An Invitation from Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR
As a Catholic university, Franciscan University promotes the complete integration of knowledge founded upon the dialogue between faith and reason in the search for truth. In his apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II wrote that the “vital interaction of two distinct levels of coming to know the one truth leads to a greater love for truth itself, and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the meaning of human life and of the purpose of God’s creation.”
At Franciscan University, we offer an academically excellent education rooted in passionate Catholicism and the search for truth that prepares our students to meet the challenges of the secular world. Always faithful to the magisterium, we continue to be strengthened and guided in all we do by the vision of St. Francis of Assisi’s love for the Church.
I invite you to experience Franciscan University, where faith and reason combine to form an educational experience unlike any other, helping you become the person God created you to be.
Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, JD, JCD President, Franciscan University of Steubenville
About Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR
The Board of Trustees selected Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, as the sixth president of Franciscan University of Steubenville on April 19, 2013, and he began serving as president on June 1.
Father Sean served as assistant professor in the School of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America from 2009 until he joined Franciscan University’s Theology Department as a professor in fall 2012, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses. A member of the Board of Trustees of Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, since 2010, he also held a position on the Franciscan University Board of Trustees from 2007-2012, working on the Student Life Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee, which he chaired from 2011-2012.
Before he entered the Franciscan Third Order Regular, he graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of science in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. In 1990, he earned his juris doctor from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and spent the next 10 years as a practicing attorney in Sacramento and Pittsburgh, focusing on healthcare litigation, primarily with the representation of hospitals and physicians.
The Cresson, Pennsylvania, native entered the Franciscan Third Order Regular in 2000 and made his solemn profession of vows in 2005. He was ordained to the priesthood in December 2006. In 2007, Father Sean graduated from Washington Theological Union with his master of divinity. That same year, he also obtained his license in canon law from The Catholic University of America School of Canon Law. In 2009, he obtained a doctorate in canon law from The Catholic University of America School of Canon Law. His dissertation, “Ex Corde Ecclesiae: A Canonical Commentary on Catholic Universities ‘From the Heart of the Church’ to Catholic Universities,” addresses seven challenges to the implementation of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities and suggests solutions to those issues.
A Brief Overview of Franciscan University of Steubenville
In the spirit of authentic, Catholic higher education, Franciscan University of Steubenville emphasizes the formation of strong, moral character and critical thinking. Our enrollment of approximately 2,500 attracts students from all 50 states and over a dozen foreign countries.
Franciscan University is proud of its alumni, students, and faculty who play key roles in both public and religious sectors of society. They are examples of Christian character, charity, and competence in business, psychology, education, research, ecclesial service, athletics, health care, and medicine. Regional reunions and our University magazine keep the University and its staff in close contact with Franciscan University graduates.
In the year 1182, in the little town of Assisi, near Perugia, Italy, a son was born to a rich merchant named Pietro Bernadone. His baptismal name was Giovanni, “John,” but his father renamed him Francesco, “Frenchman,” because Pietro was fond of France.
As a youth, Francesco eagerly exercised chivalry and arms, and while taking part in one of the petty feuds of the day, he was imprisoned at Perugia for a year.
While in Perugia, Francesco became ill, and after being released from prison, he spent much of his time in contemplation. Soon he renounced his former way of life and went on a pilgrimage to Rome in 1206. Thereafter, Francis, as he was now known, renounced his considerable inheritance, broke with his family, and consecrated himself to poverty and a religious life.
No humiliation, no self-sacrifice was too great. He refused any but the simplest clothing—a single gray tunic of coarse woolen cloth belted at the waist by a rope—and begged for alms at the gates of monasteries. He served the leper colony at Gubbio for some time and later worked with his own hands in rebuilding the churches of St. Damian and St. Mary of the Angels.
Francis founded the Franciscan Order in 1208. The irresistible gentleness of the Franciscan spirit soon swept throughout Europe, and when the first general assembly of the Order was held in 1219, some 5,000 friars were present.
Few groups had such a moderating influence on the turbulent times. Teaching, preaching, and helping the poor were only part of their work. Led by St. Francis, the friars recorded much of the history of the times and made valuable contributions to literature and theological writings.
The purpose of Franciscan 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.
It is 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 is guided by the example and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. To accomplish this mission, the University embraces the following general policies:
Intellectual and Faith Community: The specific vocation of a student is intellectual development.
Evangelization: Through academic and co-curricular programs, the University promotes the ongoing and deepening of life in the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Church.
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.
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.
Good Stewardship: The University recognizes that its greatest resources are its people and pledges to treat each person with dignity and respect.
These five general policies are the basis for many specific policies, including:
Academic: The University 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 to promote liberal arts education and the importance of theological studies and basic philosophy. The University also promotes responsible academic freedom which includes observance of the 1940 AAUP statement.
Student Life: The University desires all its programs to be guided by the law of love. Specifically, the University welcomes entertainment and recreational activities that build up the lives of those involved; promotes participation in physical health programs and athletic activities; promotes personal and spiritual development, particularly through faith households; provides, within its means, counseling and other support services as appropriate; supports Christian morality and respect for life; embraces a Catholic worldview; encourages service off campus to the poor as an essential part of a student’s educational experience.
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 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.
Though Franciscan University of Steubenville now enjoys a strong international reputation, its beginnings were as unassuming as its patron saint. Francis of Assisi’s simple life, self-sacrifice, and service to others have inspired many believers throughout the centuries – especially the founders, faculty, and staff of the University, who are guided by his example and teaching.
In 1946, soon after the end of World War II, Steubenville’s first bishop, John King Mussio, invited the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular to establish a college to serve the needs of local students, especially veterans of World War II. After looking over available facilities, the friars purchased the Knights of Pythias Building in downtown Steubenville in June 1946. With no guarantees except that of moral support, the friars invested $350,000 in what would prove to be a great educational venture. As the College of Steubenville’s enrollment grew, other buildings were purchased or leased, until it became evident that proper expansion required enough land for a permanent campus. In 1953, the friars purchased a 40-acre tract on a site overlooking the city of Steubenville.
From the beginning, the College produced men and women of faith whose moral, spiritual, and intellectual formation enabled them to provide exemplary leadership in their careers, communities, and churches, and as parents, priests, or religious. Six presidents have shaped the University into an internationally recognized, Christ-centered institution: Father Daniel W. Egan, TOR, Father Kevin Keelan, TOR (1959-62; 1969-74), Father Columba S. Devlin, TOR, Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, Father Terence Henry, TOR, and Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, the College nearly failed. Reeling from the social and cultural upheavals that rocked schools nationwide, the College found itself facing a serious identity crisis and declining enrollment. Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, who became president in 1974, helped restore the institution to the Catholic, Franciscan vision of its founders.
The College achieved university status in 1980, changing its name to Franciscan University of Steubenville in 1985. During its 72 years of existence, the University has grown to a 249-acre campus with 25 buildings plus student apartments and a study abroad program in Gaming, Austria. It now educates almost 2,500 students each year who come from 50 states and 14 countries. The University also reaches over 48,000 other Catholics through its 25 annual adult and youth conferences.
Though a relatively young institution, Franciscan University has achieved national recognition from a variety of sources, including Kiplinger Personal Finance Magazine’s top 100 “best values” in private higher education, National Review’s Guide to America’s Top Liberal Arts Schools, Young America’s Top Ten Conservative Colleges, Barron’s Best Buys in College Education, The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, FORBE’S America’s Top Colleges, and U.S. News & World Report’s Guide to America’s Best Colleges.
Franciscan University’s growth from just 258 students in 1946 to nearly 2,500 students today is evidence of the faith of its Franciscan friars, the leadership of its presidents, and the determination of its trustees, advisors, faculty, and staff.
We commend you for becoming part of the Franciscan tradition of quality higher education. We look forward to preparing students like you for the challenges of the twenty-first century—and beyond.