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Magdalen College

Magdalen College

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Published by: Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Ed on Sep 12, 2009
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165The Newman Guide
In the early 1970s, several Catholics were in-terested in supporting the call of the SecondVatican Council for the education of lay Cath-olic leaders. They approached then-BishopErnest Primeau, the ordinary of the Dioceseof Manchester, to receive an endorsement toestablish a college within his diocese.The college recounts that the bishop, whohad been active in Vatican II deliberations,said to them, “You have my blessing and ap-proval, now let us see how well you laymenwill conform to your apostolate.”What they have created over the past 35years has been very much in conformity totheir goal and to the Church’s mission. Therelatively tiny college, named for patronessSaint Mary Magdalen, has been a beacon of
delity to Catholic teaching and a forceful
witness to faithful Catholic higher education.
It also has rmly established a classical lib
-eral arts program that exposes students to aninterrelated Program of Studies focusing “onthe great questions of life.”
The rst-year class in 1974 met in a mo
-tel in Bedford, New Hampshire, a town thathosted the college for the next 17 years. Thecampus was then relocated to its present 135-acre site in the small central New Hampshiretown of Warner. Bishop Primeau’s successor,Bishop Leo O’Neill, blessed the new campuson the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen in 1991.The college is located about 18 miles fromthe state capital of Concord and is a 90-min-ute drive from Boston. But it draws a student body from 23 states and several other coun-
quick facts
Type of institution:
Very small liberal artscollege
Small town
Undergraduate enrollment:
65 (2008–09academic year)
Total undergraduate cost:
$20,500 (tuition,room and board for 2009–10)
Undergraduate majors:
key Points
Lay-controlled board with dedicationto
Ex corde Ecclesiae.
Provides a liberal education through adistinctive Program of Studies.
Grants every qualifed graduate an
Apostolic Catechetical Diploma.
Views its small size as a charism.
Has a unique vocal music programwhich includes all students, every year.
Magdalen College
Warner, New Hampshire
Magdalen College166The Newman Guidetries. The 13 graduates of the Class of 2008included students from the Bahamas, Califor-nia, Texas and Illinois; only three were fromNew England.To accomplish its objectives of individual
aention and fostering a sense of community,
the college will continue to be small. In 2008-2009 there were 65 students enrolled, and themaximum number is pegged at about 85–90.More than half were homeschooled, and 97percent were Catholic.“Our charism is our size,” President Jef-frey Karls told us. “Our size is something that
at rst might put people o, but we intention
-ally keep it small because we want our stu-
dents to have a very signicant experience
of community, of living the faith in commu-nity.”Magdalen students take four years ofstudies in Catholic doctrine, leading to theVatican’s Apostolic Catechetical Diploma. Weare not aware of any other institution thatdoes this at the undergraduate level. The dis-cipline of catechetics is distinct from theol-ogy, which assumes knowledge of Catholicdoctrine; Magdalene acknowledges the real-ity that few students today are well-preparedfor college-level theology.Such a program supports Magdalen’sgoal of cultivating leaders for the Church.Nearly one-third of Magdalen’s students havegone on to graduate study, and about 10 per-cent of the college’s graduates have becomepriests or other religious.The college announced in May 2007the acquisition of a property known as Dur-ward’s Glen in Caledonia, Wisconsin, about ahalf-hour from the state capital of Madison.The property, purchased from the Order ofCamillus Servants of the Sick, is used for re-treats, other programs and eventually a sec-ond campus. Bishop Robert Morlino of theDiocese of Madison has blessed Magdalen’sexpansion into his diocese.Magdalen received full accreditationfrom the American Academy for Liberal Edu-cation in 2004. It is currently pursuing region-al accreditation through the New EnglandAssociation of Schools and Colleges, and Car-dinal Sean O’Malley of Boston participated in
a “launch” for that eort in January 2009.Aending college in New England can
 be pricey, but not at Magdalen College. Thetuition rate is less than half the typical pri-vate-college tuition in New Hampshire, witha total cost of just $20,500 for tuition, roomand board in 2009-10. The bargain prices more
than make up for somewhat smaller nancial
aid packages, although the college recentlytook the steps necessary to make students
eligible for federal Pell Grants and Staord
Magdalen College is governed by a board oftrustees comprised of nine lay Catholics andtwo additional emeriti members. All make aProfession of Faith.The president also must be a Catholic.Karls, the third and current president, is analumnus of the college and served as ex-
From theFinancial Aid Office
“Magdalen College students are now eli-
gible to receive Pell Grants and Staord
Loans through the Federal Student AidProgram (Title IV). Because the collegehas a limited amount of institutional aidavailable for students, the Board of Trust-
ees is commied to keeping tuition androom and board costs aordable. At Mag
-dalen College, students save more than$9,100 as compared to the average privatecollege in New Hampshire.”
Magdalen College167The Newman Guideecutive vice president before assuming thepresidency in 1998. He serves on the Boardof Directors for the Institute on Religious Lifeand the Sedes Sapientiae Foundation, whichsupports the Benedictine Monastery of San
Benedeo in Norcia, Italy. No stranger to the
needs of Catholic families, he and his wife Ju-lie have nine children.
Public Identity
In its founding document known as the Ar-ticles of Agreement, Magdalen pledges “toform the students in the life long pursuit ofuniversal truths;the growth of their baptismal Faith; theadherence to pre-cepts and disciplineof the Roman Catho-lic Church; and theliving of the specialvocation of a Catho-lic layman and lay-woman in such a
way as to benet
society, especiallythrough the family.”Appropriately,then, the college’s seal includes the phrase
Gaudium et Spes
(“Joy and Hope”), the name ofthe 1965 Vatican II constitution on the Churchin the modern world.President Karls continually weighs in onthese issues. In the spring 2006 issue of The
Magdalen Newsleer, for example, he wrote:
“In order to maintain and safeguard ourCatholic identity, we must sustain our com-mitment to be faithful to the teachings of theCatholic Church; we must provide coursesfor students on Catholic moral and religiousprinciples and their application to criticalareas such as human life and other issues ofsocial justice; and we must care pastorally for
the students, faculty and sta.”
Magdalen lives up to those purposes inall aspects of its public life. We are aware ofno speakers or events that run contrary toChurch teachings. Many campus appearanceshave come about through the H. Lyman Steb- bins Colloquium. One of the recent speakersin the series was Dr. Robert Royal, presidentof the Faith and Reason Institute, who spokeon Dante, his academic specialty.In April 2007, Chris Graveline, an alum-nus and U.S. army prosecutor, spoke aboutthe Abu Ghraib prison controversy and otherlegal issues. Bishop Michael Cote of the Dio-cese of Norwich spoke on the papal document
Spe Salvi
in April 2008.As part of the35th anniversarycelebration, Dr.Brennan Pursell,a DeSales Univer-sity history profes-sor and author of
Benedict of Bavaria
 ,spoke during par-ents’ weekend inOctober 2008. Theyear-long com-memoration alsoincluded the visitof former Vatican
ocial Cardinal Francis Arinze in April 2009.
Festivities concluded in July 2009 with visits by musician Tony Melendez and Dr. RobertMoynihan, editor of
Inside the Vatican
.The college launches its school year withan Academic Mass of the Holy Spirit, usuallycelebrated by Bishop John McCormack of theDiocese of Manchester. The board of trustees,
faculty and sta take the Oath of Fidelity at
this Mass.The celebrant of the end-of-year Bacca-laureate Mass in 2008 was Bishop Morlino ofMadison, and in 2009 it was Bishop Louis Ge-lineau, Bishop Emeritus of Providence, RhodeIsland.

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