Education Notebook

Ex Corde Ecclesiae Opponents

CRISIS, June/July—In his weekly column “The Catholic Difference,” George Weigel of the Ethics and Public Policy Center commented on an often-cited reason universities have for not wanting to implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church). That's the Pope's apostolic constitution on the Catholic Identity of Catholic colleges and universities. “Get the University entangled with ‘outside authorities,‘ [the Presidents] argue, and the credibility of Catholic higher education will be dealt a lethal blow,” Weigel wrote. Responding to this fear, Weigel quotes Holy Cross Father James Burtchaell from an article in the June/July issue of Crisis magazine about what schools are willing to do:

“The first outside authority to which she regularly defers is the federal government, incarnate in the departments of State, Justice, Education, Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Labor, and Veterans Affairs; also the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Library of Congress, the U.S. Patent Office, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowments for the Humanities and for the Arts, the National Institutes for Health and the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

“Washington forbids her to ask the race of applicants, but requires her to report the racial breakdown of her personnel and students; makes it worth her while to include in every employment notice the assurance that she is an equal opportunity employer; forbids her to save the trees on her campus by spraying DDT; determines and inspects the housing for her laboratory animals (which therefore cost roughly twice a much per square foot as faculty office space); requires protection of all human subjects of any funded research, subject to elaborate guidelines and reporting; requires a minimum number of credit hours to be taken by students receiving tuition grants or guaranteed loans; and regulates the emissions from the power plant …,” the Crisis article said.

Weigel quotes Father Burchtaell further to the same effect, then asks “Is the only ‘entanglement’ a Catholic university must avoid an ‘entanglement’ with the local church, in the person of its bishop? Why should he be thought a peculiar plague-bearer?”

University Faculties are Aging

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Sept. 7—A third of the professors at schools in one recent poll were over 55, compared with a fourth a decade ago, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The information was based on a survey conducted at 378 colleges and universities by the higher Education Research Institute. Explained the Journal, “the general population is aging, and under a 1994 federal law, colleges are banned form setting a mandatory retirement age for the faculty.”

The same survey, reported the Journal, “also found that older professors were stressed more by information technology.” The Journal cites Linda J. Sax, associate director of the Higher Education Research Institute, as saying that “the finding was significant because today's students are accustomed to using technology in instruction and research.”

But law Professor Robert P. Mosteller, chairman of Duke University's academic council warned about drawing rash conclusion from the study. “The key is that people need to stay as long as they are doing work that is good. So age is only a rough proxy,” the Journal quoted Mosteller as saying.

A related story carried by the Associated Press reported that even students are finding the dependence on computer technology burdensome. The University of Florida, for example, provides counseling for students who suffer from computer anxiety, the Associated Press reported.

Binge Drinking Gets a New Face

THE NEW YORK TIMES, Sept. 7—In an effort to downplay the widespread assumption that binge drinking is confined to university campuses, 113 colleges and universities have signed an advertisement that aims to break it, by targeting high schools as the breeding ground for bingers, The New York Times reported.

“Binge drinking on campus has had its share of publicity in recent years, after incidents like the death of a freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and drunken riots near Penn State last year,” the article said. “The advertisement, framed as a promotion for a mock brew called Binge Beer, alludes to such accidents: ‘Who says falling off a balcony is such a bad thing? And what's an occasional riot? Or even a little assault between friends?’”

The article goes on to highlight some of the different tactics taken by schools in the fight against binge drinking. Some, like the University of Arizona, have tried to convince students that binge drinking is not that common on campus after all, the Times reported.