Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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Church State Issues

Mixing government & religion at ASU????

Mar 22, 2012

By: Mike

Ariz ona Republic

Catholic college partners with ASU

University of Mary will teach theology

by Michael Clancy - Mar. 21, 2012 09:38 PM

The Republic |

A small, relatively unknown Catholic college will begin offering Catholic studies and theology classes next fall at the Newman Center at Arizona State University.

Classes from the University of Mary, a 3,000-student college based in Bismarck, N.D., will be considered for college credit at ASU, and ASU classes will be considered toward a University of Mary degree if a student wants to pursue a major in its two sets of courses.

Both schools are reviewing each other's classes.

According to ASU officials, students enrolled full time at ASU would not be permitted to count University of Mary classes against the requirements of their majors, but they could take them in addition to their required classes. ASU does not offer classes in either Catholic studies or theology.

ASU officials likened the presence of the Catholic university to that of the Mormon Church's Tempe Institute of Religion -- in effect, extracurricular work. The only difference is that the University of Mary classes could add to the total number of credits an ASU student has on a transcript.

University of Mary said it will be offering majors in the two areas of study. To choose those majors, students would have to be enrolled in that school and take additional courses from ASU or any other college from which the Catholic school accepts transfer credit.

The Rev. James Shea, president of University of Mary, said the idea arose "from needs articulated in the Catholic high-school system here."

There are six Catholic high schools in the Phoenix area, six others elsewhere in Arizona.

No Catholic college has actually set up a campus in Arizona, despite numerous attempts. Benedictine University of Lisle, Ill., will be the first, and it is scheduled to begin offering a limited number of classes in Mesa in the fall under an agreement signed with that city. University of Mary currently offers a master's degree program in Catholic education to teachers in the Phoenix Diocese school system, and other Catholic colleges have offered classes that would count toward degrees.

For now, the nearest Catholic colleges are in California.

"We want to provide classes that are relevant and meet students where they are," said Shea, who expects demand to be high.

Besides the majors, which would require the student to enroll in University of Mary, not ASU, Shea said ASU students could take minors in those fields.

The Newman Center is adjacent to the ASU Tempe campus at 230 E. University Drive.