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Higher Education News from the Collegiate Way

These news items about residential colleges, collegiate houses, and the renewal of university life are posted for readers of the Collegiate Way website. For more about residential colleges and collegiate universities please visit the main Collegiate Way page.

Catholic Residential Colleges in Secular Universities

[Arms of the St. John’s College, University of Sydney] — The residential colleges that exist within American universities are, for historical reasons, all creatures of their parent institutions, and so they take on whatever character those parent institutions have. But the original residential colleges—those of Oxford and Cambridge—were, and are to this day, independent corporate bodies. Some are large, some are small, some are wealthy, others less so; some originally had denominational affiliations, and those denominational affiliations in many cases remain vital to collegiate identity.

As the Oxbridge model spread around the world, the example of corporately independent colleges—as opposed to colleges that report to the university’s central administration—has only occasionally been replicated. But where it has been replicated, it has often been in the context of colleges with denominational affiliations. The four residential colleges of the University of Waterloo, for example, were each established by a different church: Roman Catholic (St. Jerome’s University College), United (St. Paul’s College), Anglican (Renison College), and Mennonite (Conrad Grebel College). Today, of course, these colleges admit students of all faiths or of none, and are fully integrated into the life of their associated university. But their character and culture continues to be influenced by their historic church affiliations.

A number of the residential colleges in Australian universities also maintain denominational affiliations, and I’m pleased to announce that one of the oldest of them, St. John’s College at the University of Sydney, will be celebrating its sesquicentennial next year and will be hosting in connection with that celebration a special international colloquium on the role of Catholic residential colleges within modern universities. The rector of St. John’s, Dr. David Daintree, has been one of the most loyal supporters of the Collegiate Way website since it was first established seven years ago, and I am certain that this colloquium will be an important contribution to international thinking about the collegiate way of living.

The announcement for the colloquium appears below. Interested readers are welcome to contact Dr. Daintree for additional information.

International Colloquium on the Role of Colleges in the Modern University

St John’s College in the University of Sydney will be hosting an international colloquium on the special place of Catholic university colleges in the modern and secular educational world to coincide with the celebrations surrounding World Youth Day, and the visit to Sydney of Pope Benedict XVI in July 2008.

2008 is also the sesquicentenary year of the foundation of St John’s College, which was the world’s first Catholic college to be established within a non-catholic or secular university since the Reformation.

While particular emphasis will be on the vocation of Catholic colleges in the midst of secular academia, we hope that the Colloquium will attract participants and contributions from other Christian and other religious backgrounds and traditions.

Topics to be considered might include:

  • Moral and ethical education: to what extent should colleges attempt to recover ground surrendered by the secular university?

  • The realization of Newman’s ‘ideal university’.

  • The notion of a residential university college has evolved in an ‘Anglo-Saxon’ context—can it be translated to other cultures? Does it have anything to offer?

  • Taking the Gospel to Generation Y

  • Archbishop Polding and his idea of the University, Dr Peter Cunich, University of Hong Kong.

  • Saint John’s College—Custodian of Catholic Education within the University of Sydney, Revd Prof Dennis Rochford MSC, Associate Dean, School of Religious Studies, Coordinator, Saint Joseph Center for Christian Studies, Macau Inter-University Institute, China.

  • What secular universities can learn from Catholic colleges, Dr Robert J. O’Hara, author of The Collegiate Way (, biologist and higher education consultant.

  • The Pontifical Biblical Commission document ‘Morality in the Bible’, Dom Henry Wansbrough OSB, monk of Ampleforth Abbey (York). Dom Henry is also Magister Scholarum of the English Benedictine Congregation, Cathedral Prior of Norwich, English member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Trustee of the Catholic Biblical Association and Emeritus Member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of Oxford. From 1990 until 2004 Dom Henry was Master of St Benet’s Hall, the Benedictine private hall at the University of Oxford.

  • Thinking of Paradise, Most Revd Dr Mark Coleridge, Archbishop of Canberra-Goulburn.

  • La tâche universitaire, une tâche éthique, Prof Dominique Vermersch, International Moderator of the Emmanuel Community.


8–12 July 2008—the exact dates are still to be determined. The Colloquium immediately precedes the World Youth Day period.


Participants are cautioned that flights to Australia will be heavily booked during the WYD period; travel agents are advising visitors to arrive early and stay on afterwards. On the other hand it is predicted that internal flights will be relatively easy to book.


Some accommodation will be available in St John’s College throughout the period 29 June to 26 July 2008.


We invite submissions from persons interested in presenting a paper to the Colloquium. Submissions should include a title and abstract (approximately 200 words) and should reach us no later than 1 September 2007.

Enquiries to Dr David Daintree, Rector of St John’s College, at The College’s website is

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