Catholic colleges going greener every year

College campuses are trying harder all the time to go green and stay there. Sustainable practices help keep universities control waste and cost and teach students the importance of lifelong care of their environment. Every year, the Sierra Club, one of the nation’s chief environmental advocacy organizations, publishes a list of America’s greenest colleges.

While no Catholic university or college made the top 10 list, six ranked in the top 100. They are Loyola Marymount University, No. 26, Santa Clara University, No. 32, Aquinas College (Mich.), No. 41, Seattle University, No. 70, University of Dayton, No. 76, and Marywood University, No. 91.

Colleges were required to self report in a rigorous survey. “To place high, schools had to rock every one of our survey’s categories, from waging war on emissions to serving sustainable foods to teaching a verdant curriculum,” examiners said. “None was perfect.” But out of more than 2,000 U.S. four-year colleges and universities, making the list is a real accomplishment.

‘Rare, beautiful’ work of Jesuit missionaries in China now available on new Boston College website

Illustration depicting Jesuit Father Mateo Ricci, 16-century missionary to China. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

Australian Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, assistant professor at Boston College,has launched a searchable website he calls “Beyond Ricci” that gives scholars and researchers online access to newly digitized books containing historical narratives, maps, correspondence and musical compositions in five languages that depict life in China in early modern history and the East-West exchanges initiated by the early Jesuit missionaries. The site was launched in late July.

“This website takes knowledge and information that is rare and beautiful and puts it into the academic domain providing an interdisciplinary resource for scholars and students of disciplines ranging from history and geography, to Latin and Chinese,” Father Clarke said in a statement.

His project was funded through a grant from the Academic Teaching Advisory Board and the Office of the Provost at Boston College. It was a year in the making, with the priest working with the Jesuitana Collection at the university’s Burns Library.

Father Clarke calls it “a labor of love and an act of homage to my Jesuit brothers and their Chinese counterparts whose remarkable scholarship is preserved in these rare books that will now be available to visitors from Chestnut Hill to Canberra, San Francisco to Shanghai.”

Here’s a sampling of items that can be accessed on the site: melody lines from the Chinese Imperial Court transcribed by the Jesuits in the mid-18th century; a translation of Confucian texts by the Jesuit missionaries that represented the first introduction of Confucius to the Western world; and an extensively detailed 18th-century atlas.

Six Catholic universities make Forbes top 100 list

Statue of founder on University of Notre Dame campus. (CNS photo)

Forbes magazine has issued its annual U.S. college and university rankings. Six Catholic schools made it into the top 100 out of the 650 schools listed this year.

The colleges listed in the top 100 are University of Notre Dame,  No. 12; Boston College, No. 26; Georgetown University, No. 38; College of the Holy Cross, No. 41; University of Santa Clara, No. 72; and Villanova University,  No. 83.

According to Forbes, the rankings list America’s best undergraduate institutions. The list “focuses on educational outcomes, not reputations.” Forbes also looks at the best bang for the undergraduate buck.

Students in action: working for Olympic moment of silence

Students in the Sociology of Sports class at The Catholic University of America have joined a project to try to commemorate the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympic team members at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

In addition to posting this video on YouTube, in December the students wrote Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, and Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London 2012 Organizing Committee, urging a moment of silence during the opening ceremony July 27. CUA President John Garvey supported the students’ letter in his own letter to the officials, dated May 31.

Members of the sociology of sports class at The Catholic University of America advocate one moment of silence during the opening ceremony of the Olympics to commemorate the Munich Massacre. (CNS photo/courtesy of David Bauman, CUA)

In the letter, the students said although they were not born at the time of the massacre, “We are the Sept. 11 generation … we are confident that we have (an) understanding of the magnitude of the attacks that occurred on Sept. 5, 1972.

In their video, the students ask others to sign a petition for the moment of silence.

“This is not about politics, this is not even about religion,” said one student.”This is about 11 victims who lost their lives by an act of terror.”

In 1972, members of the Palestinian group Black September kidnapped the Israeli team members and demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners. The Israelis, a West German police officer and eight members of Black September were killed. Israel is widely believed to have retaliated against those suspected of involvement, beginning with military operations in 1973.

Catholic Charities USA makes top 10 in Philanthropy 400

This week the Chronicle of Philanthropy published it annual Philanthropy 400, those U.S. organizations that raised the most money in the last year. According to reporters Noelle Barton and Holly Hall, who wrote the piece accompanying the list, “America’s big charities expect fundraising to rise in 2011, but the increase won’t come close to making up what they lost in the downturn.”

Philanthropic giving in the U.S. still has yet to recover from the losses in the 2008 recession. Most of this year’s gains, they reported, were seen by international charities that receive in-kind gifts and by community foundations and organizations that receive donated stock.

“When those groups are excluded from analysis, the increase in gifts was flat,” they said.

Catholic or Catholic-related organizations in the Philanthropy 400, their ranking and their total 2010 gifts are:

10. Catholic Charities USA, $793,815,584

15. American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, $659,370,821

51. Catholic Relief Services, $294,287,000

78. University of Notre Dame, 221,615,902

110. Catholic Medical Mission Board, $177,207,054

144. Christian Appalachian Project, (Ky.), $131,586,590

147. Father Flanagan Boys’ Home (Neb.), $130,737,000

159. Boston College, $120,537,000

160. St. Mary’s Food Bank (Ariz.), $119,703,302

214. Georgetown University, $90,858,000

221. Catholic Healthcare West (Calif.), $86,286,000

288. Marquette University, $60,461,194

340. Covenant House, $51,195,438

394. Villanova University, $43,483,000

Catholic institutions that made last year’s list but fell from the top 400 this year are Fordham University, Le Moyne College and St. Louis University.

According to the report, “charities in the Philanthropy 400 are an important bellwether for the state of giving, and how American donors are responding to the bad economy. The nonprofits on the list raise $1 of every $4 contributed to nonprofit causes.”

Rare voice: Flannery O’Connor reads from “Good Man”

Author Flannery O’Connor lingers long in Southern Catholic letters. One of the best-known and strongest Catholic apologists during the 20th century, along with fellow Southerner Walker Percy and only a handful of others, she remains today widely read and taught. She was a prodigious writer of novels, short stories and essays.

Born in Savannah in 1925, of parents from two of Georgia’s oldest Catholic families, she spent the latter part of her life in Milledgeville, Ga., where she struggled with a debilitating disease, systemic lupus erythematosus. Her father had died of it in her youth, and the disease would claim her in 1964 at age 39.

There is an entire academic industry around O’Connor. Next month, Loyola University Chicago will hold a three-day symposium on her life, work and influence on modern Catholic thought.

In New Yorker magazine’s The Book Bench, writer Mark O’Connell posted a blog this week about O’Connor and turned up a rare recording of her reading an excerpt from her acclaimed short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” The reading is from a 1959 writers’ conference at Vanderbilt University.

It is a remarkable find of the voice of a remarkable Catholic writer, possibly the finest of her generation.

Catholic universities, colleges rank well in 2012 US News annual best list

It seems that everyone is in the school-ranking games these days. Indeed, you can’t turn around without getting a top 10 list of everything from movies to animal acts. However, U.S. News and World Report remains the all-time champion of university and college ranking. Academicians love to hate them, but they all check it out.

In the just-published 2012 rankings, the 250 or so American Catholic colleges and universities did well, especially in the liberal arts and regional universities categories. Here they are:

Among the national universities — those that offer a full range of undergraduate and graduate degrees and do grand-breaking research — the University of Notre Dame again led the pack at #19. Georgetown University was next at #22. In the top 100 were Boston College, #31, Fordham University, #53, Marquette University, #82, St. Louis University, #90, and the University of San Diego, #97.

Also in the top ranking national universities are University of Dayton, #101, and University of St. Thomas (Minn.), #115. Four tied for #119: The Catholic University of America, Duquesne University, Loyola University Chicago and University of San Francisco. DePaul and Seton Hall universities tied at #132. The other ranking schools were St. John Fisher University, #143, St. John’s University (N.Y.), #152, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, #177, and Immaculata University, #194.

In the rankings for liberal arts colleges — those that “emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half their degrees in liberal arts fields” — College of the Holy Cross ranked highest at #29. St. John’s University (Minn.) and Thomas Aquinas College (Calif.) tied for #71. The College of St. Benedict (Minn.) tied with St. Mary’s College (Ind.) for #90. St. Michael’s College ranked at #99.

Filling out the liberal arts rankings were Siena and Stonehill colleges tying at #112, St. Norbert College, #127, St. Anselm College, #139, and St. Vincent College, #157.

The annual ranking groups together regional universities. These are defined as offering “a full range of undergrad programs and some master’s programs but few doctoral programs.”

In the south, Loyola University New Orleans was the top Catholic school at #8. Bellarmine University, #14, Spring Hill College, #17, and Christian Brothers University, #24, made the top 25. The others that ranked were Marymount University (Va.), #45, Thomas More College, #49, and tying at #63 were two Florida Catholic universities, St. Leo and St. Thomas.

Catholic universities rocked the western rankings with Trinity, Santa Clara, Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount (Calif.) taking, respectively, the first four spots. Seattle University was a close #6, and the University of Portland was #9. In the top 25 were also St. Mary’s College of California, #12, and three Texas schools, University of Dallas, #14, St. Edward’s University, #21, and St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, #22.

Others in the western rankings were Mount St. Mary’s College (Calif.), #28, University of St. Thomas (Texas), #30, Regis University, #31, Dominican University of California, #37. St. Martin’s University, #57, Notre Dame de Namur University, #69, and Holy Names University, #83.

Both the Midwest and the North are jam-packed with Catholic schools, and there was an explosion of them on the listings.

In the Midwest, Creighton University took the #1 spot. Xavier University (Ohio) was #4, and John Carroll University (Ohio) was #7. In the top 25 also were St. Catherine University, #14, Dominican (Ill.) and Rockhurst universities tying at #19 and University of Detroit Mercy, #23. Rounding out the top 50 were the College of St. Scholastica, #26, Franciscan University of Steubenville, #32. Illinois’ St. Xavier University and the University of St. Francis tying for #37, St. Ambrose University, #40, and Lewis University, #41.

Ranking in the top 100 were Aquinas College (Mich.), #53, Alverno College, #62, Fontbonne University, #66, College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) and Walsh University tying at #72, Ursuline College, #78, College of St. Mary (Neb.), #81, and Avila University, #88. Quincy University was at #91, and Madonna University was at #96. Ohio Dominican University tied with University of St. Francis (Ind.) at #98.

Finishing the ranking in the midwest were University of Mary (N.D.), #103, Marian University, #109, and Newman and Viterbo universities at #110.

The largest region, of course, is the north. Again Catholic universities trumped took the top four spots with Villanova, Fairfield, Loyola Maryland and Providence respectively ranking. St. Joseph (Penn.) and Scranton universities tied at #8. Making the top 25 also were Marist College, #13, Manhattan College, #15, Le Moyne College, #18, Canisius College, #20 and Mount St. Mary’s University (Md.), #21.

In the top 50 also were Iona College, #30, Notre Dame of Maryland and St. Bonaventure universities tying at #32, Assumption College and Salve Regina University tying at #34, College of St. Rose, #39, LaSalle and Sacred Heart universities tying at #41, St. Francis University (Penn.), #46, and Mercyhurst College, #49.

Following in the top 100 were Marywood College and Misericordia University tying at #52, Emmanuel College, #60, Niagara University, #68, Rosemont College, #74, DeSales University, #79, St. Joseph College (Conn.), #82, and St. Joseph College New York, #91.

Also in the north regional ranking were Gregorian Court University, #102, Holy Family University and St. Peter’s College tying at #104, New York colleges, Mount St. Vincent and St. Thomas Aquinas, tying at #125, Chestnut Hill and Mount St. Mary (N.Y.) colleges tying at #132, and Albert Magnus and Alvernia colleges tying at #136.

Regional colleges are defined as schools that “focus on undergraduate education but grant fewer than half their degrees in liberal arts disciplines.”

Four Catholic schools in the south were included: Wheeling Jesuit University, #8, Brescia University, #21, Belmont Abbey College, #38, and Aquinas College (Tenn.), #61.

Only two Catholic schools ranked in the west region, both in Montana: Carroll College and University of Great Falls.

In the midwest, eight Catholic schools made the rankings. They are Mount Mercy College, #24,  St. Mary-of-the-Woods College (Ind.), #25, Benedictine and St. Joseph (Ind.) colleges tying at #27, Marian University, #33, Mount Marty College, #40, Notre Dame College of Ohio, #50, and Silver Lake College, #63.

In the North, Catholic colleges are almost always large, but there are some small gems. Five ranked this year: Merrimack College, #8, Seton Hill University, #13, College of Our Lady of the Elms, #25, La Roche College, #30, and Mount Aloysius College, #37.

Of course, different ranking organizations rank in different ways. Rankings of neither #1 nor #150 indicate the success or failure of a student’s education. The criterion that the matters most of all is that a college and a student are well matched.