Kalscheur Emphasizes Intellectual Tradition In New Role
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Rev. Gregory Kalscheur, S.J., the newly appointed senior associate dean for strategic planning and faculty development in the College of Arts and Sciences, asks some very big questions.
“What does it mean to live a good human life?” Kalscheur said. “What does a just world look like? How does life have meaning when there can be so much suffering and injustice?”
Kalscheur, who was appointed in August, hopes to use his new position to inspire the Boston College community to ask these questions and search for answers to them.
“Something that is important to me in thinking about the mission of this school is the question of who our students become through their experience at Boston College,” Kalscheur said. “Being in the habit of asking the big questions is characteristic of a graduate or the faculty of a Jesuit school.”
Kalscheur hopes to lead the University to ask these questions and engage more with the Catholic intellectual tradition through his various duties as senior dean. These duties include involvement in the academic review and hiring processes, as well as responsibility for faculty development.
The academic review process involves a number of steps. First, each department in A&S conducts a self-study. Next, an external review team analyzes the department and prepares a report of its findings. The department then prepares a response to the external report, which is sent to the dean. The dean finally prepares a response back to the response of the department.
Kalscheur’s duties in the hiring process include involvement with the on-campus interviews for prospective professors.
“My hope would be that candidates are excited to be at a place that takes seriously the question of who our students are becoming,” Kalscheur said. “We need to have teachers who are enthusiastic about asking the big questions and who will be good models for the students we hope will go on ask these questions throughout their lives.”
Faculty development is the third crucial duty that Kalscheur hopes to impact. “We are thinking about different sorts of programming that will foster more conversation about the issues of faculty development with respect to integrating teaching and research and the Catholic intellectual tradition at Boston College,” he said.
According to Kalscheur, greater integration of the Catholic intellectual tradition into academic life at BC could have many positive benefits for students and faculty.
“Catholic is a word that has to do with being oriented towards wholeness, so an authentically Catholic education should help people to move towards that wholeness in their intellectual life,” Kalscheur said.
Kalscheur believes that this search for wholeness can apply to a disparate group of people.
“I don’t think the Catholic intellectual tradition is a set of absolute truths that somebody has to adhere to or appropriate as a totality in order to engage the tradition,” he said. “Instead, I think the Catholic intellectual tradition is this process of asking questions with a particular kind of horizon, in search of wholeness. If we are going to do that in a human way we have to have a whole range of people who are from a whole range of traditions who can contribute to the conversation.”
This wide range of people includes not only people from all different cultural and religious traditions, but also those from different academic disciplines.
“The pursuit of truth in any discipline is a sort of openness to the biggest questions if you pursue that truth as far as it can go,” Kalscheur said. “Anyone doing anything in any department can be open to questions that have a faith dimension in them.”
Though Kalscheur has only worked for a month as a senior dean, he has already realized that this new position sets a lifetime of work ahead of him.
“There’s always greater depth that can be looked for,” he said. “There’s always greater interdisciplinary collaboration that can be developed.”