Braniff Graduate School History

In 1966, a fledgling school ten years old, a university in name only, became a university in fact.

Thanks to a gift, in 1966, of $7,500,000 by the Blakley-Braniff Foundation, the Braniff Graduate School was formed. The first programs offered were master's degrees in Art, English, and Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Politics and Literature. Each of these had a distinctive character setting it apart from other programs, both locally and nationally.

The program in Business Administration – now the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business – established its defining and ground-breaking principle of innovative, practice-based education, having actual businessmen teaching potential businessmen. Responding to the needs of the expanding and changing Dallas-Fort Worth area, it grew rapidly and developed its own administrative and teaching structure. Nearly 13,000 degrees have been awarded through College of Business programs.

An influential force for education 

Other early graduate programs initiated what is now the complex of offerings known as the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts. The Art Department soon added the sixty-credit M.F.A., the terminal degree for studio artists, to its initial M.A. program. It is one of only two M.F.A. studio art programs offered by Catholic institutions in the United States. It has become an influential force because of the fundamental soundness and sophistication of its program, arising from the convictions that an artist is also a craftsman who must acquire technical control of his or her medium, and that an artist's inspiration comes from an informed and particular response to his or her place in time supported by a knowledge of the history and theory of art. Studio art graduates chair and staff art faculties in colleges and universities throughout the country.

To the original M.A. in English have gradually been added many other Master's degrees, including programs in American studies, humanities, philosophy, politics, psychology and theology, as well as the degrees offered by the Neuhoff School of Ministry that prepare lay people for work in various Church ministries. All reflect the overarching mission of the University: to revive the Western heritage of liberal education and to recover the Christian intellectual tradition. This approach, like that of the undergraduate curriculum, concerns the study not only of major authors and texts, but also of the continuity of the intellectual traditions out of which they come. In addition, graduate work in the liberal arts has a social dimension – the formation of teachers. Half of the graduate students in the Humanities program, for instance, are teachers. Present and future teachers – in public and private institutions, at all levels of instruction – are the primary focus for departments offering master's programs. To date, the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts has awarded 1,500 degrees to men and women who exemplify our approach in the excellence of their educational vision. They constitute a vital resource in the University's effort to renew education across the nation.

A unique approach to doctoral study

Nationally, the University's most influential graduate program in the liberal arts is the one that began in 1966 as the Willmoore Kendall program in Politics and Literature. Now called the Institute of Philosophic Studies, it awards doctoral degrees in Philosophy, as well as in Politics and in Literature. From the beginning this program has been deservedly called unique. No other university offers an interdisciplinary Ph.D. with a core curriculum in which students from the different fields within the humanities participate as a group. Each semester for three years all the students in the program share one of six core courses, each devoted to pivotal texts within Western civilization. Students belong to a true, cross-disciplinary intellectual community, using insights gained from the study of each other's disciplines to deepen their knowledge of their own.

Doctoral students prepare themselves to teach in colleges and universities that have an institutional mission similar to ours – with undergraduate core or honors curricula, or interdisciplinary undergraduate studies. Our success in forming teachers of intellectual breadth, commitment and integrity has gradually increased the reputation of the program. Consequently, doctoral graduates consistently find employment at institutions throughout the country. The University awarded its 180th Ph.D. at Commencement in May 2009. Of the 38 Ph.D. students awarded degrees since 1998, one is a trustee of our university, one is employed in a think tank in Arizona, one has joined a monastic order in Italy, one is teaching at a secondary school in New England, four are either in law school or practicing law, and twenty-eight presently hold teaching positions at colleges and universities.

A source of renewal in the Western tradition of liberal arts

The offerings of the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts are a continual source of renewal, not only in sending teachers into local and national arenas, but in reaffirming among the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees a shared commitment to educational excellence, integrity, and leadership.

News

Professors Awarded NEH Grant to Support Writing Programs

Chair and Assistant Professor of English Debra Romanick Baldwin, Ph.D., and Professor of Physics and recent Interim Dean of Constantin College Sally Hicks, Ph.D., have secured a $299,078 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support writing instruction at UD for the fall 2020 semester.

+ Read More

You Can Do What with a (Spanish) Degree?

His first step was to enroll in physician’s assistant school at Baylor’s College of Medicine, a career trajectory to which he had aspired since his early childhood. Nowadays, Jonathan Cunningham, BA ’17, is dedicated to the vocational pursuit of comfort and healing at MD Anderson in Houston, among the largest cancer treatment centers in the U.S., where he was once a chemotherapy patient himself.

+ Read More

History Alumnus Heads National Catholic Bioethics Center

During his Rome semester in 1991, Joseph Meaney, BA '93, with his friends (now Father) Kevin Cook, BA '94, and (now Texas State Representative and UD Trustee) Tan Parker, BA '93, attended a private Mass with Pope St. John Paul II. Several weeks earlier, they had hand-delivered a letter to the Swiss Guards outside St. Peter's requesting the Mass and including their contact information; at last, they'd received the phone call instructing them to be at the Bronze Gates at 5 a.m.

+ Read More