College is not just to get a job but instill ethical responsibilities says Baylor, Yeshiva, and Catholic University presidents

PHOTO:The Christian Post/Samuel Smith

Presidents from three leading American faith-based universities are agreed that Christian colleges need to instil morals, ethics, and a sense of responsibility in their students so they don't just use college as a means to get a job.

According to The Christian Post, the presidents of Baylor, Yeshiva and Catholic Universities participated in a discussion on the state of higher education held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on February 4.

John Garvey of Catholic University of America and Richard Joel of Jewish Yeshiva University participated in the said discussion. Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr moderated the event.

All the presidents agree that as much as colleges are about providing knowledge to students, it is equally important to prepare students for making ethical and sound judgements in life's tough situations.

"The Jewish tradition believes that there is no bad ideas, that you should explore everything but that you bring a moral, ethical and purposeful judgment to how we relate to those ideas," Joel said.

The Yeshiva University president also strives to promote the school's motto "education is meant to Ennoble and Enable," in essence viewing humans as having more noble purposes than just being the top of the food chain.

"I think it comes to the initial conceptualisation of the worth of a human and whether we are simply the highest animals in the food chain or whether there is something noble about us or sacred. Do we teach them that they are supposed to do more than graze, make money and go shopping?" Joel asked.

Catholic University for America President Garvey agreed, noting his school's motto of providing "wisdom and virtue."

"I am fond of saying that the point of education is to help our students advance in wisdom and virtue. These are both things that we do and they are connected to one another in a surprising way," Garvey said.

"I like Aristotle's phrase that 'when we are educating people, virtue makes us aim at the right mark and wisdom tells us how to choose the proper means.'

He further added that in learning subjects "we cannot make proper judgments about these without having an ethical foundation to make our judgments. Our judgments will be better or worse depending on what kind of people we are."

Another major part of the Yeshiva education is to give students an understanding of their responsibility to help the less fortunate. Joel told the panel that the students in their university have been involved with mission trips in Haiti, Domincan Republic, and Israel.

Starr also echoed the principle, saying that at Baylor University there is a Christian calling to ensure a "caring community" and serving others.