New Center To Be Major New Player in the Classical Education Renaissance

With the launch of the Sheridan Center for Classical Studies, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, isn’t just looking deeply into the past, but is also on the wave of the future.

Named for Dr. Thomas F. Sheridan, the center will help develop an undergraduate and Masters’ program in classical education, along with establishing a Sheridan Chair for Classics.

Those are exactly the things that Jeremy Wayne Tate thinks will save the country. He the founder of the CLT (Classical Learning Test) alternative to the S.A.T., and his Twitter account is a great center for news of the growth in Classical Education.

“This new wave of homeschoolers and classical school kids seem like they can fix anything,” he wrote.

The United States has been experiencing a “Renaissance of the Classical School.” Dioceses across the country are making headlines in their efforts to start classical schools while waves of parents are leaving public school systems nationwide, notably in Kansas. Meghan Cox Gurdon wrote it in The Wall Street Journal that classics from Homer to Hawthorne are getting “canceled” in public schools. Simultaneously, schools in China are discovering their benefits.

The Sheridan Center for Classical Studies will promote and help guide:

  • Benedictine College’s Great Books Program, which has been named one of America’s Top 25.
  • the newly established Classics Department, which will contain the Classics major and be led by the new Sheridan Chair of Classics, Dr. Edward Mulholland.
  • the Honors program, led by the newly appointed Sheridan Senior Scholar, Dr. Susan Traffas, and the Sheridan Center Director, Dr. Andrew Salzmann.
  • the Classical Education track in the Benedictine College Education Department.
  • a proposed new Master’s degree in Classical Education.

Dr. Sheridan, whose multi-million dollar gift is one of the largest the college has received in its more than 160 year history, is a prime example of the power of classical studies. Born in 1954 and orphaned as a young boy, he graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul with a degree in the sciences, but his humanities professors sparked a lifelong interest in philosophy and Christian mysticism. Dr. Sheridan went on to graduate from medical school and enjoy a long and successful career in anesthesiology in California. His love of his country led him to serve as a civilian physician in Kuwait during the first Gulf War. (More here.)

“The Sheridan Center for Classical Studies is important to our Transforming Culture in America plan,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. The college’s strategic vision was developed in two years of meetings of community leaders from a variety of fields with Benedictine College faculty, board of directors, staff and students.

They developed four priorities: Formation programs to create students who are experts in living the mission of community, faith and scholarship; Profession programs to advance alumni after graduation; Extension programs to reach beyond the campus borders with the mission; and Endowment programs to enhance the college’s excellence into the future.

“This new center meets each of the plan’s priorities,” Minnis said. “The Sheridan Center will help us to form students in the Catholic intellectual tradition, to prepare them to succeed at a high level, to further articulate the value of liberal arts, and to grow the college’s endowment.”

The college’s Transforming Culture in America plan was inspired by St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation The Church in America. The document calls for American colleges to “train truly Christian leaders in the different spheres of human activity, and in society, especially in politics, economics, science, art and philosophical reflection.” With the addition of the Sheridan Center, with its emphasis on classical thought, Benedictine College will now offer centers of distinction in each of the concerns St. John Paul II identified.

“Saint John Paul II said, ‘Through [Our Lady of Guadalupe’s] powerful intercession, the Gospel will penetrate the hearts of the men and women of America and permeate their cultures, transforming them from within,’” said Minnis. “The Sheridan Center will help fulfill that promise.”

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Ex Corde Editorial Staff

Benedictine College’s mission can Transform Culture in America by modeling community in an age of incivility, spreading faith in an age of hopelessness, and committing to scholarship in a “post-truth” era. The Ex Corde Center for Catholic Media creates video and other media content to promote positive messages of faith, hope, and love while providing students with the tools, experiences, and contacts they need to enter the 21st century media world as effective communicators. Learn about the Ex Corde media fellows program.