Joyfully Catholic: Ben Nguyen Joins Leadership at UST
University of St. Thomas-Houston announces the appointment of Ben Nguyen, MTS, JCL, J.D., D.Min-ABD, as Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students as of June 1. He will also serve as an adjunct professor in the Cameron School of Business Master of Ecclesial Administration & Management Program (MEAM).
In his new role, Nguyen draws from deep theological and educational roots and his great respect for the Catholic and Basilian tradition of educating the whole person. He sees the Church’s call toward a Eucharistic revival as integral to his work and UST as a beacon calling students to become their bold selves inspired by their faith.
Nguyen's appointment begins a new business model for Student Affairs at a Catholic university. His charge is to make faith central to everything. Joyfully Catholic! To accomplish this goal, Nguyen will help infuse Campus Ministry's offerings across the campus instead of being siloed in one particular office ancillary to the University's mission. It is the mission.
"Campus Ministry is a key component in all that we do," Nguyen said, "so much so that at a beautiful Catholic university such as ours, we cannot confine the work to just one office. The Student Affairs Division, and all of us who serve the mission of this Catholic university, see our roles as 'apostolic' or 'ministerial.' We help make Jesus Christ present to our students and our students present to Jesus Christ."
“UST is on the cusp of a vibrancy never experienced before,” Dr. Chris Evans, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Enrollments continue to grow, our academic portfolio is expanding, and we are about to build a new dormitory. Today is the perfect time to ponder a new integration of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs in a way that orients us to our unique Catholic mission and identity. For this, Ben Nguyen is the perfect choice for UST as we embark on that new experience.”
Fostering a Coherent Vision of Life
"The role of the Student Affairs Division, like the role of the academic schools on campus, is to foster this formation of the human person in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Nguyen said. “A UST education seeks to educate the whole person. Just this past April, Pope Francis, speaking about Catholic universities, explained that this means 'forming the head, hands and heart together: preserving and enhancing the link between learning, doing and feeling in the noblest sense.' In this way, [Catholic universities] will be able to offer not only an excellent academic curriculum but also a coherent vision of life inspired by the teachings of Christ."
Catholic Education is Evangelization
In addition, he noted Pope Francis’ bold statement that 'Catholic education is also evangelization: bearing witness to the joy of the Gospel and its power to renew and provide hope and strength in the world today.' Nguyen believes the work of the Student Affairs offices is more than just providing student events or activities (though, of course, these are vital!).
Education and Career
Nguyen holds a B.A. in Musicology from the University of Kansas; a Master of Theological Studies (MTS) from the University of Dallas; a Pontifical Licentiate Degree in Canon Law (JCL) from The Catholic University of America; a Juris Doctorate Law Degree (J.D.), Hamline University School of Law; and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min-ABD) in Biblical Exposition, Nashotah House Theological Seminary.
Nguyen is a pontifically licensed and practicing canon lawyer in the Roman Catholic Church and a civil attorney. Before coming to UST, he served for seven years as the Chancellor/Canonical Counsel and Theological Advisor for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas. For the past 20 years, he has worked in Roman Catholic dioceses in various positions such as Chancellor, Director of Communications, Director of Sacred Worship, Defender of the Bond, and Promoter of Justice in Diocesan Tribunals.
In education, he taught as an adjunct or associate professor at the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation; the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary; and Ave Maria University, where he was the Assistant to the Director of the Institute for Pastoral Theology.
He also served as Upper School Dean at Providence Academy, La Crosse, WI.
Faculty and Staff: Distinguished to unite
Nguyen wants faculty and staff to know that the Dean of Students and the Student Affairs division are co-workers in this beautiful part of the vineyard of Our Lord that is our University. Our patron, St. Thomas, reminds us that we distinguish to unite, and our work determines student life and academic life.
UST Students: We accompany you on your journey to fullness
He would like UST students to know that the Student Affairs division and its offices care deeply about them and their formation. Nguyen said, “Compelled by the love of Jesus Christ and the Church, our passion is to reach out continually to them and to accompany them on their journey towards becoming more fully the men and women God intended them to be."
UST can be the Shining Light in this Eucharistic Revival
"Among the many diverse areas of work I'm privileged to participate in here at UST, I'm particularly excited about ‘Eucharistic revival,’ called for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen said.”Many look to Catholic institutions like UST to become leaders in this revival. I'm excited to do my part to help. I firmly believe that UST can be a shining light in this exciting revival since our identity is in Jesus Christ, and this is the bold self we want to be."