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Center for Catholic Thought and Culture Earns National Recognition

Center for Catholic Thought and Culture Earns National Recognition

by Public Relations | October 07, 2020

LATROBE, PA –  The Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture has been named an Oasis of Excellence by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.  

With the Oasis of Excellence distinction, the ACTA recognizes SVC’s Center for Catholic Thought and Culture for its strong liberal arts curriculum and dedication to broadening viewpoint diversity. The ACTA began honoring outstanding programs at colleges and universities that promote the study of American history, Western Civilization and the Great Books in 2014. The Oasis of Excellence project includes more than 70 programs at a wide range of colleges and universities and serves as a valuable resource for alumni and donors committed to supporting a traditional liberal arts education.

Directed by Dr. Jerome C. Foss, associate professor of political science, Saint Vincent College’s Center for Catholic Thought and Culture was established in 2019 as an interdisciplinary academic institute that advances the mission of the College. Through campus programs and sponsored research, the Center engages today’s intellectual climate through sustained reflection upon the Catholic Intellectual and Benedictine wisdom traditions.

“The Saint Vincent Center for Catholic Thought and Culture is honored to be recognized as an Oasis of Excellence by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni,” said Foss, “and we look forward to continuing our mission of serving the Saint Vincent faculty, students and community with programs and events that are indeed truly excellence and that enhance the liberal education we offer as a college.”

The Center promotes scholarship in such areas as theology, philosophy, marriage and family, politics, economics, rhetoric, art and science. It offers a number of formative academic programs for students, faculty and the general public to better inform them of the intellectual rigor of Catholic scholarship and its ability to improve the lives of thoughtful individuals and the health of communities.

Among the programming offered for students are the Benedictine Leadership Studies program, the SVC Summer Institute in Rome, the Faith and Reason Program for young adults and various reading groups, lectures and colloquia. The Saint Vincent College faculty is afforded the opportunity to take part in annual summer seminars, reading groups and other programming to gather and discuss the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and its relationship to liberal education.

Currently, Dr. Jason Jividen, associate professor of political science, is leading a reading group on Xenophon’s The Cryopaedia, while Dr. Lucas Briola, assistant professor of theology, and Dr. Justin Petrovich, assistant professor of business administration, are leading a reading group focused on the concept of Integral Ecology and E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful.  

The Center for Catholic Thought and Culture is guided by four principles: listening carefully and searching for God; lawful freedom, responsibility and the 10 Hallmarks of Benedictine Education; intellectual charity and joyful inquiry; and participation in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

“This kind of rigorous study will equip our students to safeguard our freedoms and democracy,” said Michael Poliakoff, president of the ACTA. “In an age too often defined by ignorance, programs like the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture ensure that students who enter America’s higher education system can grow into the informed citizens our nation needs.”

The Center for Catholic Thought and Culture is comprised of individuals with extensive and diverse backgrounds and education in various fields.  Rev. Thomas Hart, O.S.B., the assistant to the president for mission, serves as the faculty seminar leader, while Rev. Rene Kollar, O.S.B., professor of history, is the Center’s Boniface Wimmer Chair in Monastic Studies.

The Center’s fellows also have significant scholarly backgrounds in various disciplines, including fellow in philosophy Dr. Michael Krom, professor of philosophy; fellow in theology Dr. Catherine Petrany, associate professor of theology; fellow in rhetoric Dr. Melinda Farrington, assistant professor of communication; fellow in science and religion Dr. John Smetanka, vice president of academic affairs and academic dean; and fellow in logic Dr. Jennifer White, assistant professor of mathematics. 

Samantha Firestone, C’18, G’19, serves as the coordinator of both the Center and the BLS program.

For more information on the Saint Vincent College Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, contact Foss at and visit


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