STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Franciscan University of Steubenville has partnered with the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project to help secure the devout Catholic philosopher’s place in efforts to advance cultural renewal.
“Our partnership with Franciscan University will provide us the opportunity to build upon our current programming and to develop many new and exciting programs, which only the resources of a university could allow,” said John Henry Crosby, the founder and director of the legacy project.
Dietrich von Hildebrand, a Catholic convert and anti-Nazi activist, fled Nazi expansion in Europe and eventually settled in the U.S. in 1940. He taught at Fordham University in New York City.
He was a student of the influential philosopher Edmund Husserl and a close friend to the German philosopher Max Scheler. He wrote many works about ethics, philosophy and the Catholic faith before his death in 1977, and his admirers include Benedict XVI.
Crosby founded the legacy project in 2004 to promote von Hildebrand’s thought and work through spreading his writings, especially in the English-speaking world.
Jonathan Sanford, a Franciscan University philosophy professor, said the university is “excited” to incorporate the project’s work with its own.
“The legacy project has already made an outstanding cultural contribution by drawing our attention to and nurturing conversation about timeless questions of truth, goodness and beauty while at the same time promoting interest in the tremendously rich body of work left to us by von Hildebrand,” he said.
Daniel Kempton, vice president for academic affairs at Franciscan University, said giving the project a greater presence on campus will enrich the university’s intellectual environment and provide greater opportunities for students and faculty.
The legacy project will start its new partnership with special attention to programs “uniquely suited” to a university. The project will hold its annual summer seminar on the university campus for the first time this July, in an expanded week-long format.
In fall 2013, the legacy project will offer a graduate student fellowship at Franciscan University allowing graduate students to study von Hildebrand’s work and help prepare manuscripts for publication. The project will also explore collaboration with the university in areas like academic conferences and co-sponsored lecture series.
Crosby said April 24 the university is “a natural partner” for the project because it is a leading institution in the study of personalist philosophy and early phenomenology. Crosby praised the university’s commitment to exploring reality “both as given in reason and in faith.” He said the faculty is “deeply versed” in Christian philosophy.
The university library houses one of the three complete copies of von Hildebrand’s papers.
Crosby’s father, Franciscan University professor John Crosby, was a close personal friend of von Hildebrand. Von Hildebrand’s widow, Alice von Hildebrand, served on the university’s board of trustees from 1987-1999.