Message from the Dean

Message from the Constantin Dean

Dean Jonathan J. Sanford

Thanks for your interest in our great university! The University of Dallas is a special place, offering an unparalleled education within a truly nurturing environment. I am convinced that the University of Dallas does something better than any other university: cultivating in its students those habits of mind essential to living rich and fulfilling lives, the intellectual virtues by means of which our students are transformed into the women and men they are called to be.

The Constantin College of Liberal Arts is the name of our undergraduate college. It is the keeper of the Core of the University of Dallas, the home of the liberal arts curricula and departments of the university, and the source of the life-transforming Rome program. The formula for the success of the Constantin College of Liberal Arts, and indeed the University of Dallas as a whole whose motto, veritatem, justitiam diligite, means "love truth, love justice" is that we keep our institutional eyes focused on the real prize, the real point, of education: loving truth and justice by leading students towards the good, the true, and the beautiful.

We are guided by the conviction that a fully liberating education is born from the heart of the Church, and the University of Dallas, welcoming as it is and must remain to students, faculty, and staff from other faith traditions, manifests its Catholicism not only in the sacramental life on campus, but also in a special way in its Core, the curricula of its departments, and in its care for students: "It is the honor and responsibility of a Catholic University to consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth. This is its way of serving at one and the same time both the dignity of man and the good of the Church"(Ex corde Ecclesiae, 4). The success, then, of Constantin College in particular, and the University of Dallas in general, "the Catholic university for independent thinkers," comes not despite, but because of its Catholicism.

What do we mean by an "independent thinker"? Nothing lies beyond the scope of reflection for an independent thinker: no scientific inquiry, no mathematical analysis, no artistic creation, no theological consideration, no work of literature, no intercultural dialogue is forbidden or too foreign for consideration. The independent thinker can think well about anything and knows there is an obligation to pursue truth wherever it leads. It may seem paradoxical, but just as Augustine argues, we are free only when bound to the truth; we are most independent as thinkers when grounded in the Catholic faith. The University of Dallas offers such an education for freedom, recognizing that independent thinkers are best nurtured by training and immersion in the best of the Western tradition. Rightly understood not as an instrument to use but as a way to live, thinking independently is tantamount to living well, and living well requires not just intellectual formation, but also moral and spiritual.

A genuinely Catholic education, then, is one that is open to every wisdom tradition, undaunted in its conviction that treasures are to be found wherever one dares to search, and that education requires rigorous training in traditional disciplines. Mathematics reveals the shape of the world and the very structure of our thought. Natural sciences train us to be attentive to the small and the grand in the universe, and to find beauty in every domain. Artistic creations both grab our attention through gripping our emotions and reveal hidden features of reality and human experience. Historical studies train our minds for the future by yielding to us the lessons of the past. Literature lays bare the depths of the human soul, making us students of human nature by cultivating those unique ways of seeing that are the fruit of a poetic imagination. By embracing these and other disciplines, we learn to think well, we learn to live well, and we are made ready for whatever part we might be called upon to play in the human drama.

In undertaking an education at the University of Dallas, our students embark on a grand adventure, one that, once they begin to make our education their own, leads them to live flourishing lives and liberates them to become all they are called to be.

Yours,

Jonathan J. Sanford, Ph.D.
Dean, Constantin College of Liberal Arts
Professor of Philosophy

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