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Sacrifice and Survival

Identity, Mission, and Jesuit Higher Education in the American South

R. Eric Platt

Publication Year: 2014

Sacrifice and Survival recounts the history and development of Jesuit higher education in the American South.

R. Eric Platt examines in Sacrifice and Survival the history and evolution of Jesuit higher education in the American South and hypothesizes that the identity and mission of southern Jesuit colleges and universities may have functioned as catalytic concepts that affected the “town and gown” relationships between the institutions and their host communities in ways that influenced whether they failed or adapted to survive.

The Catholic religious order known as the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) manages a global network of colleges and universities with a distinct Catholic identity and mission. Despite this immense educational system, several Jesuit institutions have closed throughout the course of the order’s existence. Societal pressures, external perceptions or misperceptions, unbalanced curricular structures rooted in liberal arts, and administrators’ slow acceptance of courses related to practical job seeking may all influence religious-affiliated educational institutions. The religious identity and mission of these colleges and universities are fundamentals that influence their interaction with external environs and contribute to their survival or failure.

Platt traces the roots of Jesuit education from the rise of Ignatius Loyola in the mid-sixteenth century through the European development of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit educational identity and mission, the migration of Jesuits to colonial New Orleans, the expulsion of Jesuits by Papal mandate, the reorganization of Jesuit education, their attempt to establish a network of educational institutions across the South, and the final closure of all but two southern Jesuit colleges and a set of high schools.

Sacrifice and Survival explores the implications of the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, yellow fever, Georgia floods, devastating fires, the Civil War, the expansion of New Orleans due to the 1884 Cotton Centennial Exposition, and ties between town and gown, as well as anti-Catholic/anti-Jesuit sentiment as the Society of Jesus pushed forward to create a system of southern institutions. Ultimately, institutional identity and mission critically impacted the survival of Jesuit education in the American South.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. ix-xiv

As any author will tell you, a book is never really singly authored; numerous persons aid in its construction, review, and final publication. So it was with this book. As I reflect upon the creation of this work, research performed in archives, and the numerous conversations that prompted its development, a host of thanks come to mind that need to be paid. First and foremost, I would like to thank my parents...

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Introduction: Defining Survival

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pp. 1-15

How does a university survive? What factors keep the lights on in one college and permanently closes the doors at another? As Stone mentions above, a university has its own history and life, and it possesses the ability to perform functionally or act in such a manner as to be considered outdated and incongruent with its surroundings. But what foundational catalytic factors affect its ability to survive...

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1. Tracing the Society of Jesus and Jesuit Higher Education

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pp. 16-36

In order to fully understand how institutional identity, mission, and town and gown relationships affect the survival of Jesuit colleges and universities, it is important to become familiar with the history of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit method of instruction, and the order’s expansion into the American South. In his book...

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2. Jesuit Identity, Jesuit Mission, and Southern Locale

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pp. 37-57

As with any history, context and interpretive concepts are essential. As such, chapter 1 illuminated the all-important foundation of the Society of Jesus, how I gnatius Loyola’s own educational experiences factored into the development of Jesuit higher education, and the nineteenth-and early twentieth-century ideological and social climate of the South in regard to Catholics and Jesuit colleges...

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3. Failure to Survive

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pp. 58-99

Now that we understand how factors of institutional identity and mission affect societal relationships, thereby influencing college and university survivability, we can fully examine histories of individual southern Jesuit colleges and universities to determine how they functioned, evolved, adapted, failed, or survived. In the following cases, three college micro-histories are presented. Each case details an institutional...

Image Plates

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pp. 100-104

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4. Closure and Amalgamation

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pp. 105-129

As a college or university evolves, so too does its curricular structure. Changes in societal expectations, legitimacy standards, or developmental issues related to ideological conceptions of “high school” and “college” curriculum impose pressure on administrators and faculty to adapt their educational institution if they want it to survive. As has been shown, the traditional Jesuit college consisted of a preparatory...

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5. Institutional Survival

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pp. 130-161

Having considering the previous micro-histories, we will now investigate two Jesuit institutions that have survived to the present day: Loyola University New Orleans and Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama. Even though both Loyola University and Spring Hill College have passed into the twenty-first century, both institutions faced hardships and legitimacy issues that influenced their relationships...

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Conclusion: Adapting to the South

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pp. 162-168

In probing the history of Jesuit higher education in the American South, this study has formulated an understanding of how some Jesuit institutions failed to survive while others adapted and thrived. This book presents a possible explanation as to how institutional identity, mission, and town and gown relationships work together to either promote or inhibit institutional survivability. As such, it...

Appendix: Letter Addressed to the Fathers, Scholastics and Brothers of the New Orleans Province by Rev. Fr. Norbert de Boynes

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pp. 169-176


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pp. 177-202


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pp. 203-214


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pp. 215-223

E-ISBN-13: 9780817387426
E-ISBN-10: 0817387420
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817318192
Print-ISBN-10: 0817318194

Page Count: 240
Illustrations: 8
Publication Year: 2014