Benedictine University was founded in Chicago as St. Procopius College by the Benedictine monks of St. Procopius Abbey in 1887. It secured a charter from the state of Illinois in 1890. The College was founded to educate men of Czech and Slovak descent, and most students were of Czech ancestry in the early years.
In 1901 the College moved to the more congenial atmosphere of Lisle, in DuPage County. The first building, Benedictine Hall, was dedicated in September 1901. The building was completed by 1921 and new buildings began to be added after 1926. The College became coeducational in 1968 and was renamed Illinois Benedictine College in 1971. In response to community needs, graduate, doctorate and adult learner programs were added. The College became Benedictine University in 1996.
Benedictine University is situated on a rolling, tree-covered 108-acre campus of 10 major buildings with air-conditioned classrooms and modern, well-equipped laboratories. A comprehensive learning center with full media library and a modern and technically advanced science facility, filled with advanced laboratory space, digital classrooms and modern research equipment opened in Fall 2001. A student athletic center features three full-size basketball courts, a competition-size swimming pool, three tennis courts and training facilities. All of the residence halls are comfortable and spacious, and have access to the Internet. Other features include a scenic campus lake, a student center with dining halls, chapel, bookstore, meeting rooms and the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex providing top quality football, soccer, lacrosse, track, softball and baseball fields.
The Benedictine Order
The Benedictine Order bears the name of St. Benedict, born in 480, who is acknowledged as the father of Western monasticism. In 528 he established the famed monastery of Monte Cassino. In the Middle Ages, Benedictine monasteries expanded all over Europe, preserving ancient learning and written languages.
Benedictine University belongs to the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities, an organization that promotes the Benedictine traditions of education and hospitality.
Benedictine University is grounded in the spirit of the founders who based their lives and work on St. Benedict's Rule for Monks, written in the early sixth century. Benedictine University builds its educational life and efforts on the same values which Benedictine men and women espouse:
- a search for God by oneself and with others
- a tradition of hospitality
- an appreciation for living and working in community
- a concern for the development of each person
- an emphasis on a life lived in balance
- a dedication to responsible stewardship of the earth
- a commitment to academic excellence
Central to the Benedictine tradition is the celebration of community as a gathering of people who share a commitment to a common mission. The University strives to develop an academic community that supports each person in the pursuit of knowledge and personal development. This undertaking will be achieved through a life enriched by the collegiate community in which the individual's interest is tempered by concern for the common good.
Catholic and Benedictine Tradition
The mission and vision of Benedictine University reflect our Catholic and Benedictine traditions and provide the University community with a sense of continuity with the past and a direction for the future.
In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Apostolic Constitution On Catholic Universities, Pope John Paul II identifies four characteristics that must distinguish every Catholic University as Catholic:
- a Christian inspiration not only of individuals but of the university community as such;
- a continuing reflection in light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research;
- fidelity to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church;
- an institutional commitment to the service of the people of God and of the human family in their pilgrimage to the transcendent goal which gives meaning to life. (Ex Corde, no. 13)
Drawing upon the sources of faith, the Catholic intellectual tradition, which extends back to the age of the Church Fathers and to the medieval universities, has built chiefly upon the following convictions:
- the worth and dignity of each person
- the solidarity of the human race and the social nature of human existence, which is oriented toward God and not limited to this life;
- the goodness of creation and its sacramental potential for disclosing the transcendent; and
- the interconnectedness of truth and the compatibility of faith and reason in the search for truth.
In fidelity to that tradition, Benedictine University is committed to investigating questions that address the ultimate purpose of life; to the dialogue between faith and culture; and to the promotion of ecumenical, inter-religious, and cross-cultural understanding. Therefore, Benedictine University encourages openness to all reality, acceptance of truth wherever it is found, and the personal effort to integrate learning as a basis of wisdom for life.
Benedictine University upholds the academic freedom of faculty and students in inquiry and research, while insisting on ethical responsibility. Preference is given to research and activities that promote human betterment, peace, justice, and the common good, and that use interdisciplinary and collaborative methods.
As a part of the Benedictine University family, we share the University's mission and Benedictine values: our past, our present and our future vision. Being in touch with the past and present helps us all to become a part of Benedictine University's future.
Benedictine University fulfills its commitment to the liberal arts, teacher education and professional programs through excellence in teaching and interaction between students and faculty members. A liberal arts core prepares all undergraduate students to participate fully in a diverse and dynamic society balancing their rights and duties as individuals with the demands of the common good. Professional education at the undergraduate and graduate levels build on the liberal arts background of students, is multidisciplinary in nature and prepares graduates for roles of leadership and social responsibility.
Benedictine University is guided by the Roman Catholic tradition which fosters a dialogue between religious and secular cultures, while promoting ecumenical and multicultural understanding. This type of education is designed to broaden and deepen a person's vision of reality, to help all understand the dignity and uniqueness of each human person and at the same time to place an emphasis upon the demands of freedom and social responsibility. In this environment, religious faith and science are both directed toward the pursuit of truth, and both are strengthened through research and study. Central to the University's educational tradition is the rigorous investigation of questions that deal with the ultimate purpose of life.
Benedictine University is committed to assist all students in the acquisition of knowledge and cultivation of skills in six major areas. Graduates of the university's degree programs will develop:
· Acquire, understand and synthesize discipline-based knowledge
· Apply disciplinary methodologies in their qualitative and quantitative dimensions
· Understand the content and interrelationships of specific areas of study
· Communicate effectively within and across the disciplines
· Express oneself clearly and concisely in multiple forms
· Appreciate and develop creative expression
· Reason and communicate informed judgments
· Identify and solve problems, independently and cooperatively
· Understand the nature of and evaluate evidence
· Confront and resolve ethical issues and contribute to the work of peace and social justice
· Exhibit stewardship of self and environment
· Develop good citizenship
· Benefit from diversity of opinion, abilities, and culture
· Recognize the importance of the interdependence of cultures and nations
· Communicate effectively within and across cultural boundaries
Self-Direction and Personal Growth:
· Develop a sense of intellectual curiosity and a desire for lifelong learning
· Strive for a life lived in balance
· Develop leadership potential
· Foster spiritual growth
Members of the Benedictine University community are encouraged to achieve a balance in their social and professional lives. They come to understand the self as an integrated physical, intellectual and spiritual being. While the University values the dignity of work, it recognizes that balance with leisure and prayer is equally important. The commitment of the University to its mission and goals provides the University community with a sense of continuity with the past and a direction for the future.
Focus on Education
The Benedictines trace their origin to a young hermit monk, Benedict of Nursia, who wrote a rule in the early sixth century that would serve as a guide for monastic living. Intended primarily for the men who followed him to his foundation at Monte Cassino in Italy, the life included the education of youth, some of whom would join the monastery while others would influence the world outside the cloister. During the centuries following Benedict until the rise of the universities in the 13th century, Benedictine educational activities expanded as monasteries grew and made new foundations. In 1846 a young priest-monk from Germany followed immigrants to the United States and established the first monastery in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
The involvement of the Benedictines in education expanded to the new horizons of college and university education in addition to work at the secondary school level. Today there are 19 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, as well as a large number of Benedictine high schools. Naturally, the curricula in these institutions focuses on contemporary educational needs. The challenge always demanded that the Benedictine men and women blend the 1500 years of Benedictine values with the demands of an ever-changing pluralistic society.
Education has consistently been a focal work within the Benedictine tradition as monasteries served their surrounding communities. Benedictine schools today, whether at the elementary, secondary or higher education levels, draw upon this proud academic heritage as they meet the challenges of the future.
A Benedictine education is not rigid. Its most important characteristic is that it is flexible in such a way as to meet current social needs. It is crucial that the Benedictine graduate will be able to adapt as they enter the working world where they will need to deal with change and difficulties in a confident and positive manner.
Sound scholarship is important, and there exists a long list of Benedictine scholars over the ages, including more Doctors of the Church than can be found in any other religious order. However in all instances, the spirit of community was and continues to remain more important. A Benedictine school will hope to inspire students to recognize their responsibilities as members of the community and become involved in its everyday life. Benedictine graduates see themselves not merely as residents, but as citizens of their communities and know that the lives of all people, regardless of social position, education or age, are entwined.
The structure of Benedictine education is fortified by a communion with God as well as by an emphasis on community values. The motto on the University's seal, "that in all things God may be glorified," comes from the Rule Benedict wrote for monks. Over the centuries Benedictine life has spilled over into the areas surrounding the monasteries, places where those educated in the monastic schools would live and work.
These values are continually refocused to bring into the Benedictine sphere of learning the spiritual and academic needs of people from the entire scope of society: Catholic and non-Catholic, multiracial and multicultural, adolescent and adult.
Benedictine scholastic goals have never departed from faith in the guiding hand of God's love and in following the spiritual path. God is the foundation, the focus and the spiritual core. Trusting in God's will helps every Benedictine University student realize that life's purpose is to work to serve others and to give time and talent to help all people. A Benedictine education ensures not only that its graduates' lives - spiritual, intellectual and professional - will be enhanced, but that the God-given purpose of life on this earth will inspire and elevate the well-being of all with whom the graduates will live, interact and work.
Benedictine academic values attempt to bring students and faculty into harmony with their communities and the contemporary world. Individual and collective contributions are decisive in integrating the spiritual, intellectual and economic components of daily life.
The Benedictine approach to teaching has not changed dramatically since its beginnings. We continue to recognize the need to improvise where necessary and to reevaluate and implement strategies ensuring that the orientation and spirit of Benedictine education will remain synonymous with scholarship, community involvement and good citizenship.
The sense of family and the union of hearts are what Benedictines and those associated with their work have stood for and have put into practice since Benedict's own days in the sixth century. The elements are the same today: intellectual development, faith, ecumenism, service and an active concern for human welfare and progress.
Students and faculty members at Benedictine University and in the 18 other Benedictine colleges and universities know the Benedictine commitment to quality education, spiritual awareness and community participation, and they enthusiastically make these the unshakable elements of their lives, underscoring their resolute approach to addressing the needs of tomorrow.
We identify ourselves as a Catholic and Benedictine university. The question might be asked of us, "Is it possible for students at Benedictine University to be non-Catholics and still share in the rich heritage of Benedictine education that will put graduates squarely in the center of secular community involvement and leadership?" The answer to this question is an unqualified "yes."
Those who come to us as undergraduate or graduate students receive a quality education rooted in the 1500-year tradition of Benedictine and Christian ideals, an education that prepares not only for a career but also for service to people. Our graduates will have a special sensitivity for those beset with poverty, infirmity or loneliness.
Benefiting from the learning environment formed and supported by the Benedictine heritage, graduates come to realize that a fulfilling life is multi-focused. Benedictine values demonstrate that spiritual convictions, professional goals, community obligations and a happy and rewarding family life are not only parallel paths in the structure of life. By their very nature, these paths converge.
At Benedictine University, we strive to integrate every avenue of life, every stage of development as human beings. Lessons such as these are, most certainly, imperishable.
The Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities
- Belmont Abbey College (North Carolina)
- Benedictine College (Kansas)
- Benedictine University (Illinois)
- College of St. Benedict (Minnesota)
- College of St. Scholastica (Minnesota)
- Mount Marty College (South Dakota)
- Saint Anselm College (New Hampshire)
- Saint Gregory College (Oklahoma)
- Saint John's University (Minnesota)
- Saint Leo College (Florida)
- Saint Martin's College (Washington)
- Saint Vincent College (Pennsylvania)
- University of Mary (North Dakota)
- Saint Peter's College (Canada)
- Conception Seminary College (Missouri)
- Mount Angel Seminary (Oregon)
- Saint Meinrad Seminary (Indiana)
- Christ the King Seminary (Canada)
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