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Published by: Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Ed on Jan 30, 2009
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143
The Newman Guide
Southern Catholic College
Dawsonville, Georgia
www.southerncatholic.org
Overview

The city of Atlanta, the long-time symbol of the New South and one of the largest cities in the region, has been a Protestant bastion. But in recent years, the number of Catholics in that metropolitan area has increased along with the overall growth in population. In fact,

the Catholic population within the con\ue000nes
of the Archdiocese of Atlanta more than dou-
bled from 1990 to 2004.

Thomas Clements, a Catholic business- man, told us, \u201cIn the last 20 years, 40 new Catholic churches have been built in the At-

lanta archdiocese. In the last 10 years, \ue000ve

new Catholic high schools have opened.\u201d But there was no Catholic college in the state of Georgia.

As a result, he and several like-minded people decided there was a need for a Catho- lic college in the Atlanta archdiocese. South- ern Catholic College was launched in 2000 and opened its doors in September 2005 with its inaugural class of 72 students. Clements said, \u201cWe are working to build this college at no cost to the archdiocese in order to provide a Catholic higher education for our growing Catholic population.\u201d

The college is located one hour north of Atlanta on a 100-acre campus outside the small town of Dawsonville on the site of the

former Gold Creek Country Club. The a\ue004rac-
tive campus, with includes a lake, waterfall
and residential villas, a\ue004racted students from
20 states in its second year as the student
body increased by 60 percent. Plans call for
quick facts

Founded: 2000 (\ue000rst students in 2005)
Type of institution: Small liberal arts college
Setting:Rur a l
Undergraduate enrollment: 124 (2006\u201307

academic year)
Total undergraduate cost: $24,125 (tuition,
room and board for 2007\u201308)
Undergraduate majors:S eve n
five key Points
1.The college is fully supportive of the
Magisterium and Ex corde Ecclesiae.
2.There is an extensive core curriculum
that re\ue001ects the Catholic intellectual
tradition.
3.It seeks to support Catholic life in its
archdiocese and region.
4.The new chaplain is a former
archdiocesan director of vocations.
5.The attractive campus is located at a
former golf resort outside of a small
town.
Southern Catholic College
144
The Newman Guide

the student body to reach 500 over the mid- term and to eventually rise to 3,000, drawing young men and women from throughout the nation.

Perhaps the two factors that have most ac-
counted for its growth are a \ue000rm commitment

to Catholic teachings and a strong core curric- ulum. The college administration is strongly supportive of Ex corde Ecclesiae and enjoys a warm relationship with the archdiocese.

The core curriculum re\ue001ects a traditional

liberal arts program in the Catholic intel- lectual tradition. Students need at least 65 credits, more than half of the overall under-

graduate program, in speci\ue000ed courses in six
disciplines. These include six to 12 credits in
a foreign language.
According to the college, the integrated
core curriculum \u201co\ue002ers an internally coher-

ent program of required courses designed to help students soar on \u2018the two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contem- plation of Truth, namely faith and reason\u2019\u201d (this refers to Pope John Paul II\u2019s encyclical

Fides et Ratio).

There are seven majors: business, Eng- lish, history, integrated sciences, philosophy, psychology and sacred theology. To date, the most popular majors have been business, sa- cred theology and psychology. The college also has a cooperative elementary education program with Brenau University, located about 30 miles away in Gainesville, Georgia.

Fi\ue003y-six percent of the college\u2019s students

last year came from public schools, 32 per- cent from private schools and 12 percent were homeschooled. The college received pre- accreditation from the American Academy for Liberal Education in May 2007, and full ac-

creditation will not occur until the \ue000rst class
graduates in 2009. The college also plans to

seek accreditation from its regional agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Public Identity

Clements told us that when he was working on the bylaws of the college he \u201cwanted it to be as clear as possible that Catholicity is to be the overriding priority.\u201d The result was the

creation of a \ue000ve-member board of fellows,
whose only role is to evaluate and uphold the
Catholic identity of the college.
Every two years, the board reviews the
Catholicity of the campus\u2014its curriculum, ac-
tivities, policies and external manifestations

of faith. The board also reviews the appoint- ment of the college president and chaplain. It has purview over the core curriculum, which is considered such an important part of the Catholic identity, according to Clements, that it cannot be changed by the faculty on their

own. Among the \ue000ve members of the board
of fellows is retired Atlanta Archbishop John
Donoghue.
The college is solidly commi\ue004ed to the
Magisterium and stresses that it \u201cconsults
with the Archbishop of Atlanta regarding the
orthodoxy of the Catholic doctrine taught at

the College.\u201d The college has been embraced by Archbishop Wilton Gregory and his pre- decessor, Archbishop Donoghue.

Archbishop Gregory has celebrated open- ing Masses each year. He and Archbishop Donoghue concelebrated the dedication Mass for the chapel in November 2005.

The college has not had many speakers, we are told, but those who have come are faithful to Catholic principles. Among the speakers have been Thomas Woods, author of a well- received 2005 book, How the Catholic Church

Southern Catholic College
145
The Newman Guide
Built Western Civilization, and Joseph Pearce,
a biographer of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire
Belloc.
Governance

A predominantly lay board of trustees gov- erns the college. The 20-member board in- cludes 18 people from Georgia, most of them business leaders. The two religious members are the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Monsignor Luis Zarama, and Father Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Dr. Jeremiah Ashcro\ue003 is the \ue000rst president
and has served since 2001. He previously
was president of East Georgia College. Dr.
Ashcro\ue003 is an ex ofcio member of the board
of trustees.
The governance is bolstered by the ex-

istence of the board of fellows that, in addi- tion to the duties mentioned above, has veto power over appointments if Catholic identity is at stake.

Spiritual Life
The \ue000rst building erected on campus was the

120-seat chapel, which has not been named. There is a daily noon Mass Monday through Friday and a 10 a.m. Mass on Saturday and Sunday. According to one professor, \u201cMasses are traditional, upholding the standards of devotional liturgies.\u201d It was reported that be- tween 25 and 40 students and about half the

faculty a\ue004end Mass daily. No classes are held
during Mass times so students can a\ue004end.

Confessions are held four times weekly and by appointment. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held every Monday evening, and recitation of the Rosary takes place on Thurs- day evening. A number of students also get

involved in youth ministry work at local par- ishes, we are told, including Christ Redeemer Catholic Church, which is located 10 miles away in Dawsonville.

Archbishop Gregory appointed Father Brian Higgins college chaplain in June 2007. He previously was archdiocesan director of vocations. One faculty member said, \u201cMany of our students are from the local area, and his work at Southern Catholic will be very helpful to those students who want to remain and increase their involvements with local parishes.\u201d

One student group is Apostolic Works, which undertakes service projects, supports pro-life activities and engages in Bible study.

Students have a\ue004ended the March for Life

both in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Since 80 percent of the student body is Catholic, this is a group that should have broad appeal.

Catholicism in
the Classroom
\u201cA college is primarily de\ue000ned by its academic

dimension,\u201d one Southern Catholic professor told us, \u201cand Southern Catholic is squarely rooted in a Catholic liberal arts tradition. Our core curriculum is based upon the Catholic principle and tradition of faith and reason working together.\u201d

The theology requirement is satis\ue000ed by

taking three courses, \u201cIntroduction to Cathol- icism and Sacred Theology,\u201d \u201cIntroduction to Sacred Scripture\u201d and \u201cHistory of the Catho- lic Church and Thought.\u201d All theology cours- es are taught from within the Magisterium. Theology professors have them an d at um; at the moment, there is only one full-time theology professor and two adjunct professors who are priests of the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

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