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Southern Catholic College

Dawsonville, Georgia

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 confines
of the Archdiocese of Atlanta more than dou-
bled from 1990 to 2004.
But there was no Catholic college in
the state of Georgia. So Thomas Clements,
a Catholic businessman, and several like-
quick facts
minded people decided there was a need for
a Catholic college in the Atlanta archdiocese. Founded: 2000 (first students in 2005)
Southern Catholic College was launched in Type of institution: Small liberal arts college
Setting: Rural
2000 and opened its doors in September 2005
Undergraduate enrollment: 240 (2008–09
with an inaugural class of 72 students.
academic year)
Clements said, “We are working to build
Total undergraduate cost: $24,500 (tuition,
this college at no cost to the archdiocese in or- room and board for 2009–10)
der to provide a Catholic higher education for Undergraduate majors: Seven
our growing Catholic population.”
Now well-established, with the gradu- Five Key Points
ation of its first class in May 2009, SCC is
undergoing a major new change. Seeking to 1. Control of college transferred to the
Legion of Christ in 2009.
build a national reputation for SCC, the board
of trustees invited the Legion of Christ to take 2. Support for Ex corde Ecclesiae is built
control of the college, and the transfer was into governing documents.
made official in July 2009. The Legion, a reli- 3. A 56-credit core curriculum reflects
gious order of Catholic priests well-known for the Catholic intellectual tradition.
their orthodoxy, has assured students, faculty 4. Most popular majors are business,
and staff that its goal is not to significantly theology and psychology.
alter the college except to increase the num- 5. The attractive campus is located at a
ber of students, expand financial support for former golf resort outside of a small
the college, offer additional spiritual activities town near Atlanta.
and enhance SCC’s strong Catholic identity.

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Southern Catholic College

“What Southern Catholic College has
built in terms of a Catholic school reflects From the
what we would have built ourselves,” said
Financial Aid Office
Ivens Mendonca, the Legion’s Director of Op-
erations in the United States. He also noted
“Financing a college education is not a
that the Legion of Christ operates many high
‘one-size-fits-all’ experience. At Southern
schools in the Atlanta area and nationwide,
Catholic College, we believe in working
and the order hopes SCC will be a next step
individually with each student to create a
for many of them as well as a stepping stone
plan which empowers them to attend one
for the Legion’s graduate programs at the In-
of the most exciting Catholic colleges in
stitute for the Psychological Sciences in Ar-
the country.
lington, Virginia, and the University of Sacra-
mento, California. “Southern Catholic College offers both
Some staff changes at SCC were inevi- merit-based and need-based forms of fi-
table. The founding president Dr. Jeremiah nancial aid. SCC is eligible for federal
Ashcroft has retired and is succeeded by Le- Title IV funds including the Pell, ACG
gion priest Fr. Shawn Aaron. The chaplain Fr. and FSEOG Grants and federal student
Brian Higgins also was dismissed one year and parent loans. SCC also has a limited
before his contract expires, leaving room for number of on-campus jobs available that
a Legion priest to take charge of campus min- do not count as financial aid but provide
istry. Five Legionaries have been added to the students with additional moneys during
board of trustees. the school year.
The transfer of control of SCC to the
Legion occurred in July 2009, just after the “One hundred percent of all students at
Vatican announced that Denver Archbishop SCC receive some form of aid, whether
Charles Chaput would lead an Apostolic merit, need-based or both. Students must
Visitation of the order in the United States complete a FAFSA in order to be consid-
and Canada. The Legion has prominent sup- ered for need-based aid. Merit aid is de-
porters but also critics; Archbishop Edwin termined by the Admissions Committee
O’Brien of Baltimore and others have raised upon admission to the College. No sepa-
questions about the order’s transparency, re- rate application for merit aid is required.
cruitment and formation. The Vatican review
“Further information can be found on the
should provide a healthy distinction between
website at or
rumor and fact, and since the visitation is just
by emailing financialaid@southerncatho-
getting underway it is unclear at the time of or calling 866-722-2003.”
publication of The Newman Guide what effect,
if any, its findings might have on the order
or the operation of the college in the future. and residential villas, attracted students from
Families considering SCC will want to pay at- 26 states in its fourth year (2008-2009) as en-
tention to this process. rollment soared to 240 students. Plans call for
The college is located one hour north the student body to reach 500 over the mid-
of Atlanta on a 100-acre campus outside the term and to eventually rise to 3,000, drawing
small town of Dawsonville on the site of the young men and women from throughout the
former Gold Creek Country Club. The attrac- nation. Perhaps the two factors that have most
tive campus, with includes a lake, waterfall accounted for SCC’s growth are a firm com-

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Southern Catholic College

mitment to Catholic teachings and a strong Southern Catholic’s price tag is some-
core curriculum. The college is strongly sup- what higher than the average college tuition
portive of Ex corde Ecclesiae and enjoys a warm in Georgia, but students struggling with ex-
relationship with the archdiocese. penses should apply anyhow, because finan-
The Integrated Core Curriculum reflects cial aid has been very generous in the college’s
a traditional liberal arts program in the Cath- first years. Every student has received some
olic intellectual tradition. Students need to form of aid, and federal grants and loans are
complete 56 credits in eight disciplines and available. The total cost for tuition, room and
fulfill foreign language proficiency. board in 2009-10 was $24,500.
According to the college, the integrated
core curriculum “offers an internally coher-
ent program of required courses designed
to help students soar on ‘the two wings on
SCC was established under a Board of Fel-
which the human spirit rises to the contem-
lows, tasked with evaluating and upholding
plation of Truth, namely faith and reason’”
the Catholic identity of the college, review-
(this refers to Pope John Paul II’s encyclical
ing appointments of the college president and
Fides et Ratio).
chaplain, and pre-
There are
serving the core
seven majors:
curriculum. The
business, English,
transitional by-
history, integrat-
laws have elimi-
ed sciences, phi-
nated the Board
losophy, psychol-
of Fellows, with
ogy and sacred
the board’s tasks
theology. To date,
assumed by the
the most popu-
Legion of Christ.
lar majors have
The order plans
been business,
to establish a new
sacred theology
oversight board
and psychology.
of about four or
The college also
five Legionaries.
has a cooperative
Former Fel-
elementary edu-
low and SCC
cation program
founder Clements, although no longer an of-
with Brenau University, located about 30
ficial of the college, is helping the Legion of
miles away in Gainesville, Georgia.
Christ with fundraising and will advise SCC’s
Fifty-six percent of the SCC’s students
development office.
last year came from public schools, 32 per-
The college also has a second-tier board
cent from private schools and 12 percent were
of trustees that governs the college’s affairs.
homeschooled. Upwards of 90 percent of the
The predominantly lay board of trustees re-
students are Catholics.
mains largely the same as it was before the
The college received pre-accreditation
Legion of Christ took charge, except that it
from the American Academy for Liberal Edu-
now has five Legion priests, including Father
cation in May 2007 and also plans to seek ac-
Aaron and Fr. Scott Reilly, L.C., director of the
creditation from its regional agency.
Legion’s territory covering the southern Unit-

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Southern Catholic College

ed States. The 20-member board also includes retired in 2009 and has been succeeded by
Archbishop Wilton Gregory of the Arch- Father Aaron. Since his ordination in 2002,
diocese of Atlanta; Monsignor Luis Zarama, Father Aaron has worked as a development
the archdiocese’s vicar general; and Father officer for the Legion of Christ and has served
Dennis Dease, president of the University of on the boards of two Legion-affiliated schools
St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Edward since 2008.
Schroeder, retired international president of He earned his bachelor’s degrees in phi-
UPS, remains chairman of the board. losophy and theology from the Pontifical Ath-
The founding president Dr. Ashcroft, enaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. We
formerly president of East Georgia College, were told by a fellow priest that Father Aaron

Message from the President

Dear Parents and Prospective Students:

Southern Catholic College is a residential coeducational liberal arts
college founded in 2005 for the purpose of developing moral and ethical
leaders. The College operates under the auspices of the Legion of Christ and
is authentically Catholic with an active spiritual community.

The talented, dedicated faculty of Southern Catholic College are prod-
ucts of some of the greatest national and international universities. Each student receives indi-
vidual personal attention.

Student life at Southern Catholic College is based on the development of a nurturing, sup-
portive community. Students are encouraged to take leadership roles in organizations, intramu-
rals and spiritual formation activities.

SCC students reside in beautiful villas with comfortable common areas for social activities.
The villas are gender-specific for personal privacy.

Southern Catholic College students have opportunities to grow intellectually, socially and
spiritually. Every student is on his or her own personal journey. The College’s goal is to assist
each student grow and mature. We believe one day each student will be a leader in his or her
family, community and church.

Come visit Southern Catholic College. You will be impressed with the natural beauty sur-
rounding the College and the warm, inviting atmosphere. We hope you consider becoming a
part of the Southern Catholic College tradition.

Yours in Christ,

Father Sean Aaron, L.C.

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is well-liked and has significant fundraising Academics
experience, important qualities in a difficult
economy. “A college is primarily defined by its academic
dimension,” one Southern Catholic professor
Public Identity told us, “and Southern Catholic is squarely
rooted in a Catholic liberal arts tradition. Our
Clements told us that when he founded the core curriculum is based upon the Catholic
college he “wanted it to be as clear as possible principle and tradition of faith and reason
that Catholicity is to be the overriding prior- working together.”
ity.” He established the Board of Fellows and The theology requirement is satisfied by
several other protections, such as requiring taking three courses, “Introduction to Cathol-
that theology faculty have the mandatum and icism and Sacred Theology,” “Introduction to
preventing professors from changing the core Sacred Scripture” and “History of the Catholic
curriculum on their own. Church and Thought.” All theology courses
The college is solidly committed to the are taught from within the Magisterium. The-
Magisterium and says that it “consults with ology professors have the mandatum; current-
the Archbishop of Atlanta regarding the or- ly, there are two full-time theology professors
thodoxy of the and two adjunct
Catholic doctrine professors who
taught at the Col- are priests of the
lege.” Archdiocese of
The college Atlanta.
has been em- A notable
braced by Arch- recent addition to
bishop Gregory the sacred theol-
and Archbishop ogy department
emeritus Dono- is Catholic author
ghue. Archbishop and apologist Dr.
Gregory has cel- Paul Thigpen.
ebrated opening A particularly
Masses each year. popular elective
He and Arch- in the 2008-2009
bishop Donoghue academic year
concelebrated the was his course
dedication Mass for the college’s new chapel on eschatology. The department also has in-
in November 2005. troduced bioethics among course offerings.
SCC has not had many speakers, but There are three required philosophy
those who have been presented are faithful to courses, including “Philosophy of God and
Catholic teachings. Among the speakers have Creature.” Among the impressive elective
been Thomas Woods, author of the 2005 book philosophy courses is one on “Love and Re-
How the Catholic Church Built Western Civiliza- sponsibility,” an issue of particular impor-
tion, and Joseph Pearce, biographer of G. K. tance to college-age students.
Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. Among other requirements are four his-
tory and political science courses. Another
professor told us of these courses: “They have

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Southern Catholic College

a focus upon the history of ideas, on the role Students at Southern Catholic appear
of religion in general and on the role of the to be engaged in their education. A faculty
Church in particular.” One example is the member told us, “It is encouraging to have
upper-level history course “History of the Pa- students who are so appreciative of the edu-
pacy.” cation they are receiving here. They express
From our interviews, it was clear that a their gratitude, saying how much it means
Catholic apreciation of human dignity per- to them. I’ve had notes on my truck’s wind-
meates the core curriculum. In fact, one of the shield from students.”
required philosophy courses is appropriately
titled “Understanding the Human Person.”
In the area of natural sciences, there is
Spiritual Life
a required course on the principles of scien-
The first building erected on campus was the
tific investigation. According to one profes-
120-seat chapel. There is a daily noon Mass
sor, “Students are made aware of the type of
Monday through Saturday and two Masses
knowledge science discovers and the limits of
on Sunday, 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. One profes-
it. We try to show that scientific knowledge is
sor said, “Masses
one manifestation of
are traditional,
reason, but that ob-
upholding the
jective knowledge in
standards of devo-
the realm of morals
tional liturgies.” It
is accessible through
was reported that
natural reason.”
between 25 and 40
Even in the
students and about
more specialized
half the faculty at-
areas, such as the
tend Mass daily.
business curricu-
No classes are held
lum, students are
during Mass times
required to take a
so students can
course on values, in
may attend.
this case “Business
Con fession s
Leadership, Values
are held four times
and Society.” Here,
weekly and by appointment. Adoration of the
we are told, ethics and the question of treat-
Blessed Sacrament is held every Monday eve-
ment of humans in the for-profit arena are
ning, and recitation of the Rosary takes place
raised. A one-credit course in “Leadership
on Thursday evening. There was a two-day
Studies” is part of the core curriculum.
retreat offered in early 2009 by the Franciscan
About 75 percent of the full-time faculty
Friars of the Renewal. Also, every Friday dur-
and all in the humanities are Catholic. All in-
ing Lent 2009, there were “Living Stations of
terviewees spoke well of the faculty, but two
the Cross” at a series of new statues on cam-
names consistently emerged as exemplary
pus, each of which is five-feet tall; students
teachers: Dr. Kelly Bowring in theology and
acted out the key parts, including the cruci-
Dr. Herbert Hartmann (formerly of Thomas
fixion of Jesus on the Cross.
Aquinas College) in philosophy.
The student group Apostolic Works un-
As part of the college’s academic support
dertakes service projects, supports pro-life
program, there is a peer tutor program.
activities and engages in Bible study. Stu-

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dents have attended the March for Life both there is no visitation by a member of the op-
in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. A number posite sex at any time. A resident assistant is
of students also get involved in youth minis- assigned to each villa. Chastity is encouraged
try work at local parishes. by the college rules, and faculty members talk
about it in lectures. No major problems have
surfaced in the residential units.
Student Activities Students have access to the Neighbor-
hood Health Care Center, which is 10 miles
Besides Apostolic Works, there are several
from campus. Chestatee Regional Hospital is
other student groups covering such areas as
located in Dahlonega, 14 miles away, and the
art, dance, debate, drama, liturgical music and
larger Northside Hospital-Forysth is in Cum-
choir. There also is a student newspaper, The
ming, 25 miles south of the college.
Highlander Herald, and club athletic teams in
cross country, golf, soccer and tennis. Many
students participated in the 2009 Marches The Community
for Life in Atlanta, Georgia and Washington,
D.C. The population of nearby Dawsonville was
Since the col- only 815 people in
lege is relatively 2007. It is the coun-
new, social tradi- ty seat of Dawson
tions are still de- County, which has
veloping. Among about 21,000 resi-
the recent student- dents. The area has
driven activities has a NASCAR heri-
been the screening tage, and it is re-
of classical movies. called during the
Students are able to annual Moonshine
mingle at the Cam- Festival, which
pus Center and the has been held in
Campus Coffee Dawsonville every
House, “Drogo’s Al- fall for the past 40
ley.” A 27-hole golf years.
course abuts the Within the
campus. county is Amicalola Falls State Park, which
features a 729-foot waterfall, the tallest of
its kind in the eastern United States. Hiking
Residential Life opportunities exist along the Appalachian
Trail, the 2,175-mile challenge that begins (or
The campus is situated on a former golf re-
ends) eight miles from the falls and extends
sort, and students live in nine villas that
to central Maine. Boating is available at Lake
once formed part of it. Students are grouped
three to each room with its own bathroom,
Georgia Route 400 is the main artery
and there generally are four rooms per floor.
from Dawsonville to the state capital of At-
These residential facilities are near capacity
lanta, about 60 miles away. Atlanta has a
and there are already plans to expand them.
population of 500,000 and is the hub of a 5.5
Each villa is restricted to a single sex, and
million-person metropolitan area, which has

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Southern Catholic College

nearly tripled since 1970. in recent years. Although the college will
Among the many cultural and entertain- certainly appeal to those in Georgia and the
ment opportunities in Atlanta are four major- southeast, its strong Catholic mission should
league sports franchises: baseball (Braves), appeal to students nationwide—and the new
football (Falcons), basketball (Hawks) and influence of the Legion of Christ should en-
hockey (Thrashers). Southern Catholic has hance SC’s Catholic identity.
sponsored a number of trips for students to The formula here is simple and yet rather
Atlanta. uncommon among most Catholic colleges to-
The Atlanta region is served by Harts- day: Be faithful to the Church and its teach-
field-Jackson International Airport, which ings, and immerse young men and women in
served more passengers than any other air- the great Catholic intellectual tradition. This
port in the world each year between 1998 and is a winning formula, and there is every rea-
2006. Amtrak also services the city, and there son to believe SCC and its students will pros-
is a vast network of highways that makes the per in the years ahead.
city accessible from every direction.

The Bottom Line
Southern Catholic College is another example
of the crop of small liberal arts colleges cre-
ated to meet the needs of Catholic students

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