Published on August 23, 2018 by Joshua R Monroe

IVP Academic, 2017 | 385 pages

A Book Summary from Books At a Glance

By Greg Cochran


Table of Contents

PART ONE: Building the University

1 Creating the Original Blueprint of a University
2 A Cracked Pinnacle and Shifting Foundation: Attempting to Repair the University (1517- 1800)
3 The State Takes Over the Academic Palace in Europe 1770-1870
4 The American Idea of the Universitv: Freedom Within the Bounds of Science (1825-1900)
5 Fracturing the Soul: The Creation of the American Multiversity (1869-1969)

PART TWO: The Fragmentation of the Multiversity

6 The Fragmented Soul of the Professor
7 Falling to Pieces: Declaring Independence from Curricular Coherence
8 Fragmenting Students: The Curricular/Cocurricular Division
9 Chief Fragmentation Officer: The Advent of the Professional Administrator
10 The Multiversitv’s Religion: The Unifying and Fragmenting Force of Athletics
11 The Consequences of Multiversities with Fragmented Souls: Online and For-Profit Higher Education

PART THREE: Restoring the Soul of the University

12 When Theology Serves the Soul of the University
13 Reimagining the Academic Vocation
14 Reimagining Academic Disciplines
15 Reimagining the Curricular: Transforming the Bubble to a Greenhouse
16 Reimagining Academic Leadership

Conclusion:  Can a University with a Singular Soul Exist?



Christian books rest on solid ground when their words reflect the teaching of Jesus. The authors of Restoring the Soul of the University offer instructions from Jesus before providing any opinions of their own. Quoting the Gospel of Matthew, they ask, “What good will it be…to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

From the title to the end of the book, these thoughts control the narrative of the book. The key question being asked (and answered) by the authors is, “Can the soul of the University be saved?” According to the authors, UNI-versities need to be saved from the disintegration and fragmentation brought about by the prevailing MULTI-versity approach to higher education. Saving the university requires reinvigorating its soul. By soul, the authors mean more than purpose. They intend for universities to recover their identities, their stories. Ultimately, the authors aim to help universities reconnect their own stories with “the transcendent story of the universe and its Author” (5).

Three authors engage in this ambitious effort together to help universities—particularly Christian universities—recover and reinvigorate the souls of their institutions. Two of the authors—Nathan Alleman and Perry Glanzer are professors of education at Baylor. The third author—Todd Ream—is professor of higher education at Taylor University.

The authors approach their task in three distinct parts. Part one (chapters one through five) focuses on the origins of our contemporary concepts of a university. By the end of part one, systemic problems become apparent. Part two (chapters six through eleven) traces the demise of the university through fragmentation. Part two also chronicles the rise of the multi-versity to fill the void created by the uni-versity’s demise. Part three (chapters twelve through sixteen) draws a blueprint for restoring the lost soul of the western university.

In part one, origins of the university are discussed. Beginning with Hugh of St. Victor, the authors trace the development of western universities since the founding of the School of St. Victor. Influenced by St. Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor wrote his Didascalicon as a blueprint of how to build an academic institution which answers questions about who we are, why we should learn, what we should learn, and how we should learn (19). Hugh’s writing was more comprehensive than other works of other authors who came before him.

For Hugh, philosophy would be the foundation upon which to build the university. Philosophy, however, meant more than it means today. Philosophy sought to explain all questions—particularly in relation to God. Understanding ourselves and the world in relation to God, then, would be instrumental to the establishment of the university. Philosophy included both the pursuit of wisdom and the practice of virtue for Hugh.

Hugh understood philosophy to be richly supplied with various liberal arts. Instead of considering the arts to be “secular,” Hugh believed the liberal arts would serve as “tools supplied by God’s common grace for understanding wisdom, acquiring virtue, and repairing fallen humanity” (23). Hugh departed from the trivium and the quadrivium to classify twenty-one different arts (listed in Table 1, page 23). Hugh argued for a single institution to teach all twenty-one of the arts.

While recognizing the remarkable achievement of Hugh’s schema, the authors point out what proved to be a damaging flaw in in its vision: Hugh made a place in the curriculum for the discipline of theology. Hugh was probably following Boethius in this practice. For Hugh, “both the reason for learning the liberal arts and the content of the liberal arts were inseparable from theology. Hugh sought to elevate the importance of the liberal arts and not devalue theology. Yet the structures we create sometimes have unintended consequences” (25).

Hugh believed three ingredients were necessary to formulate learning. Students needed a basic aptitude for learning. Students needed skills such as reading, analyzing, and memorizing. And students needed to possess virtue beyond nature. As a result, students would be expected to practice humility and learn to act in obedience in order to gain true wisdom.

The remainder of chapter one hints at problems inherent in the early formation of the university. Hugh and others sought to place theology at the top, as the queen of the sciences, but such a placement had the unintended effect of compartmentalizing theology. Such a compartmentalization only grew worse with the advent of a specific faculty for theology and, later, philosophy.

Chapter two takes direct aim at identifying the cracks in the foundation of the early university. The Roman Catholic outlook on the university (including theology and philosophy) remained intact until around 1500. All seventy universities in 1500 were thoroughly Roman Catholic. But that unity dissipated rapidly under the influence of the Protestant Reformation.

By this time, universities tended to divide knowledge into four distinct parts: theology, law, medicine, and the arts (philosophy). The Reformation brought Protestantism to the university. Protestants like William Ames followed the blueprint provided by Peter Ramus, the Catholic Professor killed in France in the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

Following Ramus, Ames determined to bring theology down from its lofty status (which meant it was studied only by a few privileged clergy) and incorporate it into all of the arts. For Ames, theology should be for everyone. Philosophy should be taught not by Aristotle, but by a theologian.

The authors lament the fact that Ames’s idea of theology permeating the university never really took hold, even among Puritan colleges in America. In fact, theology became. . .

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Restoring the Soul of the University: Unifying Christian Higher Education in a Fragmented Age

IVP Academic, 2017 | 385 pages

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