The following comes from a January 18 Catholic Education Daily article by Justin Petrisek:
Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) Catholic identity will disappear in a matter of years if administrators continue the current and dangerous trajectory towards secularization by not hiring faithful Catholic professors, according to Dr. Christopher Kaczor, a professor of philosophy at the University.
“It is magical thinking to believe LMU is immune from losing its identity. To do nothing, to continue the status quo of religious indifferentism in hiring, is to eventually join the list of formerly Catholic institutions. Higher education does not need one more flavor of vanilla,” Kaczor wrote in an article on Catholic World Report explaining LMU’s dilemma.
“My prediction is that the process of secularization will be completed within a generation,” he stated.
Only 94 of the University’s professors surveyed, about 24 percent, identify as Catholic according to a recent “Faculty Climate Survey,” Kaczor explained. The situation will soon worsen, he predicted, as a majority of the senior faculty preparing to retire are predominantly Catholic. LMU would need to replace all retiring Catholic faculty with new hires who identity as Catholic in order to simply maintain their minority level of 24 percent, let alone increase that percentage to regain a strong Catholic identity.
However, there are solutions that the University can easily incorporate if it wants to take seriously its Catholic identity and what it means to be a Catholic university, Kaczor explained.
First, LMU needs to keep track of the religious identity of incoming faculty, just as it does with race and gender, in order to see if the loss of Catholic faculty is worsening or tapering off.
Faculty candidates could also be asked to respond in detail to the University’s mission statement during the interview and hiring processes. This would show which applicants are willing to support the religious mission and identity of the University and how they specifically see themselves contributing to that mission.
The University could also create endowed chairs within certain departments, such as theology, philosophy, history, literature and Catholic studies, that highlight Catholic identity and the Catholic intellectual tradition, Kaczor suggested. Other options include recruiting from other Catholic universities and colleges, creating new positions in “Catholic Studies,” and seeking out faculty and staff who are strong advocates for increased Catholic identity.