Statement of the ACPA Executive Committee Regarding Recent Events at the University of Saint Thomas in Houston

Dear President Robert Ivany, Provost and Vice President Dominic Aquila, Chair of the Board of Directors Herbert Emundson, and Members of the Board of Directors of the University of Saint Thomas: 

SUBJECT:  Statement of the ACPA Executive Committee Regarding Recent Events at the University of Saint Thomas in Houston

The Executive Committee of the American Catholic Philosophical Association expresses its grave concern over the recent budgetary-based actions by the President of the University of Saint Thomas in Houston (UST).  As reported in Inside Higher Ed and in the Houston Chronicle, these actions show a profound lack of respect for tenure, an indifference to accepted academic practices in the withholding of contracts without adequate notice, and a rejection of faculty governance and standard academic review processes concerning long-standing programs at the center of the Catholic mission of the University of Saint Thomas. 

The Philosophy Department at UST occupies an especially important place in the landscape of Catholic higher education in the United States, even beyond its significant contribution to the education of undergraduates.  It is home to the only graduate philosophy program uniquely focused on the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas in America, a program that brings renown to UST. We wish to express, in particular, our gratitude to the university for their extensive service provided to the American Catholic Philosophical Association in serving as host institution for our national office. 

Moreover, on its website, UST boasts of its fidelity to the papal document, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which commends “a careful and thorough study of philosophy and theology.” UST also highlights its recognition by the Cardinal Newman Society, which has praised UST for its “emphasis on the continuing importance of a liberal education and the role of theology and philosophy” and “on its Catholic identity, which is reflected in its faithful theology and philosophy departments.” UST’s incoming president, Richard Ludwick, states that he is impressed by the school’s “commitment to St. Thomas.” 

It is difficult to square any of this with the reported patter of attacks and ongoing mistreatment of the Philosophy Department, its faculty and its mission, especially the mission of advancing the thought of Saint Thomas Aquinas. As Archbishop Miller, a former president of UST, former Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, and current Bishop of Vancouver British Columbia, so eloquently said at the University of St. Thomas on April 14th, 2010, “A particular challenge faces universities today in that many would detach faith from reason, and reason from faith. This challenge can be met if teachers and learners take the Angelic Doctor as their master.” The contribution that the UST Philosophy Department makes towards meeting that challenge is enormous and should not be undermined or called into question.

The Executive Committee of the American Catholic Philosophical Association calls upon the President of the University of Saint Thomas, its senior administration, and its Board of Directors, collectively and individually, to consider their role in the violation of standard academic processes and in sowing confusion about the mission of an institution crucial to Catholic higher education, and, in turn, to formulate a plan for reconciliation in the best interests of the academic community at UST.  

Past President, Kevin Flannery, S.J.

President, Thomas Hibbs

President-Elect, Francis Beckwith



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About the ACPA

Since 1926, scholars and thinkers, mostly based in Canada and the United States, have forged a unique tradition and community known as the "American Catholic Philosophical Association." Steeped in classical sources and cultivating the Catholic Philosophical heritage, this tradition is known for creative engagement with major philosophers of every era and bold responses to the themes and issues of contemporary philosophy. 

Contact Information

Membership Services: 

A.C.P.A. membership services are handled by the Philosophy Documentation Center. Inquiries regarding membership - including membership status, changes of address (or other contact information), and status of ACPQ or ACPA Proceedings subscriptions - should be directed to the PDC at:

ACPA Subscription and Membership Services 
Philosophy Documentation Center 
P. O. Box 7147 
Charlottesville, VA 22906-7147 - USA 

Tel. 800-444-2419 (US & Canada) 
Tel. 434-220-3300 
Fax: 434-220-3301 
E-mail: order@pdcnet.org 
Web: www.pdcnet.org

All U.S.P.S. mail for the national office should be sent to:

ACPA National Office 
Center for Thomistic Studies, 
University of St. Thomas 
3800 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX 77006 

Phone: (713) 942-3483 
Fax: (713) 525-6964

E-Mail Correspondence should be sent to: acpa@stthom.edu 

The business office may be contacted at:

ACPA Subscription and Membership Services 
Philosophy Documentation Center 
P. O. Box 7147 
Charlottesville, VA 22906-7147 - USA 

Tel. 800-444-2419 (US & Canada) 
Tel. 434-220-3300 
Fax: 434-220-3301 
E-mail: order@pdcnet.org 
Web: www.pdcnet.org

E-Mail regarding this web site should be directed to:acpa@stthom.edu