Growth is good among Catholic colleges

Seven Catholic colleges and universities were among the nation’s largest schools, and five are among the fastest growing, according the the 2012-2013 Almanac published Aug. 31 by The Chronicle of Higher Education. The annual Almanac uses reports on diverse academic situations such as enrollments, faculty and staff size and salaries and tuition based on data through the end of the last academic ending in 2011.

Benedictine University is the fastest-growing research institution in the U.S., according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s 2012-2013 Almanac. (Photo from Benedictine University)

In the top 20 private doctoral universities, DePaul University in Chicago is the country’s largest Catholic campus with 25,145 students enrolled. It is followed by St. John’s University in New York with 21,354 students. St. Louis University’s main campus is third largest with 17,709 students, and Georgetown University is the fourth with 16,937.

Among the 20 largest campuses of master’s-level universities, Saint Leo University is the largest Catholic campus with 15,565 students enrolled. It’s followed by Regis University in Denver with 11,069 students and Pennsylvania’s Villanova University with 10,605.

While Catholic colleges and universities educate thousands of graduate and undergraduate students across the country, they are dwarfed by public institutions. According to the Almanac, “nearly twice as many students were enrolled in the 20 largest public doctoral universities as were enrolled in the 20 largest private ones.”

But Catholic colleges are enjoying impressive growth, even in a sluggish economy. Four Catholic were among the top 20 fastest growing research institutions in the U.S. from 2000-2010. Benedictine University in Illinois is the fastest growing campus in the nation jumping up a whopping 142.5 percent to 6,892 students. Immaculata University in Pennsylvania grew by 52.5 percent to 4,456 students. New York’s St. John Fisher College  grew almost as fast by 46.6 percent to 4,020 students.  And Georgetown University grew by 35.7 percent to its 16,937 enrollment.
Among the top 20 private master’s institutions, Saint Joseph’s College in New York  expanded enrollment by an amazing 336.5 percent to 5,897.

All enrollment figures include full-time and part-time graduate and undergraduate students.

The last interview

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who died Friday, was an eminent biblical scholar and former archbishop of Milan. As portrayed in the media, he was also the hierarchy’s most prominent liberal on a number of questions, including the church’s teaching on human sexuality. That reputation was reinforced over the weekend when the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera published the cardinal’s last interview, making headlines around the world (including here and here).

In the interview, granted less than a month before his death, the cardinal lamented that the church was “200 years behind” the times, with an “aged” culture enervated by its material wealth in Europe and America, and attached to “pompous” rites and externals, while suffering a lack of vocations and of “heroes” such as the late Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador.

Asked what the church could do to overcome these problems, Cardinal Martini recommended that Pope Benedict make unconventional appointments — “men close to the poorest people and surrounded by young people and who experience new things” — to key leadership posts in the Vatican.

The cardinal also said that the clerical sex abuse scandal should lead the pope and the hierarchy to take up a “radical path of change,” including rethinking unspecified elements of the church’s teaching on sexual morality, which the cardinal suggested now falls largely on deaf ears. He stressed the importance of ordinary Catholics knowing the Bible. And he argued for relaxing strictures against divorced and remarried persons receiving the Eucharist.

Catholics will differ over whether Cardinal Martini’s thinking on such matters was ahead of its time or representative of an era that has passed. But as attested by the tributes of the last few days — from Pope Benedict and other dignitaries, as well the ordinary mourners who filed past the cardinal’s body at the rate of 6,000 an hour — Cardinal Martini was a figure who commanded love and respect that transcended disagreements over even the most contentious issues.

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