The Catholic University of America

Archived April 11, 2007

Approved by:

Board of Trustees

History: Issued--June 2006
Additional History
Responsible Official President

1. Mission Statement

In the reorganization of the University's governance in the late 1960s the formulation of institutional mission found in the 1937 "Statutes of The Catholic University of America" (Appendix, n. 6) was reconsidered in the light of the Second Vatican Council (1962‑1965). University‑wide discussions in academic year 1967‑1968 resulted in a "Statement of Objectives," regularly referred to as the "Aims of the University" and published in each issue of the Announcements since its adoption.

The statement was prepared by the Academic Senate and, after further mutual discussion, adopted by both that body and the Board of Trustees in 1968. In 1970 the Apostolic See, by action of the Roman Congregation for Catholic Education, approved the statement of aims, along with the Bylaws of the University completed in 1969 (below).

To complement the statement of aims approved by the Board of Trustees on July 26, 1968, the Academic Senate prepared a second document, "Goals of The Catholic University of America" (Appendix, n. 8). It was intended to develop operational goals from the basic institutional aims enunciated in the 1968 statement of aims and was approved by the Senate in the same year. This document was not acted upon by the Board of Trustees at that time but was included in the Faculty Handbook for a number of years.

After deliberations in academic years 1977‑1978 and 1978‑1979 and in consultation with the Faculties, the Academic Senate produced a revision of the 1968 "Goals of the University," and this document was submitted to the Board of Trustees on September 6, 1979. With further revision by a joint committee of the two bodies, the text was approved by the Academic Senate on May 7, 1980, and by the Board of Trustees on June 21 of that year.

Finally, in the wake of a University Self‑Study in 1988‑1989 and a visit on behalf of the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in 1990, the possibility of combining the two statements, with any necessary revisions, into a single mission statement was studied. On November 21, 1991, the Academic Senate voted to incorporate the two documents, of 1968 and 1980, into a single mission statement but without change in either document.

The Mission Statement of The Catholic University of America

I. Aims of the University

The Catholic University of America is a community of scholars, both faculty and students, set apart to discover, preserve, and impart the truth in all its forms, with particular reference to the needs and opportunities of the nation. As a university, it is essentially a free and autonomous center of study and an agency serving the needs of human society. It welcomes the collaboration of all scholars of good will who, through the process of study and reflection, contribute to these aims in an atmosphere of academic competence where freedom is fostered and where the only constraint upon truth is truth itself.

As a Catholic University, it desires to cultivate and impart an understanding of the Christian faith within the context of all forms of human inquiry and values. It seeks to assure, in an institutional manner, the proper intellectual and academic witness to Christian inspiration in individuals and in the community, and to provide a place for continuing reflection, in the light of Christian faith, upon the growing treasure of human knowledge.

As a member of the American academic community, it accepts the standards and procedures of American institutions and seeks to achieve distinction within the academic world.

Faithful to the Christian message as it comes through the Church and faithful to its own national traditions, The Catholic University of America has unique responsibilities to be of service to Christian thought and education in the Catholic Community as well as to serve the nation and the world.

II. Goals of the University

The Catholic University of America was founded in the name of the Catholic Church in the United States by Pope Leo XIII and the bishops of this country as a national institution of learning. Given its origins and the historic role of its ecclesiastical faculties, this University has a responsibility to the Church in the United States that is special to it: it is called to be an intellectual center of highest quality, where the relation between revealed truth and human truth can be examined in depth and with authority. It seeks, moreover, to do this in the light of the American experience. It is for this reason that from its inception the University has enjoyed a unique relationship with the Holy See and the entire Catholic community.

Established as a center for graduate study, The Catholic University of America has evolved into a modern American university, committed not only to graduate, but also to undergraduate and professional education and to the cultivation of the arts. At every level, the University is dedicated to the advancement of learning and particularly to the development of knowledge in the light of Christian revelation, convinced that faith is consistent with reason and that theology and other religious studies themselves profit from the broader context of critical inquiry, experimentation, and reflection.

The University aims at achieving and maintaining in higher education a leading place among Catholic and other privately endowed, research oriented institutions of comparable size, purpose, and tradition. In particular, it seeks to maintain a position of special excellence in the fields of theology, philosophy and canon law.

The Catholic University gives primacy to scholarship and scientific research and to the training of future scholars through its graduate programs, not only in order to advance scientific work but because it recognizes that undergraduate and professional education of high quality also demands the presence of a faculty that combines teaching and professional activity with fundamental scholarship.

The University seeks the advancement of knowledge within a context of liberal studies, a context which reflects both its concern for the whole person and the distinctive wisdom to which it is heir as a Catholic institution. This dimension of learning is reflected particularly in its undergraduate programs where religious studies and philosophy are regarded as integral to curricula that include requirements in the arts and humanities, language and literature, and the natural and social sciences. Through its professional programs, the University seeks to educate men and women who can represent their respective professions with distinction and who are formed by the learning and values inherent in its academic and Catholic traditions.

In selecting disciplines or fields of specialization to be supported at an advanced level of study and research, the University accords priority to religious and philosophical studies and to those programs which advance the Catholic tradition of humanistic learning and which serve the contemporary and future needs of society and the Church. In supporting particular programs the University takes into account the present and potential quality of program, making an effort to maintain present academic strengths, especially when these are not represented elsewhere.

The University recognizes that its distinctive character ultimately depends on the intellectual and moral quality of its members. To create an environment that is intellectually stimulating and characterized by the generosity and mutual support required for collegial life and personal growth, the University seeks men and women who are not only professionally competent but who can contribute to its Catholic, moral, and cultural milieu. The University seeks to preserve its tradition of collegial governance, fostering a climate within which all members of the University community have sufficient opportunities to influence deliberation and choice.

Though a research and teaching institution, the University recognizes that it is part of a larger community to which it has certain obligations consistent with its character. Its presence in the Nation's Capitol and its unique relationship with the Catholic Church in America provide it with opportunities for influencing the resolution of the crucial issues of our time. In providing information and criteria by which public policy is shaped and measured, the University seeks to be of special service to the nation. Similarly, it seeks to be of service to the Church, not only through the preparation of clergy and other leaders for specific roles in the Church, but through factual investigations and discussions of principles which influence policy. Thus, in dialogue and cooperation with contemporary society, The Catholic University of America sees itself as faithful to the challenge proposed by the Second Vatican Council for institutions of higher learning, namely, to put forth every effort so that "the Christian mind may achieve . . . a public, persistent, and universal presence in the whole enterprise of advancing higher culture" (Gravissimum educationis, n. 10).

Faculty Handbook of The Catholic University of America, 2006 Edition