Learn About the Core Fellows Program at UST
“Our approach to the Core is about fostering students' intellectual awareness of themselves as human persons and what it means to be human so that they can live and flourish like one. By building themselves up as persons, they build up the basis for their professional success. Liberal learning, understood in this way, is a transformative experience.”
- Dr. Andrew Hayes, director of the Department of the Core, division dean of Liberal Studies and associate professor of Theology
Dr. Andrew Hayes, Director of the Department of the Core, division dean of Liberal Studies, and associate professor of Theology, visited with campus newsletter staff to answer questions about the new Core Fellows Program at UST. Learn about its origins, who serves as a Core Fellow and why intellectual community is important to them.
Q: How did the development of the Core Fellows come about?
A. The Core Fellows program has roots in a desire for improved cooperation between the courses in pursuit of a more thorough synthesis of knowledge. In many ways, this is a return to our roots. At UST, we have always aspired to follow John Paul II's Ex Corde Ecclesiae and the model of the original medieval universities by imparting to students a synthesis of knowledge and a coherent education.
The QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) proposed and adopted in 2015 was initially an exercise in Core curricular coherence, although the QEP eventually evolved away from this original idea. Dr. Thomas Harmon, associate professor of Theology, realized that we could achieve that coherence better if we made the Core Curriculum into a dedicated department with its own faculty. This division of labor would allow the Core to focus on providing the foundations for the life of the mind across all disciplines through its three core goals of cultivating self-knowledge, fostering intellectual skills, and imparting the beginnings of wisdom. This leaves departments, such as Communications, Biology, or Drama, free to focus on the proper goals of their major programs and other offerings.
Q. Is Core Fellows a unique concept to UST?
A. It is unique to UST. Very few universities or colleges treat the Core Curriculum as its own program. Typically, colleges and universities rely on faculty from distinct departments to teach more-or-less disconnected courses to fulfill "general education" requirements. Such courses are usually spoken of as "service" courses, meaning that the faculty who teach them are generally more invested in upper-division courses within their areas of expertise. These general education courses are also taught mainly by adjunct and contingent instructors. Our model is unique because it is based on recruiting and developing full-time faculty experts in the tradition of liberal learning, faculty who are dedicated to working together to provide our students with a coherent and compelling education.
Q. How do you describe a Core Fellows faculty position?
A. It is an ongoing academic appointment to teach in a particular discipline, such as English or Political Science, specifically for the Core Curriculum. Faculty who hold such appointments are selected for their knowledge of, and commitment to, the classical tradition of liberal learning, as articulated primarily in the thought of St. John Henry Newman and Josef Pieper, and for their expertise in their particular discipline. Many have multi-disciplinary training, including a background in great books education. UST's Core is not, however, a great books Core.
Q: How many Core Fellows do we have at UST?
A: We have 20 Core Fellows in the program, and this number will likely increase in future years.
Q. Who are the current Core Fellows?
A. Andrew Hayes, Theology, Director
Dominic Aquila, History
Clinton Brand, English
Brian Carl, Philosophy
Timothy Furlan, Ethical Leadership
George Harne, Music
Joshua Hren, Humanities (English and Creative Writing)
Sr. Maria Frassati Jakupcak, English
Jon Kirwan, Theology
Kristina Leyden, Nursing
Martin Lockerd, English
Eric Mabry, Theology and Philosophy (Visiting)
Carlos Monroy, Computer Science
Albert Ribes-Zamora, Biology
Megan Russo, Political Science
Fr. Raphael Mary Salzillo, Philosophy
David Squires, Philosophy
Corey Stephan, Theology
Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, Theology
Christopher Wolfe, Political Science
Q. Are they also instructors, assistant, and associate professors but non-tenured?
A. The Core Fellows are a mix of junior and senior faculty. Some are tenured associate professors who are dual-appointed in their home discipline and the Core Fellows. Two are full professors, and at least one holds an endowed chair. The newest fellows are solely appointed in the Core at the rank of assistant professor. In due time, they will be eligible for promotion. They represent a broad array of disciplines, including Political Science, History, Nursing, Biology, Philosophy, Theology, English and Musicology.
A few faculty who are not full-fledged Core Fellows serve as Core instructors. Part of their teaching load is given over to the Core, but they do not have additional responsibility for core oversight and development.
Q. Are they assigned to a discipline like history, English, etc.?
A. Yes. Most of the core classes are not interdisciplinary, and, like other courses, they belong to established disciplines.
Q. To whom do they report in administration?
A. The Core Fellows who are solely appointed to teach in the Core Curriculum report to the Director of the Core Department, who is also the Division Dean for Liberal Studies. The Core Fellows who are dual appointed, report to two chairs or if they are already a chair or director, two division deans.
The Core Fellows, as a group, is a department within the Division of Liberal Studies. The new Core Curriculum is still being phased in. Like all other departments, the Core Fellows will have a departmental page in the University directory.
Q. Tell us more about the Core Fellows coffees and other events held on campus for faculty. What is the goal of these informal activities?
A. Dr. Martin Lockerd, assistant professor of English and a Core Fellow organizes collaborative events to introduce our unique approach to liberal learning to students and the campus community. These also aim to foster student success in partnership with various non-academic units, such as Counseling and Wellness. They are also about forming friendships based on shared interests in the things that matter most. A key part of St. John Henry Newman's vision of liberal learning is the value of community outside the academic classroom setting. It is also a Basilian core value. We want students to realize they are part of seeking the higher things together, seeking greater things in concert with their faculty mentors and peers.