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In a move designed to strengthen both academics and mission, St. Bonaventure University has merged the Department of Theology and School of Franciscan Studies.
The university’s Faculty Senate officially dissolved the School of Franciscan Studies to pave the way for the consolidation. The new department, to be called Theology and Franciscan Studies, will be housed under the School of Arts and Sciences.
The School of Franciscan Studies had been housed under the internationally renowned Franciscan Institute, which has been based at SBU since the 1940s. The school was established in 1991 to distinguish the teaching program from the research and publication work of the Institute.
The administrative reorganization will allow the Institute to focus its attention on scholarly research and publishing, said Fr. David Couturier, O.F.M. Cap., executive director of the Institute.
The merger, he said, will strengthen theology and Franciscan studies offerings to undergraduates.
“This will put a greater number of professors with a wide range of expertise at the service of our students looking for a wider variety of courses in theology,” Fr. David said.
Six Institute faculty members with wide-ranging expertise will bolster a distinguished theology faculty featuring three full professors, each having more than 17 years of classroom experience at SBU.
“These (Institute) professors have special skills in historical theology, Islamic theology, Jewish theology and pastoral theology,” said Fr. David. “At the same time, this expertise will allow us to strengthen our Catholic Franciscan offerings.”
Fr. Michael Calabria, O.F.M., Fr. David, Bob Donius, Jean-François Godet-Calogeras, Fr. Kyle Haden, O.F.M., and Fr. Dominic Monti, O.F.M., will be transitioning from the Institute to the new department. They’ll also continue their scholarly work in the Institute.
The move will enable the department to offer more courses and strengthen majors and minors in theology and Franciscan studies, Fr. David said.
A search to hire a new chair to oversee the department will begin soon, said Dr. David Hilmey, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Both Hilmey and Fr. David said the merger will only enhance the Franciscan mission of the university by making the core values of the mission more accessible academically.
“We want students to appreciate the Franciscan intellectual tradition that has so much to say to help the world heal from consumerism, terrorism and the disregard for human rights around the world,” said Fr. David, who stressed that university officials remain committed to the work of the Institute.
“Universities and Franciscan institutions all over the world depend on the research we do and we want to be there for a whole new generation of scholars,” he said.
Dr. Timothy Johnson of Flagler College, a Franciscan theologian and chair of the Institute’s Research Advisory Council, was effusive in his praise of the Institute’s work, specifically publishing and its efforts in hosting international conferences over the last three summers.
“These efforts confirmed the ongoing importance of the Franciscan Institute as a key intellectual center for the promotion and dissemination of research promoting the Franciscan intellectual tradition,” Johnson said.
The Institute’s publishing arm, Franciscan Institute Publications, produces and publishes books for Franciscan scholars and those interested in learning more about Franciscan theology, history and spirituality.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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