Presidents' perception on implementation of the Dominican charism in the American Dominican college

Mary Eileen O'Brien, Fordham University


The purpose of this study is to ascertain the vitality and influence of the Dominican charism in those 15 American Dominican colleges that offer at least a baccalaureate degree. The research focused on the perception of the presidents because it is they who have ultimate responsibility for the articulation of the charism and the vision it provides for these colleges. The elements of the charism are embodied in a commitment to intellectual, contemplative, and communal pursuits with the recommendation that the fruit of these involvements be shared with others. Using the history of church-college relationships over the past 40 years as a backdrop, and the leadership theory of Robert Greenleaf as a guide, a quantitative and qualitative study was undertaken. An 85-question survey tool was employed in the quantitative phase. Data were reported using descriptive statistics and graphics. Chi-square analyses were conducted to determine associations among categorical data. The Mann-Whitney test and correlation analysis were applied to measure differences and relationships among variables. A semistructured interview guide was used in the meeting with six presidents. Data from the qualitative phase were summarized in narrative form providing the backgrounds of presidents and colleges with emphasis on relationship with their founders. Understandings of the nature of the charism and its formative role on campus were reported along with a summary of current practices that enhance its influence. The last reported data were from both the survey and the interview on the influence of Ex Corde Ecclesiae since its implementation in 2001. The conclusions support the hypothesis that the charism does play a significant role in providing a contemporary educational vision. The founding institutions, in spite of aging members and fewer recruits, provide a remarkable level of support. Structures and rituals are in place in some institutions that could serve as models for others. Clearly, as leadership is transferred from the religious to the laity, there are indications that the colleges will continue to flourish. The commitment and dedication of the current lay leadership provide a solid basis for a hopeful future.

Subject Area

School administration|Higher education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

O'Brien, Mary Eileen, "Presidents' perception on implementation of the Dominican charism in the American Dominican college" (2004). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3134446.