You are on page 1of 6

John Paul the Great

Catholic University
San Diego, California

John Paul the Great Catholic University may
be situated in San Diego, California, but the
small, specialized university can trace its
spiritual heritage to Franciscan University of
Steubenville, Ohio. It was there in 2000 that a
visiting Dr. Derry Connolly had the inspira-
tion to develop a college in his hometown.
Connolly, an administrator at the Uni-
versity of California, San Diego, decided that
he wanted to replicate the Steubenville reli-
gious fervor on a new campus in the nation’s
eighth largest city. With his background in
technology and business, he also wanted to quick facts
combine evangelization with entrepreneur- Founded: 2003 (first students in 2006)
ship, especially as it relates to what is known Type of institution: Very small, specialized
as New Media. university
Beginning with the initial class in 2006, Setting: Urban
the university offers undergraduate degrees Undergraduate enrollment: 81 ( spring 2009)
in communications media and business. In Total academic year cost: $25,500 (tuition
fall 2009 it will add an M.A. in biblical theolo- and room (no board) for 2009–10)
gy and an M.B.A. in entrepreneurial business. Undergraduate majors: Two
Then, in the following year, there will be new
undergraduate degree programs in computer Five Key Points
engineering and video game development. 1. Emphasis on New Media and
The first-year class consisted of 30 stu- business with strong Catholic identity.
dents, and that increased to 81 in the winter 2. Offers new niche majors with
2009 quarter. All except two of the latter are evangelization opportunities.
3. A Senior Business Plan might lead
The current campus is one large, indus- students to create start-up companies.
trial building located in northern San Diego
4. Small classes offered in a widely
about one mile from student apartments and
acclaimed city.
one mile from a parish church. During its first
5. Low cost for California institution.
year of operation one classroom was used, but
expansion has continued to two floors since

The Newman Guide 159
John Paul the Great Catholic University

ing process with the Western Association of
From the Schools and Colleges. Members of the first
graduating class will receive their diplomas
Financial Aid Office
in December 2009.
President Connolly told us, “Parents
“JP Catholic offers a number of institu-
could be understandably nervous about let-
tional grants and scholarships, along
ting their children go to a new college. I tell
with work-study opportunities.
them to pray about it. In the time we’ve been
“Our scholarships are awarded primar- open, I have had no calls from parents who
ily on merit and are designed to reward have any regrets about their decision.”
leadership at school and Church, creativ- The university has two “core commit-
ity, innovation and entrepreneurship. ments”: spiritual and intellectual. The latter
Institutional grants are based on your fi- applies to the unique curriculum while the
nancial need. Grants and scholarships are former is a straightforward dedication to Ca-
awarded for your first three quarters (the tholicism. The university describes this com-
first academic year) and are renewable mitment as: “The spiritual development of
throughout your education at JP Catho- all students, faculty and staff, and striving to
lic, but you must maintain a 3.0 GPA and put into action, in our lives and in the lives of
demonstrate an ongoing commitment to those we touch, the teachings of Jesus Christ,
our mission. being unapologetic for and uncompromising
with His Word.”
“Work study is given to students based Although the university has a special-
on need, as well as a student’s talents and ized curriculum—business and media ma-
our need for workers. A work-study po- jors—it works to provide a Catholic education
sition is similar to a job—you maintain through requiring one course every quarter
your employment by showing up on time on some aspect of Catholic philosophy, theol-
and doing good work! ogy, history, ethics or culture.
One would expect a college education
“Every student is encouraged to apply for
in upscale San Diego to be expensive, but JP
financial aid, and the earlier you apply
Catholic is priced far below what the average
the more likely you are to earn a substan-
private institution in California charges. Tu-
tial amount of financial help. We also par-
ition and room fees for 2009-10 academic year
ticipate in a partnership with Wells Fargo
were $25,500. Financial aid includes merit
through which deferred loans—loans that
scholarships, work-study options and de-
do not have to be paid until after gradu-
ferred loans through Wells Fargo Bank.
ation—are available to our students. Your
eligibility for loans is determined by your
or your parents’ personal credit. Governance
“Contact Martin Harold at mharold@jp- JP Catholic has the consent of Bishop Robert for more details.” Brom of the Diocese of San Diego to use the
word “Catholic,” independent of the diocese.
then. Long-range plans anticipate a campus The university is governed by an 11-
with up to 1,600 students. member board of trustees. The chair of the
The institution is approved by the state board is a permanent deacon and banker. The
of California and has begun the accredit- other members include one priest and several

160 The Newman Guide
John Paul the Great Catholic University

people engaged in senior positions at area ceeded.”
businesses. Dr. Connolly, the president and Bishop Brom celebrated the first Mass in
one of the five founders of the university, also the small Blessed Sacrament campus chapel
is a member. in September 2006, and an Opening Mass
Dr. Connolly has worked as a professor was held shortly afterward in the neighbor-
and administrator at the University of Cali- ing Good Shepherd Catholic Church. Such a
fornia – San Diego for 11 years, and he contin- beginning was appropriate for what one stu-
ues his employment there while building JP dent said was “a Catholic identity that drives
Catholic. His academic specialty is unusual everything that we do here.”
for a university president but appropriate giv- Speakers on campus have included Steve
en JP Catholic’s emphasis; he has a Ph.D. in McEveety, producer of The Passion of the
Applied Mechanics from Cal-Tech, 15 years of Christ; representatives of Sony Online Enter-
employment with IBM and Kodak, and eight tainment; Act One, a Christian acting group;
patents to his name. A native of Ireland, Dr. the Goretti Group, dealing with chastity; and
Connolly and his wife Lidy have five chil- freelance scriptwriters. Outside speakers are
dren. vetted for their orthodoxy.
The patron of the university is the 17th-
century Italian St. Joseph of Cupertino. The
Public Identity Franciscan priest is also the patron of student
test takers.
According to the university, “John Paul the
Great Catholic University will intentionally
seek to avoid causing controversy and con- Academics
fusion among its students in matters of faith.
JP Catholic seeks to shape and form solid JP Catholic is emphatic in its fidelity to the
Catholic leaders and innovators poised to Magisterium. “All teaching faculty,” the uni-
put into action the versity reports,
teachings of Jesus “will commit to
Christ, and not to harmony with
become agitators Catholic Church
for change on mat- teachings (the pope
ters of doctrine.” and bishops) in
President speech and action.
Connolly adds, Faculty, staff, stu-
“The most impor- dents or volunteers
tant part of our who knowingly in
university is the public speech or
Catholic dimen- actions take posi-
sion. The only tions against the
type of student Catholic Church
who would want compromise their
to be here is some- relationship with JP
one for whom faith Catholic. JP Catho-
is important.” One lic expects all trust-
faculty member added, “If our students don’t ees, faculty and staff to celebrate the positive
know the Lord or the Faith, we haven’t suc- spiritual and entrepreneurial components of

The Newman Guide 161
John Paul the Great Catholic University

its mission and eschew cutting down what doesn’t mean that everything we end up do-
the institution is striving to build.” ing is openly ‘religious,’ but our faith will be
The mandatum is required for all faculty part of what we do.”
members who teach theology. Currently, the In the third and fourth years, students
only theology professor describes himself as a participate in teams to develop a Senior Busi-
“biblical Thomist.” ness Plan. This
Overall, there are project allows
six full-time fac- students to bring
ulty and nine ad- their entrepre-
junct professors. neurial skills and
All professors values together to
must maintain create a blueprint
some part-time for a company.
work outside the The university ex-
university in their pects that half of
field, whether it is the students will
in business or me- use these plans to
dia. launch their own
The busi- businesses after
ness math course, graduation.
taught by Alan The universi-
Lane, is started by ty has developed a
prayer and—when study abroad pro-
applicable—raises Catholic themes such as gram. In March 2009, 30 students participated
tithing and the need to place the acquisition in the program which included one week in
of money in its proper perspective. Business Rome and one week in Ireland.
morality themes are addressed in theology.
Tom Dunn, adjunct professor of digital
media production, said to us, “From day one,
Spiritual Life
we show students the scripture passages that
Mass is offered daily on campus. The campus
call us to be perfect, that they should not settle
chaplain, appointed by the bishop, hears con-
for something less. No matter what they may
fessions twice weekly and by appointment.
end up being called to do, they must do it in a
Adoration also takes place every afternoon
way that is truthful and faithful to Christ.”
on campus. Students attend Sunday Mass at
Although JP Catholic is not a liberal arts
Good Shepherd or elsewhere.
institution per se, it has a 57-credit core cur-
There have been several visiting Mass
riculum. This includes four Catholic religious
celebrants, including Bishop Brom and Mon-
studies courses as well as four philosophy
signor Jim Lisante, a television news com-
courses such as “Catholic Social Teaching”
and others that have a Catholic approach.
Students have become involved in Good
The university assumes that most stu-
Shepherd and other parishes, and this activity
dents will be called to work in business,
includes teaching CCD classes, pro-life work,
entertainment and the new digital media.
helping with homeless people and attending
Although there is a certain evangelization
prayer and worship services.
component present, one student reported, “It

162 The Newman Guide
John Paul the Great Catholic University

Classes begin and end with prayer, rein- Residential Life
forcing what the theology professor told us,
“Everything the university does, every course Students live in the Legacy Apartment Homes
and field, is permeated with themes from the- complex spread through four different build-
ology and philosophy.” ings. An additional apartment is used for a
chapel, prayer and studying. Men and wom-
Student Activities en reside in separate parts of the complex,
and no visitation between men and women
The college continues to develop student in each other’s apartments is permitted except
organizations. In addition to the local parish- in the common rooms maintained by the resi-
centered activities, there are informal events dent assistants.
such as a monthly ”open mic” or variety pro- A resident director lives in the building
gram. There is a writing group. And the uni- and works with seven residential associates.
versity has set up some intramural sports. “Households” according to the Franciscan

Message from the President

Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

John Paul the Great Catholic University is proud to welcome stu-
dents who are eager to “Impact Culture for Christ” and respond to
Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization through the channels
of new media, business and technology. We are energetically commit-
ted to Christ and His Catholic Church, and seek to transform the world through love and fidelity
to Him.

JP Catholic is unique in many ways: classes run year-round, to better keep up with the
breakneck pace of modern innovation. Our curriculum focuses on action—business students
learn to create viable companies and launch them during their senior year, and media students
work with cameras and equipment from the first day of class, write feature-length screenplays
and direct a short film as a final project.

We offer different media tracks for directors, writers, producers and journalists. All stu-
dents take a solid liberal arts core in philosophy, theology, literature, art and music. Most of all,
we are committed to Christ and hope to draw all the world into an intimate relationship with
Him, beginning with our own students.

May God bless you—and, if you want to “Impact Culture for Christ,” we hope to see you at
JP Catholic!

In Christ,

Dr. Derry Connolly

The Newman Guide 163
John Paul the Great Catholic University

University of Steubenville model are in for- mercial carriers. Amtrak and other rail and
mation; some of the men have joined together public bus systems are available. Among the
to form a Knights of David household. road systems that traverse the area is Inter-
The apartments form a typical complex state 5, which runs from Mexico to Canada.
and also house people who are not part of the
university. These residential units are near
the university’s building. Students carpool,
The Bottom Line
walk or ride bicycles to class.
John Paul the Great Catholic University is part
Related to residential life, the university
of the new breed of small Catholic colleges
encourages chastity through teaching scrip-
born from the crisis in higher education of the
ture and St. Francis de Sales’ work on chas-
past generation. Its founders are implement-
tity. The university has weekly get-togethers
ing a formidable vision: Create a traditionally
during which participants talk about spiritual
orthodox institution that prepares students
life, including chastity. The Rosary is recited
for 21st-century careers in entrepreneurial
nightly in the student residences.
business and media technology.
As the college moves into its fourth year
The Community of matching evangelization with vocation,
they face the usual early challenges. But they
Sunny San Diego is one of the most attractive are approaching them with faith as well as
American cities. With a population of about with the start-up enthusiasm they seek to im-
1.3 million, it presents a broad array of eco- part to their students. Their patron’s admon-
nomic, social and cultural opportunities. The ishment to “Be Not Afraid” might be their
diversified economy includes naval, other watchword.
military and port JP Catholic
facilities; tourism; is establishing
biotec h nolog y; a unique niche
marine science; among Catholic
and many start- colleges. Their ap-
up businesses, proach has earned
particularly in the our admiration,
area of technol- and students with
ogy. an entrepreneurial
Among the streak would do
cultural offerings well to investigate
are the San Diego this opportunity.
Museum of Art, After all it brings
the San Diego Zoo together three at-
and a wide range tractive compo-
of professional nents: A strong
sports teams. San Catholic identity;
Diego is one of the safest large cities in the an impressive, modern curriculum; and one
nation. of the most livable and appealing cities in the
The city, located near the Mexican bor- country.
der, is a major transportation hub. The San
Diego International Airport handles 18 com-

164 The Newman Guide