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Contending with ModernityCatholic Higher Education in the Twentieth Century$
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Philip Gleason

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780195098280

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195098280.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 February 2021

Institutional Developments: Moving into Graduate Work

Institutional Developments: Moving into Graduate Work

Chapter 8 Institutional Developments: Moving into Graduate Work
Contending with Modernity

Philip Gleason

Oxford University Press

At the same time Catholic educators were espousing and attempting to put into practice the countercultural intellectual position described in the previous chapters, they continued to modernize their schools in organizational terms. Conservatives warned that accepting the new organizational trends paved the way for secularization, but the experience of the first two decades of the century proved that Catholic institutions could not survive unless they adjusted themselves to prevailing norms. Rigid adherence to the old ways meant extinction. So despite the uneasiness they sometimes felt about what they were doing, most Catholic educators believed that they could modernize their educational structures and practices without compromising their religious distinctiveness. Indeed, the more forward-looking insisted that this kind of organizational reform was essential if the Catholic worldview was to be effectively presented to students and adequately represented in the larger world of learning. The growth of Catholic higher education between 1920 and 1950 seemed to vindicate this line of thinking. Sheer growth was, in fact, the most obvious institutional development of these years. The actual numbers are hard to establish because of differences over time in the way institutions were classified and enrollments recorded. However, the statistics gathered by the National Catholic Welfare Conference provide a reliable indication of overall trends. The table below sets forth the basic data by ten-year intervals from 1920 to 1950, along with comparative figures for all institutions of higher education in the country. These statistics indicate that over a three-decade span of fabulous growth the Catholic sector of American higher education maintained a pretty consistent proportion of national totals in respect to numbers of institutions and faculty members. In terms of enrollment, Catholic schools almost doubled their percentage share of the national total, even with students attending seminaries and strictly teacher-training institutions being excluded from the count. Closer analysis reveals that, although observers at the time spoke of the post-World War II surge in enrollments as unprecedented, the Catholic growth rate of the 1920s far outstripped that of the 1940s.

Keywords:   Athletics, Boston College, Coeducation, Duquesne College, Football, Honorary degrees, Liberal arts, North Central Association, Professional schools

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