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Professor Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor, Australian Catholic University

  • 04 May 2016
  • Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

The appearance by Australian Catholic University (ACU) Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven proved to be another major drawcard for Sydney Catholic Business Network attendees with over 200 coming to the Four Seasons on 4th May 2016 to hear the lawyer, academic and prolific writer.

Professor Craven commenced his Vice-Chancellorship with ACU in 2008 and participates in numerous boards and bodies including membership of Universities Australia (UA), the peak body representing Australian universities. 

What comes clearly from his presentation is his obvious pride in being associated with a Catholic university, especially one that has grown in strides not only in its student membership (rising from 14,000 to 34,000 students in eight years), but in its stature as a true intellectual force that can stand shoulder to shoulder among Australia’s tertiary institutions, consistently placing equal top in numerous academic disciplines.

While he allows the ‘Catholic university’ a brief congratulatory pat on the back for its long intellectual history (as evidenced by the swathe of Catholic tertiary institutions worldwide), he firmly places both its major challenges and achievements on loftier grounds.  The main challenges for Catholic tertiary institutions lie in their ability to provide or continue to deliver a highly competitive world-class education, as well as maintain a credible Catholic identity.  A ‘Catholic university’ must not only be a ‘supreme university’, it must also be ‘supremely Catholic’ in its mission, admission and academic credentials.  The age of ‘cottage higher education’, as Professor Craven calls it, is over. 

Among the list of things a Catholic university must possess, Professor Craven includes ‘genuine intellectual capacity, strong assured teaching, a genuine research base, a resource infrastructure capable and fit for purpose of the job and an absolute commitment to the nature of a Catholic university’.  On the flip side of the coin, such an institution must not scandalise or undermine the Church, abandon it in its time of difficulty and be a financial drain on the Church.

As a fertile breeding ground for the next generation of academics, entrepreneurs, theologians and philosophers, the ‘Catholic university’ is an extremely important intellectual resource that must be nourished properly to allow the Church to transcend religious and secular boundaries as a strong and clever voice on the world stage.