decisions in matters of faith are respected. “(T)he right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed Word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized. . .”4 The University with the entire Church “longs that there may be one visible Church of God, a Church truly universal and sent forth to the whole world that the world may be converted to the Gospel and so be saved, to the glory of God.”5
- “to promote the moral, spiritual, and religious values of its students” The University is thereby committed to:
- balance and complete the teaching of truth with all appropriate means to enable students to live dynamic Christian lives, as men and women of virtue, pursuing holiness and growth in love based on the rich heritage of Catholic Christian tradition. The University is to be characterized by an unconditional and joyful acceptance of Christian Revelation wherein and thereby Jesus Christ is established as Savior and Lord over all.
- promote vocations of consecration and sacrifice, which include priesthood, religious life , lay apostolates, preferential service of the poor, and the reverencing of marriage and family life. Chastity is proclaimed as the glorious victory over fallen nature, giving a true understanding of sex as an expression of spousal love.
- promote individual choice of a way of life based on Jesus as “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6) thereby assisting each student to establish priorities and life commitments that reflect all that is true and all that is life-giving, flowing from the life, charisms, and grace of the Holy Spirit that makes us “strong, loving, and wise” (2 Tim. 1:7).
- oppose all arbitrary discrimination but recognize differences based upon a Gospel view of life as interpreted within the Catholic Tradition.
- conform its liturgical and spiritual programs in accordance with Catholic Church teaching and Tradition especially as expressed in the documents of Vatican Council II, recognizing that the Sacred Liturgy is the summit and source from which all the Church’s power flows.6
- endorse the constant teaching of the Catholic Church to avoid all unnecessary proximate occasions of sin and pledge itself not to be a party to promoting such occasions.
- give special emphasis to the development of leaders for Christ and the Church through teaching programs and experiential learning situations. Our students should “realize the responsibility of their professional life, the enthusiasm of being the trained ‘leaders’ of tomorrow, of being witnesses to Christ in whatever place they may exercise their profession.”7
- “guided by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi”
The University is thereby committed to placing special emphasis on the Word of God in Scripture, the Incarnation, the Cross of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, Our Lady, and the saints as signs and sources of holiness. These aspects of the Christian life are manifested in:
- an emphasis on Sacred Scripture as the soul of theology in teaching and an emphasis on the words of Scripture for preaching and prayer.
- a priority of the Cross, visible throughout the campus, particularly the San Damiano Cross as the sign under which all activity of University life is placed.
- an emphasis on Eucharistic Liturgy daily with a special solemnity on Sunday and an emphasis on prayer and ongoing adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Portiuncula Chapel as the heart of the campus.
- an emphasis on the great mercy of God as expressed in the Incarnation and seen so clearly in the birth of Our Savior in the manger and manifested in the lives of Mary, the Mother of God, and the saints.
- a witnessing of Franciscan life as established in the tradition of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis. These qualities of contemplation, poverty, minority, and conversion are to be especially manifested by the friars serving the University and are to be promoted by them in all their apostolic endeavors. Appropriate instruction and opportunity for contemplation shall be available to all. A preference for the poor, the oppressed, and the suffering shall be present in both on-campus and off-campus activities. Simplicity of life in regard to material things should be modeled and encouraged. Most of all the charism of ongoing conversion shall be a hallmark of preaching, conferences, and spiritual direction. The friars shall first embrace humbly their task of seeking ongoing conversion and formation and then shall foster this spirit and wisdom in all whom they serve, especially by preaching, spiritual direction, and the sacrament of reconciliation. The President, designated in the Bylaws the “Spiritual Leader” of the University, assumes responsibility to oversee the above commitments, and furthermore, in accordance with the Rule of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis, he shall, “promise obedience and reverence to the pope and the Holy Catholic Church.”8
II. GENERAL POLICIES: In order to accomplish this above mission, the University recognizes that the following general policies are essential:
- Intellectual and Faith Community. The specific vocation of a student is intellectual development. This is what distinguishes a student from those in other walks of life. A Christian student is one who concentrates on intellectual development through studies while integrating faith and learning in and out of the classroom. Therefore, at this University there is no artificial separation of the intellectual and the faith life, though grading in courses will be based solely on academic performance.
- Evangelization. The University has established a policy to promote, through academic and co-curricular programs, the ongoing and deepening of life in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Church. The University is to be a “a living institutional witness to Christ and his message . . . education (is) offered in a faith-context that forms men and women capable of rational and critical judgment and conscious of the transcendent dignity of the human person,” as well as “professional training that incorporates ethical values and a sense of service to individuals and to society.”9 Therefore, those optional programs, events, and activities that foster such spiritual enhancement are given special consideration and those programs, events, and activities that contradict and undermine evangelization are excluded.
- Dynamic Orthodoxy. The University has embraced this concept as a policy standard for its life, thereby striving to promote and maintain a balanced commitment to truth and life in its faith community. The Way, the Truth, and the Life are fundamental concepts and guidelines for evaluating University priorities, staffing, and budgets and are understood as explicating dynamic orthodoxy. A way of life is promoted based on Christian truths as they are understood in light of Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Catholic Church while always allowing for the development of the Church’s understanding of Revelation. These truths are lived out through the power and the gifts of the Holy Spirit emanating from the personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, “let there be unity in what is necessary, freedom in what is unsettled, and charity in any case.”10
- Christian Maturity. The University recognizes that its ultimate purpose is to graduate men and women who are able to take a mature, responsible approach to life. Therefore, the University commits itself to giving priority to that approach in evangelization and dynamic orthodoxy as well as in its rules and policies for student conduct that best fosters individual ownership of Christian values including growth in love and an increase in the exercise of self-responsibility. Each person is ultimately responsible for his or her own development and is treated with dignity and worth in light of an ongoing personal developmental process.
- Good Stewardship. The University recognizes that its greatest resources are its people and pledges to treat each person with dignity and respect. The University also recognizes that its revenues come from student tuition, with government support when appropriate, and the free-will giving of benefactors, and that all of these resources ultimately come from God’s providence. Therefore, the University commits itself to careful and prudent expenditure of these resources. It will not deliberately incur any debt unless there is a reasoned belief that the means to pay the debt will be forthcoming in the proximate future.
III. PROGRAM POLICIES: These five general policies are the basis for many specific policies, the most important of which follow:
- The University in its purpose is a teaching institution, which values research primarily for advancing the scholarship of the faculty.
- The University requires some specific courses and some balanced selection of courses in order to promote liberal arts education and the importance of theological studies and basic philosophy . “Each discipline is taught systematically and according to its own methods. Interdisciplinary studies, assisted by a careful and thorough study of philosophy and theology, enable students to acquire an organic vision of reality and to develop a continuing desire for intellectual progress.”11
- The University promotes responsible academic freedom, which includes observance of the 1940 AAUP statement. Franciscan University encourages the faculty, in their teaching function, to address all material relevant to their subject matter but, as specified in the Faculty Handbook, opposes the promotion of propositions and values contrary to Catholic teaching. This in no way impinges on true academic freedom, as the Catholic Church accepts all that is true and rejects all that is false.
- Student Life.
- The University desires all its programs to be guided by the law of love, which builds true community among its members, respects the honor and dignity of each individual, and reaches out in merciful love to the deprived. At the same time, all its programs respect the primary vocational commitment of students to the intellectual life through academic development.
- The University welcomes entertainment and recreational activities that upbuild the lives of those involved but opposes such activity when it promotes immorality, glorifies sin, or places students in compromising positions violating Christian modesty.
- The University promotes participation in physical health programs and athletic activities as desirable for its students and relegates spectatorship to lesser importance.
- The University promotes personal and spiritual development through group activities, particularly faith households. It opposes those social groupings that impede personal or spiritual development. It requires all social and co-curricular organizations to promote the common good of the University and its members. No club or organization has a right to exist or function on campus unless it has the explicit written permission of the Vice President for Academic Affairs or the Vice President of Student Life of the University and any approved organization may have its approval immediately withdrawn upon evidence that it has violated these standards as specified in the Student Handbook.
- The University provides, within its means, counseling and other support services appropriate to assist student participation in University life, but the University expects that serious and long-range problems will be cared for through resources outside the University.
- The University supports Christian morality and respect for life and will not endorse or support any group or activity that in any way promotes immorality between or within the sexes or promotes abortion, suicide, euthanasia, or any related sinful practice.
- The University embraces a Catholic worldview respecting and incorporating diverse cultures into its life and encouraging cross-cultural experience as a positive educational value for all, both at its main campus and abroad.
- The University encourages service off campus to the poor and needy as an essential part of students’ educational experience and as an opportunity to experience the Franciscan charism of service to the poor.
- The University believes that its mission extends to teaching beyond the matriculating student body and will engage in such teaching particularly when it furthers the mission of the University and does not undermine resources available for the care of matriculated students.
- The University will endeavor to acquire such financial resources to enable qualified students in proven financial need to enroll. The University cannot guarantee that such resources will be available but does commit itself to give 10 percent of its ordinary revenues for financial aid purposes and to seek endowment and other gifts for financial aid purposes.
- The University desires to make its education available to minorities, especially those most compatible with its mission, that is, those of the Catholic faith. It will endeavor, within its resources, to reach out with special assistance to these students.
- The University commits itself to a special emphasis to serve the Steubenville region and its constituents in outreach efforts and to work cooperatively with local leaders toward these ends.
- The University commits itself to the Church’s mission of evangelization and spiritual renewal especially through its Christian Outreach Office and other out- reach activities for youth and adults. These are a vital part of the University’s very identity as a Catholic, Franciscan institution and are both a fruit of its life and an instrument of its own interior renewal as an academic institution. Through catechetical programs and inspired preaching, the University seeks to contribute to the “ongoing formation of the lay faithful” as well as the spiritual renewal of clergy and religious.12 The University seeks to be open to the gifts and action of the Holy Spirit as expressed in various Church renewal movements.
- The University commits itself to an ethic of hospitality whereby visitors are welcomed whenever their presence does not undermine the mission of the University. Furthermore, the University shall endeavor to serve outsiders with academic studies, co-curricular programs, and spiritual nourishment when it does not divert needed resources from its primary mission.
IV. STATEMENT OF CONVICTIONS: In response to this mission, in 1983 the faculty, student representatives, administrators, and governing boards unanimously endorsed 10 points of conviction to guide planning the future development of the University:
- That the soundest preparation for a fully human personal and professional life is a Christian liberal arts education, including a program of general studies, a special emphasis on theology, and a major field of study.
- That its students should be brought to an understanding and appreciation of the depth and richness of the Catholic Tradition in its diverse manifestations.
- That it is obligated to promote the pursuit of intellectual excellence within an atmosphere of responsible academic freedom.
- That it has an obligation to proclaim and promote Christian moral, spiritual, and religious values to its students and constituency at large.
- That it has the responsibility to support and promote those programs and opportunities that strengthen personal and interpersonal Christian growth and maturity and to oppose the current trend of materialism and selfish individualism.
- That it should provide such graduate programs as are consistent with its mission and within its resources.
- That it should promote interaction with all its alumni, including its conference alumni.
- That it should take an active part in aspects of the life of the local community and, in particular, in meeting local needs to the extent they are consistent with its mission and resources.
- That it must exercise high standards of responsibility and, therefore, good stewardship in securing and caring for all resources, especially human resources, that are necessary for its mission.
- Therefore, the administration, faculty, and staff, in fostering an intellectual and faith community, are obligated to serve, lead, and guide the institution in a manner consistent with its overall mission.
V. CONCLUSION: Finally, the University commits itself to this mission believing that it is promoting a normal, mature, Franciscan, Catholic, Christian way of life for its students. It believes that its norms for both academic and co-curricular development are rooted in long and proven tradition and are as relevant today as they were in times past. The University understands that it proceeds only by God’s mercy, and therefore it commits itself to ongoing prayer so that it may be humble before the face of God and receptive to those graces and blessings it needs to serve this mission.
“The mission that the Church, with great hope, entrusts to Catholic universities holds a cultural and religious meaning of vital importance because it concerns the very future of humanity.” (John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Conclusion)
Ex Corde Ecclesiae – Constitution Faculty Handbook
President’s Council Policies
The Rule and the Life of the Brothers and Sistersof the Third Order Regular of St. Francis Staff Handbook
Statement of Convictions Student Handbook Trustee Policies
- Franciscan University of Steubenville Bylaws, p. 1, Revised 1988.
- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 19: USCC (1990), p. 17.
- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 27: USCC (1990), pp. 22-23.
- Vatican Council II, “Declaration on Religious Freedom” (Dignitatis Humanae), n. 2: ABBOTT (1966), p. 679.
- Vatican Council II, “Decree on Ecumenism” (Unitatis Redintegratio), n. 1: ABBOTT (1966), p. 342.
- Vatican Council II, “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy” (Sacrosanctum Concilium), n. 10: ABBOTT (1966), p. 142.
- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 23: USCC (1990), p. 20.
- Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis.
- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 49: USCC (1990), pp. 35-36.
- Vatican Council II, “Pastoral Constitution on the Church and the Modern World” (Gaudium Et Spes), n. 92: ABBOTT (1966), p. 306.
- John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 20: USCC (1990), p. 18.
- John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Christi Fidelis Laici, n. 57, USCC. (1988), p. 172-173. 23