Benedictine College Planning to Transform Culture in America

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, has embarked on a process that it hopes will make a significant impact.

An image of the statue of St. Benedict with the American flag and the spires of St. Benedict Church

On April 13, the college gathered industry leaders, thought leaders, and subject matter experts to discuss how the college can Transform Culture in America in the first of several such meetings.

“We have spent 10 years with the goal of building one of the great Catholic colleges in America,” said President Stephen D. Minnis. “Now we are asking the question: Why? What can a great Catholic college do? How can we transform culture in America?”

Nine subcommittees are examining the impact the college can have on culture. These include Commerce and Finance, with banking and business leaders helping plan initiatives with faculty and board members; Technology, with engineers and entrepreneurs proposing ideas; Science and Health Care, gathering leading doctors and scientists, and more.

Nationally known experts, from Kansas City television anchor John Holt to author and speaker Christopher West are joining in the effort. To name a few:

  • EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, author Amy Welborn, journalist Elizabeth Scalia and architect Duncan Stroik will help plan how the college can impact Arts and Media.
  • U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry sits on the Civic Life and the Law subcommittee.
  • Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia, Mary Hasson at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and Rev. Eugene Rivers of Boston’s TenPoint Coalition will help address The Family.
  • Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society will participate in the Academia subcommittee.

The college has been working since June, 2018, on this project, a follow-up to Benedictine College’s transformative plan “Benedictine 2020: a Vision for Greatness.” Benedictine 2020 built five new academic buildings (including America’s finest small-college STEM building), four new residence halls, a dining hall and a recreation center, and dynamic new academic programs that saw Benedictine College move to a top 15 ranking in U.S. News & World Report.

The college’s board of directors have met three times about the plan to Transform Culture in America, including a Legacy Board Meeting in October that brought past board members to discuss ways the college can Transform Culture in America. Faculty and staff of the college have met twice, at the beginning of each semester of this school year, to share in the process.

The Chair of Benedictine College’s board of directors, Jack Newman, said: “The college has a proven track record of success and this is a tremendous opportunity to give back to the communities where our alumni live. These meetings are designed to turn lofty goals into pragmatic, practical solutions and the college is gathering people who excel at that.”

“A college whose motto is Forward, Always Forward, can never be satisfied with past successes,” said President Minnis. “We truly believe God blessed Benedictine College not for our own sake but for the sake of others, and we will be judged on our generosity. So we are brainstorming ways the college’s mission of community, faith, and scholarship can transform culture in America.”

The college’s mission is “The education of men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.” Preparatory materials  for the Transforming Culture meetings note that the mission mirrors the way Benedictines transformed Western culture through community, faith and scholarship.

“Our mission can transform culture in America by modeling community in an age of incivility, spreading faith in an age of hopelessness, and committing to scholarship in a ‘post-truth’ era,” says the Benedictine’s Transforming Culture in America document. 

The process will finish in 2020 with a strategic plan after subcommittees and the board of directors finish their work of collecting ideas, examining them and prioritizing them.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.