e, the undersigned, protest actions which we believe have seriously damaged one of our nation's premier Great Books programs: the Saint Ignatius Institute of the University of San Francisco.
We further believe that the effective gutting of one of the country's finest centers of Catholic liberal education by administrators at the University of San Francisco (USF) teaches a sad lesson about the growing exclusion from our colleges and universities of even the most fair-minded traditional religious educators.
As part of a liberal education, even secular schools ought to expose their students to religious views. But when even a nominally Catholic institution like USF refuses to allow one small center of traditional Catholic learning to exist in the form it has for 25 years, we believe it truly is an educational crisis.
The award-winning great books program of the Saint Ignatius Institute at USF has for two-and-a-half decades been a model blending Catholic education and liberal learning. The Institute has exposed its students to all points of view, secular and religious, while emphasizing traditional Catholic theology. That emphasis has added to the diversity at the University of San Francisco.
We believe that the summary dismissal of the Saint Ignatius Institute's key administrators by USF President Stephen A. Privett, SJ, and the de facto dissolution of the Saint Ignatius Institute program as a genuine intellectual alternative grossly violate USF's professed commitment to diversity.
The undersigned call upon the Trustees of the University of San Francisco to rehire the fired administrators and to return the Saint Ignatius Institute to its former status.
Furthermore, as supporters of genuine liberal education, we call upon all of our nation's colleges and universities to restore genuine intellectual diversity by granting traditional religious perspectives their rightful place in the curriculum.
William J. Bennett
Robert P. George
Jean Bethke Elshtain
Deal W. Hudson
Richard John Neuhaus
Charles E. Rice
*Institutional affiliations appear for identification purposes only.