Catholic Identity in Public Life
Sam Brownback, Governor of Kansas
Brownback is a former U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kansas. A former administrator, broadcaster, teacher, attorney and author he also served as Kansas’ Secretary of Agriculture. Brownback and his wife, Mary, have five children, two of them adopted. Raised a Methodist, Brownback converted to Catholicism in 2002 and is currently a member of Christ the King Parish in Topeka. He has spoken on issues of faith and politics at Benedictine College many times, including during the 2010 dedication of the Mother Teresa Center for Nursing & Health Education.
Sister Veronica Daniels, OSB, St. Martin's Ministries in Ridgely, Md.; nurse to Mother Teresa
A Benedictine College alumna who graduated from Mount St. Scholastica College, one of our founding institutions, Sister Roni, as she is called, served as a nurse to Blessed Mother Teresa in Washington, D.C., and in Calcutta in the last year of her life at Mother Teresa’s request. Sister Roni, along with three Missionaries of Charity sisters, unveiled the “Mother Teresa Nursing Center” sign on Benedictine College’s campus on the 100th anniversary of the future saint’s birth, Aug. 26, 2010.
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Sister Roni entered the Benedictines in 1962. She has worked as a pediatric nurse, a family practice nurse, and a nurse educator. Currently, Sister works at Saint Martin’s House, serving the poor in Ridgely, Md. She also works two days a week in Washington, D.C., where she provides health care to the homeless and serves as a clinical instructor.
Dr. Robert P. George, McCormick Chair in Jurisprudence at Princeton University.
George is the founding director of the James Madison Program. He served on President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics, and is also a member of the UNESCO World Commission on the Ethics of Science and Technology. He previously served as a presidential appointee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights is a former Judicial Fellow at the Supreme Court of the United States, where he received the Justice Tom C. Clark Award. He is the author of several books.
His scholarly articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the American Journal of Jurisprudence, and the Review of Politics. Professor George is a recipient of many honors and awards, including the Presidential Citizens Medal awarded December 10, 2008.
Cardinal Cristoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna
Cardinal Schonborn is a highly regarded author, teacher, and theologian. He was a student of Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) and with him was co-editor of the monumental Catechism of the Catholic Church. He studied theology and philosophy in Bornheim-Walberberg, Vienna, and Paris. He was ordained a Dominican priest by Cardinal Franz König in December 1970 in Vienna, and later studied in Regensburg. From 1975 he was professor at Freiburg im Uechtland.
In 1980, he became a member of the international theological commission of the Holy See, and in 1987 he became editorial secretary for the Catechism. He speaks six languages and has written numerous books.
Fr. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D, president of the Magis Center of Reason and Faith
Fr. Spitzer is president of the Spitzer Center on Catholic Organizations and Chief Educational Officer for the Ethics and Performance Institute. He has published five books, published articles in the International Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophy in Science, the Business and Professional Ethics Journal, the Journal of Ultimate Reality and Meaning, and the Journal of Jesuit Business Education. He has founded seven major national institutes.
He has produced several series on cable’s EWTN including: Healing the Culture; The Spirit of Catholic Leadership; Suffering and the Love of God; Finding God Through Faith and Reason; Five Pillars of the Spiritual life; and Jesus-Emmanuel.
James Towey, President, Ave Maria University
Mr. Towey came to Ave Maria after serving as president of Saint Vincent College from 2006-2010. Prior to leading Saint Vincent, Mr. Towey served as an Assistant to the President of the United States. He was a member of President George W. Bush’s senior staff and attended meetings of his Cabinet. As director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives from 2002 to 2006, Mr. Towey oversaw billions of dollars in federal grants that were awarded annually to faith-based charities serving the poor. He and his wife Mary have five children.
Gregorian Fellowships Facilitators
Stephen D. Minnis, J.D., President, Benedictine College, 2004 to present
A native of St. Joseph, MO, Mr. Minnis received his Bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College in 1982. He obtained his Juris Doctorate degree from Washburn University in 1985 and Master’s of Business Administration degree in 1993 from Baker University. Mr. Minnis began his legal career in the county prosecutor’s office for Johnson County, Kansas. At Sprint Corporation, he held the position of director, state regulatory and general attorney for 14 years.
He served as president of the Benedictine College Alumni Association from 1991 to 1995 and joined the Benedictine College Board of Directors in 1992, serving until October 2004 when he became president of the college. Steve’s wife, Amy (Kohake), graduated from BC in 1984 and currently teaches in the Education Department at Benedictine College. The couple has three children, Matthew, Michael, and Molly.
Dr. Kimberley Shankman, Dean of the College, Benedictine College
Kimberly Shankman received her PhD in Political Science from Northern Illinois University. Subsequently she taught in the Politics and Government Department at Ripon College from 1985-2001, when she left to take her current position at Benedictine College.
Her research interests are American political thought and constitutional law. She is the author of Compromise and the Constitution: The Political Thought of Henry Clay. Additionally, she has published articles relating to the privileges or immunities clause of the 14th amendment and other aspects of constitutional law. She spoke recently on “Truth and Democracy” at the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, Italy, and on “Human Capital in Caritas in Veritate” at Columbia University in New York.
Dr. Joe Wurtz is the Dean of Students and Executive Director of the Gregorian Fellows at Benedictine College.
Previously, Wurtz served as the Dean of Students at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., the Director of Student Activities at Benedictine College, and as a Resident Director at Benedictine College. Joe received his BA in philosophy from Benedictine College, his Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Kansas and his doctorate in Higher Education Administration at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Wurtz served as a FOCUS missionary at Benedictine College from 1999-2000 and at the University of Denver from 2000-2001. Currently, Joe serves on the Board of Directors for FOCUS. He and his wife Megan live in Atchison, Kansas, with their four children.
Dr. Jamie Blosser, Assistant Professor of Theology, Benedictine College
Jamie Blosser teaches courses in church history, ecclesiology and New Testament. He received his Ph.D. in Historical Theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and wrote his dissertation on the theological anthropology of Origen of Alexandria. Before teaching at Benedictine College he worked at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC. His main interest is in the study of patristics or early church studies, in particular Origen and Augustine of Hippo. He and his wife Danielle have five boys: Augustine, Ambrose, Cyprian, Basil and Cyril.
Dr. James D. Madden, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Benedictine College
Dr. James Madden lives in Atchison with his wife (Jennifer) and their six children; William, Martha, J. Patrick, Brendan, John and Cormac. He is originally from Wisconsin, and did his graduate work at Kent State (MA, 1998) and Purdue (Ph.D., 2002). He was awarded the Benedictine College Distinguished Educator of the Year Award in 2006.
Dr. Madden’s research interests are in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and epistemology. Recent Scholarly Work: Mind, Matter, and Nature: A Thomistic Proposal for the Philosophy of Mind, CUA Press (book under review); “Realism, Nominalism, and Biological Naturalism,” International Philosophical Quarterly, March 2011; “St. Thomas on the Demonstration of God’s Existence,” Aquinas Review (under review), co-authored with Jean Rioux; “The Fifth Way, Scientism, and Intelligent Design,” Faith and Reason. (Summer 2007); “Qualia and Constitution in Body-Self Dualism,” Symposium on Body-Self Dualism in Contemporary Ethics and Politics by Robert George and Patrick Lee, Annual Meeting of the American Maritain Association, October 16th, 2010; “Atheism, Theism, and the Possibility of Biological Naturalism,” The Perennial Philosophy Lecture at Loras College, May 7, 2009.
Dr. George Nicholas, Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department, Benedictine College
Dr. Nicholas began teaching at Benedictine College in 1992. He was NEH Fellow and visiting faculty member at Harvard University, 1993. He has been chairman of English department, Benedictine College, 1995-present. His principal areas of study are medieval and Renaissance literature, most particularly Old English poetry, Old Norse sagas, and the works of Shakespeare. He is an enthusiastic electirc guitarist; nevertheless, his hearing is still pretty good.
Dr. Susan (Orr) Traffas, Benedictine College Dean’s Office, Advancement and Student Success Center.
Susan (Orr) Traffas came to Benedictine College in the Summer of 2008 after spending the last 21 years working in social policy in Washington, DC at various think tanks and several stints in federal government. She worked most recently with the Bush administration. From 2001-07, she was the Associate Commissioner of the Children’s Bureau, the oldest federal agency dedicated to child welfare. From 07-08, she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs at the US Department of Health and Human Services, where she worked on pro-life issues. As the director for postgraduate support, Dr. Traffas works with students who are pursuing graduate and professional degrees; she also finds fellowship and scholarship opportunities for qualified students to further their academic careers after graduation.
Dr. Traffas received her B.A. in Politics from the University of Dallas and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont in Government. She published Jerusalem and Athens: Reason and Revelation in the Works of Leo Strauss in 1995.
Tom Hoopes, Writer in Residence, Vice President of College Relations, Journalism and Mass Communications instructor
Hoopes teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department. He has written for the National Catholic Register for more than 20 years and was its executive editor for 10. His writing has appeared in Crisis magazine, First Things’ First Thoughts, National Review Online, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside Catholic and Columbia. He served as press secretary for the Chairman of the U.S. House Ways & Means Committee in the 1990s. He and his wife, April, were editorial co-directors of Faith & Family magazine for five years. They have eight children.
Mr. Kohler (M.Div., Southern Seminary) is a former evangelical pastor who entered the Catholic Church at 2011’s Easter vigil. Currently the Director of Development at St. Benedict's Abbey and instructor at Benedictine College (Kan.), Mr. Kohler is completing an M.A. in English from Kansas State University.