Vision Statement: Part Seven
Size on a Humane Scale
One of the features of the majority of American colleges and universities is their large, even immense, size. Today, students at "Behemoth U." number in the tens of thousands, and the individual student is lost in a sea of anonymity. However, whether with one thousand or forty thousand students, the reigning ambiance on such campuses is that of the general, "mass" culture. In earlier years, when the prevailing culture supported moral virtue and the "common decencies," the fact that the student body differed little from the surrounding culture presented no problem. In today's world, however, there is little cultural support for virtue of any kind; indeed, our secular, relativistic, neo-pagan culture is increasingly hostile to the morally good, the intellectually true, and the aesthetically beautiful. We are in the midst of a culture war of vast proportions, and the battlefield is the heart and soul of our youth.
Christendom College's commitment to a humane scale in the undergraduate academic community, in which every faculty member and student may be known personally to one another, is therefore imperative. At the founding, the upper limit was set at about 450 students. The reasons for this limitation are several. First of all, the model for Christendom's residential college is more the society of the extended family than the "multiversity." Christendom College is a residential community where virtually the entire student body lives on campus in residence halls, where each student is immersed in a vibrant, living Catholic counter-culture twenty-four hours a day. Women's and men's residence halls are located on opposite sides of the campus, with the chapel, refectory, and classrooms located in the center. The residence halls are conducive to social and intellectual interaction in a home-like atmosphere, as is the common dining area. Thus, in our resident academic community there are no "nameless faces." Each person is known as an individual, not as a mere statistic, and is valued as an immortal soul redeemed by Christ.
With smaller overall size, classes more easily may be kept at an optimum size, where classroom interaction between students and professor is both encouraged and practiced. Faculty members take meals with students in the dining hall and often meet informally with students.
Furthermore, Christendom College is actively engaged in the culture wars to reclaim the hearts and souls of its students to Christ and His Church. We are able to reclaim their hearts and souls by maintaining a manageable student population and by integrating each new entering class intellectually, spiritually, morally and socially into the Christendom community.
Our task is aided by the physical environment of the campus. The College's hundred acres, situated northeast of historic Front Royal, Virginia, include lovely grassy fields and serene woods overlooking the Shenandoah River. The grounds will comfortably accommodate facilities for up to approximately 450 students while retaining a pastoral character. All campus facilities have been built to complement this natural setting and to be conducive to study and reflection.
Lastly, the goal of 450 will produce an economy of scale that would be relatively easy to maintain, without the constant need to expend great energies in fund raising and recruiting. The energies of the College administration, from the President on down, then might be devoted more single-mindedly to the educational mission of the College.