Catholic University Founded to be ‘Guiding Light’ for Higher Education, Says Provost

“Catholic University was founded to serve the Church and the nation as a comprehensive research university — to be a guiding light for higher education,” says Dr. Aaron Dominguez, provost at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

At Catholic University, which is recommended for its strong Catholic identity in The Newman Guide, students receive an education in the Catholic intellectual tradition, and also have the opportunity to engage in research opportunities with faculty. The Newman Society recently asked Dr. Dominguez to discuss the unique offerings, and Catholic identity, of Catholic University today.

Newman Society: The Catholic University of America is sometimes referred to as “the bishops’ university” or “the national Catholic university.” How does this distinguish Catholic University from other faithful Catholic colleges? How is the Catholic identity maintained, and what do you see for the future?

Provost Dominguez: We are unique in the United States as being the only university founded by our bishops with a charter from Pope Leo XIII. Our mission is to serve the Church and the nation as a faithfully Catholic research university in the capital of the free world. Our fidelity to the Church and her teachings is not only part of our past, but is a vibrant part of the present and is in fact the only way we could truly fulfil our mission in the future.

The Catholic University of America

Newman Society: President Garvey transitioned Catholic University’s campus housing to single-sex residences and supported a student petition to screen pornography from the campus internet service. Why is promoting a Catholic culture on campus important to the academic work of the University?

Provost Dominguez: We respect the inherent dignity of the human person and the call to participate in God’s beautiful plan for us. This is why we put in place conditions that encourage and facilitate the kind of mutual respect needed to do so, which also allows us the kind of true freedom for our academic pursuits.

Newman Society: Catholic University describes itself as a research university, which is distinct from the Catholic liberal arts colleges also recognized in The Newman Guide. How does the University integrate research and the scientific disciplines with teaching the liberal arts and the Catholic intellectual tradition? How do Catholic University’s research initiatives benefit the Church?

Provost Dominguez: A research university is a place where new knowledge is discovered.  A Catholic research university is also a place where we search for truth, while acknowledging the origin of the truth in God and we can do that in all of our disciplines: in the humanities, the sciences, the arts and in professions. We are truly an authentically Catholic, global research university. We unite faith and reason. In all of our departments and schools, we carry out research as part of our teaching mission. All of our students, both undergraduate and graduate, have the chance to work with world class professors making new discoveries. By adhering to the teachings of the Church, we are more free academically to explore the natural world, our place in it, our connection to each other and to God.

Newman Society: Catholic University was founded as a graduate school and stands out among the Newman Guide colleges for its extensive master’s and doctoral programs. How does this commitment to graduate programs impact the experience of undergraduate students? And what makes Catholic University a good choice for graduates of other Newman Guide colleges, if they pursue graduate studies?

Provost Dominguez: Catholic University was founded to serve the Church and the Nation as a comprehensive research university — to be a guiding light for higher education. Our graduate students are some of the best and brightest from around the world.  With their graduate degrees in hand, they are set to become future leaders carrying with them the knowledge they have discovered and our mission in their hearts.

Newman Society: What do you think makes Catholic University such an exciting choice for Catholic families today?

Provost Dominguez: Catholic University is not only an academically rigorous institution, it is a caring community where students can grow both intellectually and spiritually. Catholic is also just a very fun place to be! We have a beautiful large, green campus in the heart of the nation’s capital with a vibrant campus life. It is an academic oasis with direct access to all the history, culture, food, music and beauty that the District of Columbia has to offer.

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