National Catholic Register


Campus Watch

Higher ed in the headlines.

BY John Lilly

January 15-21, 2006 Issue | Posted 1/16/06 at 10:00 AM


Duo ‘Inappropriate’

The Pioneer Press, Jan. 3 — A cohabiting couple who work together as professors for the University of St. Thomas received a surprise call from a school official last month. The pair were preparing to lead students to Australia, and the administrator wanted to know what their sleeping arrangements would be on the trip.

Ellen Kennedy, 57, and Leigh Lawton, 61, live together as unmarried, heterosexual partners. Neither is Catholic. The university told them they could go to Australia only if they took separate rooms. They refused. The flight left without them, but the controversy on campus is just getting warmed up.

“The bottom line is it’s not appropriate, we don’t feel as a Catholic university, for unmarried partners, homosexual or heterosexual, to travel together” officially with students, said Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations.

Conservative Enclave

FOX NEWS, Dec. 26 — Christopher Flickinger may call himself “dean” and pose in joke photos waving a small American flag, looking stern — but he says he’s never been more serious about eliminating what he claims is pervasive anti-conservatism on college campuses today.

“When I was on campus, I had no help,” the recent Ohio State University graduate told Fox News. “I was harassed, intimidated, shouted down.”

Flickinger, schooled in broadcast journalism, said he wants to provide the support he never had as a lonely conservative in college. So, in November, he launched the Network of College Conservatives ( The group will act, he says, as “a link for these conservative students, to let them know they are not alone.”

White Supremacy Study

THE COURIER-JOURNAL, Dec. 16 — A Bellarmine University task force will study what constitutes acceptable speech on campus after receiving complaints about a white-supremacist armband worn by a student.

Andrei Chira, 18, stirred up controversy by wearing a “Blood and Honour” armband decorated with a symbol of the group. On its website, the group identifies itself as a promoter of “white pride and white power,” and traces its origins to the British “skinhead” movement.

So far, Bellarmine officials have not asked Chira to remove the armband that he said he has been wearing for the past few months.

Joseph McGowan, president of the Catholic college in Louisville, Ky., said in a statement that “most, if not all” members of the Bellarmine community are upset by the views that the armband represents. But McGowan said forcing Chira to remove it would be “denying free speech, which I believe is contrary to being a true university.”

Funds to Follow?

SIOUX CITY JOURNAL, Dec. 5 — Creighton University in Omaha has launched a $350 million campaign to expand the university, fund academic programs, increase the university’s endowment and raise its profile.

To date, the campaign has already raised $226 million in money and pledges. Jesuit Father John Schlegel, the university’s president, said the initial response to the fund-raising effort has been “quite surprising and very gratifying.”

Creighton, one of 28 Jesuit-run universities in the United States, has a student body of 6,800 full-time students. Its most recent fund-raising campaign, in 1999, raised $127 million.

Father Schlegel said the campaign will help the university reduce its dependency on tuition income, which he said was a key way the university could contain tuition increases and make the university accessible to a diverse student population.

He also hopes to expand the university by continuing to buy property around the campus.