Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The wealth of its campus 

I graduated from St. Anselm in 1979. I'm not sure the number of Benedictine monks on the campus at that time, but it was substantially more than the 25 that remain today. Because of that and its wish for more capital from alumni, the school is now considering a change in its leadership structure.
After 120 years of holding near-total control over the school they founded, Benedictine monks at St. Anselm College yesterday yielded to outside pressure and took a step toward sharing power with lay trustees.

"The monastic chapter has decided to reopen the discussion and consideration of governance and to pursue a model of shared governance," said St. Anselm's president, Father Jonathan DeFelice.

The move has been discussed for more than ten years, but had recently been put on hold because of concerns it would change the nature of St. Anselm.

I am not Catholic (raised Methodist, now Lutheran), but I can say the monks of the school were a vital part of my education. Several were my instructors in economics, Latin, philosophy, chemistry and computer science (I may have forgotten one here.) Brother Joachim Froelich was one of my mentors (and later college president.) Religion did not play a direct role in my education -- I was not to take the religion classes because I was a Protestant, I was told -- but seeing the life of the mind pursued by those who lived a monastic life made a believer of me that my education needed to be broad-minded.

I do not know if St. A's will change from a change in its leadership structure. Most certainly there will be greater concern for the school's finances. But I'm more concerned about the dwindling number of examples on campus that a life in God and a life in study of science and letters can go hand in hand. They are as much the wealth of the college as any rich benefactor.