The Catholic University of America is a community of scholars, both faculty and students, set apart to discover, preserve and impart the truth in all its forms, with particular reference to the needs and opportunities of the nation.
As a university, it is essentially a free and autonomous center of study and an agency serving the needs of human society. It welcomes the collaboration of all scholars of good will who, through the process of study and reflection, contribute to these aims in an atmosphere of academic competence where freedom is fostered and where the only constraint upon truth is truth itself.
As a Catholic university, it desires to cultivate and impart an understanding of the Christian faith within the context of all forms of human inquiry and values. It seeks to ensure, in an institutional manner, the proper intellectual and academic witness to Christian inspiration in individuals and in the community, and to provide a place for continuing reflection, in the light of Christian faith, upon the growing treasure of human knowledge.
As a member of the American academic community, it accepts the standards and procedures of American institutions and seeks to achieve distinction within the academic world.
Faithful to the Christian message as it comes through the Church and faithful to its own national traditions, The Catholic University of America has unique responsibilities to be of service to Christian thought and education in the Catholic community as well as to serve the nation and the world.
The Catholic University of America was founded in the name of the Catholic Church in the United States by Pope Leo XIII and the bishops of this country as a national institution of learning. Given its origins and the historic role of its ecclesiastical faculties, this University has a responsibility to the Church in the United States that is special to it: It is called to be an intellectual center of highest quality, where the relation between revealed truth and human truth can be examined in depth and with authority. It seeks, moreover, to do this in the light of the American experience. It is for this reason that, from its inception, the University has enjoyed a unique relationship with the Holy See and the entire Catholic community.
Established as a center for graduate study, The Catholic University of America has evolved into a modern American university, committed not only to graduate but also to undergraduate and professional education and to the cultivation of the arts. At every level, the University is dedicated to the advancement of learning and particularly to the development of knowledge in the light of Christian revelation, convinced that faith is consistent with reason and that theology and other religious studies themselves profit from the broader context of critical inquiry, experimentation and reflection.
The University aims at achieving and maintaining in higher education a leading place among Catholic and other privately endowed, research-oriented institutions of comparable size, purpose and tradition. In particular, it seeks to maintain a position of special excellence in the fields of theology, philosophy and canon law.
The Catholic University of America gives primacy to scholarship and scientific research and to the training of future scholars through its graduate programs, not only in order to advance scientific work but also because it recognizes that undergraduate and professional education of high quality also demands the presence of a faculty that combines teaching and professional activity with fundamental scholarship.
The University seeks the advancement of knowledge within a context of liberal studies, a context which reflects both its concern for the whole person and the distinctive wisdom to which it is heir as a Catholic institution. This dimension of learning is reflected particularly in its undergraduate programs where religious studies and philosophy are regarded as integral to curricula that include requirements in the arts and humanities, language and literature, and the natural and social sciences. Through its professional programs, the University seeks to educate men and women who can represent their respective professions with distinction and who are formed by the learning and values inherent in its academic and Catholic traditions.
In selecting disciplines or fields of specialization to be supported at an advanced level of study and research, the University accords priority to religious and philosophical studies and to those programs which advance the Catholic tradition of humanistic learning and which serve the contemporary and future needs of society and the Church. In supporting particular programs the University takes into account the present and potential quality of programs, making an effort to maintain present academic strengths, especially when these are not represented elsewhere.
The University recognizes that its distinctive character ultimately depends on the intellectual and moral quality of its members. To create an environment that is intellectually stimulating and characterized by the generosity and mutual support required for collegial life and personal growth, the University seeks men and women who are not only professionally competent but who also can contribute to its Catholic, moral and cultural milieu. The University seeks to preserve its tradition of collegial governance, fostering a climate within which all members of the University community have sufficient opportunities to influence deliberation and choice.
Though a research and teaching institution, the University recognizes that it is part of a larger community to which it has certain obligations consistent with its character. Its presence in the nation’s capital and its unique relationship with the Catholic Church in America provide it with opportunities for influencing the resolution of the crucial issues of our time. In providing information and criteria by which public policy is shaped and measured, the University seeks to be of special service to the nation. Similarly, it seeks to be of service to the Church, not only through the preparation of clergy and other leaders for specific roles in the Church, but also through factual investigations and discussions of principles which influence policy. Thus, in dialogue and cooperation with contemporary society, The Catholic University of America sees itself as faithful to the challenge proposed by the Second Vatican Council for institutions of higher learning, namely, to put forth every effort so that "the Christian mind may achieve . . . a public, persistent, and universal presence in the whole enterprise of advancing higher culture" (Gravissimum educationis, n. 10).
(approved by the Board of Trustees on June 21, 1980)