The Gregorian Institute Shield, composed of the crossed gold and silver keys of the Papal Insignia, an open book with the words 'Via Veritas Vita' ('The Way, the Truth, and the Life') written on its pages, three golden six-sided stars on a red banner, and a Germanic cross.


Benedictine to Launch Great Books Program With Magna Carta

Aquinas from Benedictine College's Great Catholics Mural.
Aquinas from Benedictine College’s Great Catholics Mural.

Benedictine College has announced plans to offer a Great Books Program to students starting in the Fall of 2014. The program will be co-directed by Dr. Susan Traffas and the Gregorian Institute’s Dr. Edward Mulholland.

To demonstrate the significance of the program, the college plans to formally launch it with a public display of original and rare editions of the Magna Carta, works of Aquinas and Augustine and Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

“We are excited to give our students the chance to systematically study the Great Books at Benedictine College,” said Benedictine President Stephen D. Minnis. “Sharing these world-changing works at the launch of our Great Books Program is a great way to show why this curriculum is so important.”

Benedictine 2020: A Vision for Greatness, the college’s bold strategic plan focusing on academic excellence, calls for “an environment that prepares students with the best that has been thought and written.”

Dean of the College Dr. Kimberly Shankman said the Great Books Program is just one response to the Benedictine 2020 plan. She has appointed Dr. Susan Traffas and Dr. Edward Mulholland as co-directors of the Great Books Program.

“Our college’s course catalog has long provided an opportunity for a Great Books program. The chairs of philosophy and theology, Dr. Jean Rioux and Dr. Richard White, jointly offer a three-semester great books sequence called Faith and Reason. The new program allows the college to use the talents of Dr. Traffas and Dr. Mulholland to our students’ best advantage.”

Great Books Scholars at Benedictine College will study the works that serve as a foundation of Western thought. The Great Books program is not a major. Great Books courses will in some cases take the place of required courses at Benedictine College and will be open to all students. Those who wish to earn the Great Books Certificate will take the entire seminars curriculum (The Ancient World, The Middle Ages, The Renaissance and The Moderns). For more information, click here:

“As graduates of the St. Ignatius Institute, my wife, April, and I are very excited about this new program,” said Tom Hoopes, vice president of college relations at Benedictine and editorial director of the Gregorian Institute. “We know a lot of graduates of Great Books programs are looking for a similar program for their own children, and I think students will love the opportunity to study with these great professors.”

Dr. Traffas arranged for the display of great documents. The documents will be displayed and maintained by the Remnant Trust, a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting and displaying documents pertaining to man’s pursuit of freedom. The Trust has asked Benedictine College to be a host for the Fall Semester 2014 of 40 original works from their collection. The Trust maintains a collection of original documents in the history of freedom.

Susan Orr Traffas came to Benedictine College  in 2008 after a decades long career in public policy. With a BA in Politics from University of Dallas, Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School. She is the author of Jerusalem and Athens: Reason and Revelation in the Works of Leo Strauss, and of numerous articles and chapters on political philosophy, child and family policy and the role of women in society. She sits on the editorial board of Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy, and is currently serving on the board of Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Dr. Edward Mulholland is Assistant Professor of Classical and Modern Languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He holds a Doctorate in Philosophy from Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, and an MA in Classics from the University of London. He has been involved in Catholic education via seminary, college and high school teaching for 25 years. He has taught in Italy, Spain, Mexico and the United States.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas.  The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide.  It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging.  It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.


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