Thursday, December 22, 2011

Oldest Catholic University in the World Remains Catholic in Name and in Reality

The Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium will continue to keep its name Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. In international contexts both Catholic University of Leuven and University of Leuven can be used. With this name the university will also keep its Catholic identity, as a text approved by the Board of Trustees on December 22, 2011 states.

The text which the Rector of KULeuven sent earlier today is found below:

Dear members of the university community,

After an extensive debate over its identity, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven has finalised its mission statement.This document describes the university's Catholic tradition, its identity, its value system, its role as a critical centre of thought in and for the Catholic community, and emphasises its openness to all worldviews. ‪

From its Christian perspective, the university aims to give shape to this long-present openness in a proactive way. As the updated mission statement affirms: "From its Christian perspective, the university endeavours to be a place of open discussion of social, philosophical and ethical issues and a critical centre of thought in and for the Catholic community."

‪The mission statement also emphasises the university’s autonomy. Managerial autonomy is an essential condition for academic freedom. In recent decades, the university has taken care to protect its institutional autonomy and the Catholic Church has always respected this. The university wants to make its identity and autonomy explicit, both in its structure and in its pedagogical project.

‪From this perspective, the university will expand its course offerings in perspectives on religion and meaning, philosophy and ethics to include insights from diverse human perspectives and worldviews as well as from the natural and social sciences, cultural studies and the arts. This effort will be initiated by the Academic Council.

‪The university seeks to further integrate openness, from a Christian perspective, in its staff policy, social engagement, diversity policy, social services for students, treatment of bioethical questions, mission and task of the university parish, development cooperation and humanitarian relief efforts, etc.

Apart from focussing on its philosophical profile, the mission statement also emphasises the university's international orientation, the intensity and interdisciplinarity of its research, the quality of its education and the importance it attributes to serving society in diverse domains.

‪In terms of institutional structure, KU Leuven's Board of Trustees and the General Meetings of the partner university colleges within the KU Leuven Association will be reorganised into a governance union in early 2012. This means that the various general meetings will be composed identically. The reorganisation is being carried out in the context of the integration of the academic programmes of the university colleges into the university. It should be clear from this new institutional structure that the university maintains a close association with the Catholic community, and this in full autonomy. The composition and chairmanships of the aforementioned bodies will be determined by the Board of Trustees in 2012.

Based on extensive consultations, 'KU Leuven' has been chosen as the university’s ‘corporate’ name, effective today. This name, referring to Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, is widely recognised as a household name in a Flemish and Belgian context. In an international context, the name may also be complimented when necessary or desired with the appended name ‘Catholic University of Leuven’, depending on the context or target group, or ‘University of Leuven’, as is already commonly done.

Mark Waer

Jef Roos
Acting Chair of the Board of Trustees

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