Blessed John Henry Newman
Three Australian vice-chancellors have publicly admitted that Cardinal Newman's treatise The Idea of a University were driving change in their institutions.
At a symposium last week at the University of Melbourne to celebrate Newman's beatification by the Pope, Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis spoke strongly about Newman's views, the Australian reports.
"Institutions that challenge knowledge, not just inculcate it, and where students seek not self-knowledge but vocations," Prof Davis said, were a timely challenge to what he saw as Australia's narrow definition of a university as engaged in prescribed levels of research and teaching, the paper reports.
He noted that under national protocols for higher education, Newman's university would be banned. "The next big policy debate . . . is about whether having a single type of university has served us well or whether we should be encouraging much greater diversity," he said.
Monash University's Ed Byrne invoked Newman's emphasis on education when he said talented educators had been held back by the sector's reliance on research output as the measure of performance. "I can't see how passing over contributions to education and learning can fail to harm the intellectual life of a university," Professor Byrne said.
Australian Catholic University vice-chancellor Greg Craven drew on Newman's idea of a university based on a particular view, be it the Catholic faith or secular liberalism or something else, as a source for diversity. "All universities live within their own truths and value systems and the only question is which," he said.
Vice-chancellors move to cultivate cardinal virtues in students (The Australian)
Portrait by Jane Fortescue Seymour, on Wikimedia Commons