Catholic higher education in the United States has undergone a dramatic sea change in the past thirty years. Some fear that the change is at the cost of the loss of Catholic identity. Others embrace the new-found status of Catholic colleges and universities as a sign that Catholics have been assimilated into American culture. Some voice concern that what happened to institutions like Harvard, Yale, and Duke, founded under Protestant auspices, will also occur with Georgetown, Notre Dame, and Fordham. Still others reject the recent Vatican overtures to have the local bishop oversee the Catholic nature of a wide spectrum of Catholic institutions. What complicates the discussion is the realization that the vast majority of these institutions were founded, not by the hierarchy, but by religious orders at a period when the church in the United States, unlike

that in Europe, resorted to colleges and universities to preserve the religious identity of an immigrant population and enable it to move socio-economically into the middle class. The American Catholic university was not until recently the locus of research and scholarship, and teaching of Catholic doctrine took second place to the inculcation of Catholic values and practice. The institutions reflected the changing needs of the Catholic population.