Monday, June 28, 2010

Fons Novus
Spring 2010
The Newsletter of San Elijo College


Fall 2010 Course Offering

San Elijo College is happy to announce its first course offering. We will be offering a semester long course on the great works of ancient Greek literature. We will be reading Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days, Homer's Illiad and Odyssey, as well as plays by Aeschlyus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes.

The course is open to degree seeking students as well as anyone interested in these great books.

We will be meeting on Tuesday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m. beginning on August 31 through December 14.

Our location in the San Elijo Hills Town Center is to be announced. Please see our course schedule on the college website for the reading list and meeting dates.

Classical Christian Education Lectures Online

All of the videos from our past symposium and summer lectures are online. Our lectures feature: Dinesh D'Souza, John Mark Reynolds, and Peter Kreeft, as well as others. The lecture by Peter Kreeft from our December 2009 symposium is one of the finest statements of a Christian view of the liberal arts and classical education. If you weren't at the lecture and have a passion for classical liberal arts, check out Dr. Kreeft's lecture here.

College Courses for Home School High School Students

San Elijo College is proud to announce our home school course offerings.

San Elijo College
instructors are available to teach courses "on demand" for any advanced junior and senior level high school students in our area. Such courses include any of our great books curriculum courses as well as typical college classes which our instructors have taught at other local universities, including:

• Freshman Composition
• Introduction to Philosophy
• Critical Thinking
• Great Books of the West

Please contact the administration for additional information on arranged courses for your home school group.


ISI Conference

San Elijo College would like to encourage you to attend a day long conference sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in Rancho Santa Fe, California (just a few miles from the college). Attendees must register for the event and can do so here: Register for ISI Event.

This year's conference theme is:

"The Economic Crisis in Context"
Here is the information:

June 12, 2010
The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe
5951 Linea Del Cielo
Rancho Santa Fe, CA

Lunch will be served and a reception will follow the conference. This event is complimentary and guests are welcome.

Featuring Lectures On...

Economic Crises, Then and Now
Brian Domitrovic, professor of history-Sam Houston State University and author of ISI Book, Econoclasts, an intellectual history of supply-side economics

The Economy After the Crisis
Gary Wolfram, William E. Simon Professor of economics and public policy-Hillsdale College

Why Economic Liberty?
Samuel Bostaph, professor of economics-University of Dallas

College Summer Mini-Conference

"The Christian Mind"

San Elijo College will be partnering with the Mars Hill Ministry at North Coast Calvary Chapel in Carlsbad, California to host a summer mini-conference on the Christian Mind.

Dates: Wednesdays: July 14, 21, and 28

Time: 7-9pm

Speakers: TBA

Keep your calendar open!

College Needs


We need volunteers for several key positions:

Marketing Director
Publish and coordinate all communications from the college.

Development Officer
Assist with the college's fundraising campaigns.

Admissions Recruiter
Develop and implement new student recruiting plans.

Give oversight to the college's budget and finances.

If you would like to volunteer for any of these positions in the college, please contact


San Elijo College is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax-deductible.

To make a donation to the college, checks can be made to "San Elijo College" and mailed to 1501 San Elijo Road, 104-114, San Marcos, C¬A 92078.

College Information

College Blog

Make sure to visit our blog at for reflections on higher education.

College Contact Information

Web Site



Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall 2009 Newsletter

Fons Novus
The Newsletter of San Elijo College

Fall 2009

College Events

Fall Colloquium

Date: Tuesday, October 27th
Time: 7:00-9:00pm
Location: San Elijo Hills Recreation Center, 1105 Elfin Forest Road, San Marcos, CA
Cost: Free, Open to the Public
More Info: Call 888-44-ELIJO or E-mail:

We will be hosting our Fall Colloquium on Aristotle and Business Ethics with Gary Hartenburg, Ph.D. (ABD), lecturer in philosophy at California State University, Fullerton. Mr. Hartenburg will show us how the wisdom of the ancient Greek philosopher helps us deal with the ethical issues of our day.

2nd Annual Donor Symposium Dinner

Date: Saturday, December 5th.
Time: 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Cost: $100/person -- $150/couple
Location: San Elijo Hills Recreation Center, 1105 Elfin Forest Road, San Marcos, CA
RSVP : Call 888-44-ELIJO or E-mail:

Mark your calendar now for our 2nd Annual Donor Symposium Dinner. This year's speaker is Dr. Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College. He is the author of over 55 books including: Christianity for Modern Pagans, C.S. Lewis for the 3rd Millennium, Socratic Logic and I Surf, Therefore I Am. You can find out more about Dr. Kreeft on his website,

College News

2009 Spring Colloquium

Our spring colloquium on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy was an enjoyable evening with members of our community led by Dr. Mosteller. We discussed the importance of focusing our lives on God who is eternal and can never be taken away. Boethius' text will be one that all students will read in their second year of the college curriculum.

2009 Summer Mini-Conference

Our three week summer seminar on classical education held in conjunction with the Mars Hill Discovery Center at North Coast Calvary Chapel was a great success. Our three speakers were Dr. Todd Bates on St. Augustine's Confessions, Mr. Fritz Hinrichs on Athansius and Classical Learning, and Dr. Tim Mosteller on C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man. Each of the lectures is available in the media section of the college's website.

College Location: New Opportunities

The building that housed the San Elijo Hills visitor's center has been purchased by a local business. We are exploring the possibility of leasing a small business office in the building. In addition, there is potential seminar room space available for lease in the new Marketwalk buildings in the Town Center.

College Recruiting

College Fairs

Oceanside High School College Fair, Tuesday, October 6th, 5-7 p.m.
Mission Hills High School College Fair, Thursday, October 8th, 6-8 p.m.

Individual School Visits

Carlsbad High School --- Tuesday, October 13th 10:30 a.m.
Maranatha Christian High School --- Friday, October 16th 8:00 a.m.
San Marcos High School --- Tuesday, October 20th 12:15 p.m.
Rancho Buena Vista High School --- Friday, October 23rd 9:00 a.m.
El Camino High School --- Tuesday, November 10th, 10:45 a.m.
Cathedral Catholic High School --- Thursday, November 12th 11:30 a.m.

If you know students at these schools, please let them know about our visit!

College Needs


We need volunteers for several key positions:

Marketing Director: Publish and coordinate all communications from the college.
Development Officer: Assist with the college's fundraising campaigns.
Admissions Recruiter: Develop and implement new student recruiting plans.
Accountant: Give oversight to the college's budget and finances.

If you would like to volunteer for any of these positions in the college, please contact


To make a donation to the college, checks can be made to "San Elijo College" and mailed to 1501 San Elijo Road, Suite 104-114, San Marcos, C¬A 92078.

College Information

College Blog

Make sure to visit our blog at for reflections on higher education and updates on SEC news and events.

College Contact Information

Web Site:
Phone: 888-44-ELIJO
Address: 1501 San Elijo Road, Suite 104-114, San Marcos, C¬A 92078

To unsubscribe to this newsletter, please e-mail:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Do Colleges Cost So Much?

There's a very interesting article from the New York Times with the title, "Why College Costs Rise, Even in a Recession." It is an interesting article, but the fact is that college shouldn't cost that much.

We at San Elijo College are working hard to keep college tuition affordable while maintaining a quality educational experience. We are giving a truly classical private school education at an affordable price at about $8,000 per year.

We believe that we are offing a truly exceptional curriculum that extends back into the real purpose of higher education . . . to liberate our souls. We believe that a liberal education should not enslave our students or parents with massive debt after college.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer's End

As the summer holiday comes to an end, we are very much looking forward to the fall season as we begin recruiting students for SEC. We will begin our recruiting efforts with local public, private and home school high school teachers, students and parents. We hope to have an initial class of 12-40 students for our first class to begin in 2010.

We are reminded again of the verse from John on our College Seal: "All things were made through Him." All that we are as people serving God, serving one another and serving our future students are in Him, through Him and for Him. We look forward to what is in store for these next few months of recruiting students.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Fons Novus

Fons Novus
The Newsletter of San Elijo College
Winter 2009

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Fons Novus, the newsletter of San Elijo College.

Fons Novus is Latin for "New Fountain" which embodies the newness of our college and the tradition of our classical approach to education in which a wellspring of knowledge from the past pours into the present. Fons Novus is also a reference to the signature landmark of San Elijo Hills. The San Elijo Hills fountain is the center of our community. It is a place of public renewal and beauty, which is the distinct aim of San Elijo College.

College News

Official 501c3 Status Approved!

San Elijo College is pleased to announce that we have received our official 501c3 non-profit status from the Internal Revenue Service. All donations made to the college since June 2008 are tax deductible. We are looking forward to making progress in our fundraising efforts for 2009.

Inaugural Donor Symposium

Our inaugural donor symposium with Dr. John Mark Reynolds and Mr. Dinesh D'Souza was a remarkable success. On November 15, 2008, over one hundred friends and patrons of the college were in attendance, including our college board of directors and board of advisers. We enjoyed a lovely evening of conversation and excellent cuisine accompanied by baroque and classical music provided by Caprice Strings. Classical audio books were donated as prizes to each table from our friends at

Our first speaker was Dr. John Mark Reynolds, founder of the Torrey Great Books Honors Program at Biola University. Dr. Reynolds spoke on the crucial need for classical great books education in our culture. Dr. Reynolds was followed by Mr. Dinesh D'Souza, author of Illiberal Education. Mr. D'Souza gave us some poignant insights into the centrality of liberal learning for free democracies.

College Dream Location: For Sale!

Our dream location for the college is up for sale! This building is currently serving as the visitor's center for San Elijo Hills. We would like to find an investor to purchase the building and lease it to the college. You can find additional details and view brochure pictures of the building on the college's blog site:

College Events

Spring Colloquium

Date: Tuesday, March 31st
Time: 7:00-9:00pm
Location: San Elijo Hills Recreation Center, 1105 Elfin Forest Road, San Marcos, CA
Cost: Free, Open to the Public
More Info: Call 888-44-ELIJO or E-mail:

We will be hosting our Spring Colloquium on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, written in 524 AD. The text is available online or as an audio book, or through

Boethius was a powerful, wealthy Roman political figure who lost everything, including ultimately his life, for doing what he knew to be right. While imprisoned, exiled and facing death, Boethius transcribed a conversation that he had with Lady Philosophy, who guides his soul to true wisdom and well being. Come join in the conversation and discussion of these timeless truths that can center us during our own times of economic changes of fortune.

Here is a brief excerpt from Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy:

And Philosophy answered, "Whose happiness is so firmly established that he has no quarrel from any side with his estate of life? For the condition of our welfare is a matter fraught with care: either its completeness never appears, or it never remains. One man's wealth is abundant, but his birth and breeding put him to shame. Another is famous for his noble birth, but would rather be unknown because he is hampered by his narrow means. A third is blessed with wealth and breeding, but bewails his life because he has no wife. Another is happy in his marriage, but has no children, and saves his wealth only for an heir that is no son of his. Another is blessed with children, but weeps tears of sorrow for the misdeeds of son or daughter. So none is readily at peace with the lot his fortune sends him. For in each case there is that which is unknown to him who has not experienced it, and which brings horror to him who has experienced it. Consider further, that the feelings of the most fortunate men are the most easily affected, wherefore, unless all their desires are supplied, such men, being unused to all adversity, are cast down by every little care: so small are the troubles which can rob them of complete happiness."

Join us on March 31st to discover Boethius' secret to happiness!

Executive Seminar

San Elijo College is pleased to announce our 2009 Executive Seminar. The Executive Seminar is a taste of our great books curriculum and is designed for working professionals and business leaders. Our theme is Philosophy and The Good Life. The seminars will be held once per month in May, June, July and August. We will be discussing one book at each seminar meeting. Our reading list is: Plato's Republic, Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, Descartes Meditations, and C.S. Lewis' Abolition of Man. The seminars will be facilitated by Dr. Tim Mosteller and other guest tutors. The tuition for the four seminars is $1,500, and all proceeds go directly to the College's startup needs. Enrollment is limited. For further information about the seminar or to reserve a place, please e-mail:

Summer Classical Education Mini-Conference

San Elijo College is pleased to co-sponsor a mini-conference on classical education in conjunction with North Coast Calvary Chapel's Mars Hill Ministry. Mark your calendars now for Wednesdays July 8th, 15th and 22nd. More information and a schedule of speakers and topics will be announced soon.

College Needs


We need volunteers for several key positions:

Marketing Director: Publish and coordinate all communications from the college.
Development Officer: Assist with the college's fundraising campaigns.
Admissions Recruiter: Develop and implement new student recruiting plans.
Accountant: Give oversight to the college's budget and finances.

If you would like to volunteer for any of these positions in the college, please contact


To make a donation to the college, checks can be made to "San Elijo College" and mailed to 1261 San Elijo Road, San Marcos, C­A 92078. Check our website for online giving (available soon).

College Information

College Blog

Make sure to visit our blog at for reflections on higher education and updates on SEC's progress and events.

College Contact Information

Web Site:
Phone: 888-44-ELIJO
Address: 1261 San Elijo Road, San Marcos, CA 92078

To unsubscribe to this e-mail list, please e-mail:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

FOR SALE! Dream Location for San Elijo College

Our dream location for San Elijo College is now for sale!

We are looking for an investor to purchase the building and lease it to the college or a donor to donate the funds to purchase the building.

Here are a few photos (click on the photos for clearer view):

Saturday, February 7, 2009

501c3 Status is Official

San Elijo College has received official confirmation from the IRS that our 501c3 status has been formally granted. All donations given since June 2008 are tax deductible. This is great news as we continue our fundraising for 2009.

Our next step is to apply for approval to operate from the State of California. Since the veto of SB 823 last fall, there has effectively been no governing agency for the college to apply for approval to operate. The current bill AB 40 looks like it will fund a new agency, but it isn't clear if the new agency will approve new colleges or not. The Department of Consumer Affairs currently has a message posted on their website, which can be found here

We are working with our California State Senator, Mark Wyland's staff for guidance navigating the process for our approval by the state. We are grateful for our elected leaders and state officials who work hard to keep things moving smoothly for us.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Starting a College in a Recession!

Happy New Year!

We are looking forward to a new season of moving SEC toward its telos!

When we began our fundraising efforts last summer, the economy seemed pretty good to us ... we've heard rumors that it has gotten worse this fall and winter.

Someone once said, "the next time there's a recession, I am not going to participate!"

We decided to take that advice and sit this recession out and just keep raising money.

As we do so we will remember Socrates' advice from the Apology:

O my friend, why do you who are a citizen of the great and mighty and wise city of Athens, care so much about laying up the greatest amount of money and honor and reputation, and so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul, which you never regard or heed at all? Are you not ashamed of this? And if the person with whom I am arguing says: Yes, but I do care; I do not depart or let him go at once; I interrogate and examine and cross-examine him, and if I think that he has no virtue, but only says that he has, I reproach him with undervaluing the greater, and overvaluing the less. And this I should say to everyone whom I meet, young and old, citizen and alien, but especially to the citizens, inasmuch as they are my brethren. For this is the command of God, as I would have you know; and I believe that to this day no greater good has ever happened in the state than my service to the God. For I do nothing but go about persuading you all, old and young alike, not to take thought for your persons and your properties, but first and chiefly to care about the greatest improvement of the soul. I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue come money and every other good of man, public as well as private. This is my teaching, and if this is the doctrine which corrupts the youth, my influence is ruinous indeed. But if anyone says that this is not my teaching, he is speaking an untruth. Wherefore, O men of Athens, I say to you, do as Anytus bids or not as Anytus bids, and either acquit me or not; but whatever you do, know that I shall never alter my ways, not even if I have to die many times.

So this will be a major component of our fundraising strategy, to be like Socrates, arguing that the most important thing is not money but the soul!

Jesus said some things like this too: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be" (Matthew 6:19-21).

Is it really a good idea to use these notions from Jesus and Socrates to raise money?!

Socrates was executed by drinking hemlock and Jesus by crucifixion ....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Loss of Logic

-- Dallas Willard

Steve Zelnick argues in an article entitled ""Critical Thinking" Minus Criticism and Thought", that what is often called "critical thinking" is usually nothing more than politically correct indoctrination.

At San Elijo College, we intend that each student take a full course in Logic, starting with Aristotle's "Organon."

We believe that if our students can master Aristotelian logic from the original sources, then they should be able to think critically about most everything else.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Inaugural Donor Symposium: A Success!

Thank you to all who made our Inaugural Donor Symposium a sucess!

We had over 100 people in attendance and have raised over $20,000 for the college so far!

Our next steps are:

1) To apply for approval to operate as a degree granting institution from the State of California. This will be pending the re-establishment of the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (see for details. We hope that the California Legislature and Governor can come to a quick resolution for this regulatory agency.

2) Begin marketing plans and implementing student recruitment, once our approval to operate is granted.

3) Continue our fundraising efforts with the goal of $250,000-$500,000 start up campaign.

Feel free to drop us an e-mail if you have any questions about our progress.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Inaugural Donor Symposium

Our Inaugural Donor Symposium Dinner is scheduled for Saturday, November 15th, 6pm at the Hilton Garden Inn, Carlsbad with best selling author Dinesh D'Souza and John Mark Reynolds, Ph.D.

For additional information or to RSVP for the dinner, please e-mail:

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Matthew Arnold on Culture

"The whole scope of the essay[Culture and Anarchy] is to recommend culture as the great helpout of our present difficulties; culture being a pursuit of our totalperfection by means of getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world,and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically."

At San Elijo College it is our aim to get at "the best which has been thought and said in the world." We understand our college to be part of the transmission of the best in western culture. We agree that studying great works allows us to turn a "stream of fresh and free thought" upon what western culture has become. We do this with the intention to live out what is good, true and beautiful.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Tower of Liberal Learning

We were impressed today with a quotation from a lecture given by John Senior entitled, "The Several Storied Tower." It is a short reflection on how the classical liberal arts build on one another, from grammar to theology.

We were particularly struck by this quotation:

"That is the difference between a technical school and a university—the university rises to the universal; it integrates the horizontal in the vertical; it is a place where "young men see visions and old men dream dreams." And if your education has not been much like that, that is because no institution ever lives up to its purpose—but at least some of us have tried."

We at San Elijo College are trying.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Tradition, tradition! Tradition! --- Tuition, tuition! Tuition!

We at San Elijo College intend our college to be tuition free. We would like to have this done by the time we begin offering classes in the fall of 2010.

There are four reasons for this.

First, we want to free the College from the commoditization of education. If education is something valuable for its own sake, then it is not the kind of thing that can be bought and sold, let alone publicly traded. Students who are treated as customers soon begin to treat success in their education as both a positive right and something deserved because they have paid their tuition. A tuition based education becomes something like what happens at a drive through hamburger stand: one orders (declares one's major) at the menu stand, pays (tuition) for their food at the first window, and picks up their burger (diploma) at the second window. Somewhere between the first and second window education occurs, but is something the student knows not what.

Second, tuition driven institutions are driven to get more bodies in the door to pay for the mostly bureaucratic functions of the institution. Thus, as a college grows it needs more money for growth, and ends up sacrificing student quality and instructional quality, usually in terms of large class sizes. A college that depends on tuition for its survival is a college that will often sacrifice its core principles in order to keep its doors open. This is especially applicable to the stability of faculty appointments and to the long term relationships between faculty and the college. At San Elijo College, we intend each faculty position to be fully endowed such that each faculty member's salary will be fully funded regardless of whether enrollment dips in any given year.

Third, federal and state governments now contribute a great deal to the possibility of higher education for many students across the country. Federally subsidized student loans make possible funds that enable students to pay for the increasingly exorbitant costs of tuition at private universities and colleges. Federal and state funding bring with it restrictions or attached strings on which a truly free, independent and liberal institution should not depend. This is especially true for a college which has specific religious and philosophical commitments which may run counter to the whims of ever changing government and bureaucratic administrations and regulations.

Fourth, a classical liberal arts education in the great books tradition at San Elijo College should be open to the poor who merit admission to the College. This applies most to the best and brightest students who come from limited financial means. It provides a way for them to attain the best that can be offered educationally without having to send their parents or themselves tens of thousands of dollars into debt.

San Elijo College will thus seek a full endowment for each faculty position from private benefactors who believe in the mission and purpose of the institution. This will be an easy task to accomplish. Our culture is one of the wealthiest in human history. It is also one in the throes of great educational crises. There are many in our culture who have the means and the desire to participate in this renaissance of our national intellectual life, and through San Elijo College now have the opportunity.

Does this mean that the college will not cost the student anything? No. We recognize that one’s investment in one’s education, both in terms of time and money, breed a commitment to it on the part of a student. While tuition might be free, each student at the college will be responsible for providing their own support to cover room, board, and all other expenses. The College is planning to work with local businesses to provide a work/study program to offset these costs as well.

A liberal arts education sets the soul free. Doing so should not bring with it financial enslavement upon graduation. A tuition free college with fully endowed faculty positions will provide a truly liberating education.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Languages: Classical and American

San Elijo College is a classical liberal arts college in the great books tradition. As such we study the ideas that come to us from the past which make our own free American constitutional republic possible.

These ideas are transmitted to us through language.

Because we believe in the objectivity of knowledge, (i.e. that we can know what is good, true and beautiful), we believe that language does not stand as a blur between us and the ideas that we come to know through reading great works of literature, listening to music or seeing great works of art.

San Elijo College will emphasize three languages.

First and foremost all students will master the English language. English is the language of the United States of America. It is the "mother tongue." It gave birth to the ideas in the English political tradition which in turn nurtured the concepts of the founding documents of our American national experience, without which San Elijo College would not be possible. This is especially so for the primary document of our nation's founding: the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration we have a language (English) and ideas, especially the ideas of self evident truths (part of the objectivity of knowledge). The ideas and the language go together. Our students master both.

In addition, we will focus on the classical language of Latin.

We will focus on Latin for two reasons: 1) many of the ideas of antiquity come to us through the Latin language, both ideas transmitted through ancient Rome and through the Medieval Church, 2) Latin has influenced the English and Spanish languages in many ways. Latin will be the classical language of the college.

We will also focus on the modern language of Spanish.

We will focus on Spanish for three reasons. First, Spanish was the first European language of San Diego. Spanish links our college to its European Spanish roots. Thus, it deserves special place in our curriculum as contributing to the European cultural and intellectual traditions developed in this corner of the United States. Second, Spanish is the main second language of California, a major international language spoken on three continents, and our students will benefit in practical ways from knowing it.

Language and ideas go together in important way. At San Elijo College, we will master the good, true and beautiful in each.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

To Major or Not to Major?

We at San Elijo College have been deeply influenced by Newman's Idea of a University which lays out an integrated general education program coupled with specific areas of emphasis or majors.

We are convinced that higher education should be classically oriented with a focus on the great works of the western tradition. We also recognize that the specific disciplines within the academy bring an important strength to undergraduate study.

At San Elijo College, we intend to have a single degree program in Liberal Arts with a unified curriculum, while allowing for the specific strengths of our faculties' expertise to compliment the unity of our degree program.

Can we call this a "major" in Liberal Arts? Maybe. However, we intend to offer more than a mere major. We offer the art of being free for well being and well doing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Kansas University Integrated Humanities Program

Sometimes there are bright lights which blaze for a season and then fade, fulfilling their task in their demise. One such bright light was the Kansas University's Pearson Integrated Humanities Program. One of the things which struck us in the description of this program was the way in which students "did" poetry: "groups of students met to memorize poetry, truly by memory, since no text was used, but conducted by another student who had himself the poems of the program in his memory." This reminds us of the end of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 where people become their own books. We think SEC should try this with poetry for faculty and students.

Also, John Senior, one of the founders of the program has provided us with a call to clarity in our moral commitments as a college from his book The Restoration of Christian Culture.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Van Doren on Eductional Vision

Mark Van Doren once wrote:

"The courage in the educator that makes him labor at the outline of his task will push him on, virtue being with him, to take the risk of action; he will not only see an outline, he will form his institution in harmony with the vision. This may involve mistakes, but he would rather make mistakes than linger in confusion . . . When educators do not labor at the outline, others who are their subordinates, whether students or teachers will. The one intolerable thing in education is the absence of intellectual design . . . Education with an intellectual design is liberal education" (Liberal Education, pp. 10-11) by Mark Van Doren 1959, Boston: Beacon Press.

We at SEC desire to have this virtue of courage giving an outline of our college in its early stages. We intend to flesh out what it means to be a college committed to the objectivity of knowledge, believing that we can really know what is good, true and beautiful, and that this knowledge is part and parcel of the Christian tradition as a knowledge tradition contributing to what we value and cherish in what is good in the West.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Higher Ed and Hard Work

We at San Elijo College are looking for market driven solutions to the high cost of higher education. One of the ways in which this seems to have been successful is through a robust work/study program. There are a couple of schools in the country with this model:

At SEC, however, we are not primarily focused on a specific region or constituency as is Berea, nor do we have the sizeable endowment which allows College of the Ozarks to pay their students directly, and while there are dairy cows, horses and chickens in Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest, just down the road, San Elijo Hills is not a working cattle ranch like Deep Springs.

Ideally, we want to fully endow each faculty position and have the college essentially tuition free. However, we recognize, from our own experience in college, that practical work experience is invaluable. While we admire the cloistered life of many colleges, we also recognize, as did Plato the value of "trudging down" to rule in the world. We believe that partnering with local business to employ SEC students will allow each student to have high ideals and an ethic that comes from hard work.

A friend of the College introduced us to the Cristo Rey model for work/study which allows students to pay for a great deal of their tuition through an innovative job-sharing and employee leasing program. We think that this might be a feasible program for the college to offset tuition or living expenses.

Thomas Sowell on Measuring Outputs

Thomas Sowell has an interesting article on measuring ouputs of student achievement in order to "rank" colleges instead of "prestige" based on inputs.

He writes, "The CCAP [Center for College Affordability and Productivity] study uses several measures of educational output, including the proportion of a college’s graduates who win awards like the Rhodes Scholarships or who end up listed in Who’s Who in America, as well as the ratings that students give the professors who teach them. Professor Vedder admits that these are “imperfect” measures of a college’s educational output, but at least they are measures of output instead of input."

Sowell goes on to add that an addition "output" might include the number of students who go on for Ph.D.s

One worry about both the USNWR and CCAP's approach is an empiricist leaning toward numerical and measurable quantification rather than in the role that universities play in shaping the soul's of their students.

Would it be possible to rank schools on the quality of the souls of the faculty, trustees and alumni? One output that is measurable would be something like, how many alumni give their lives for what they believe to be good, true and beautiful?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Plato's Republic and Types of Colleges

In Plato's Republic Book 8 and following, Plato describes the five types of cities and souls:

The Aristocracy: the rule of goodness
The Timocracy: the rule of honor
The Oligarchy: the rule of wealth
The Democracy: the rule of the masses
The Tyrrany: the rule of the tyrant

We think that American Universities and Colleges can fit into these type as well.

The Aristocratic university is literally one that is ruled by Goodness itself, as Plato puts it, when we see the Good, it "is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally either in public or private life must have his eye fixed."

We at San Elijo College believe that our students can see the Good! And that seeing the Good enables true success in every endeavor in life, private and public. Our graduates can even put that on their resumes! e.g. Skills: Able to see the Good and act rationally.

Are there any Aristocratic universities left? We believe that there are a few, and San Elijo College stands with them on this.

The second type of school is a Timocratic one. This school values honor. Honor is a real value, but it is not the sole value, and as Lewis puts it in the Abolition of Man, when you isolate one value from all the others within the natural law, you can swell it to madness in its isolation. Publications, research grants, presentations at academic conferences, tenure, great football or basketball teams, fancy buildings, a good reputation, high rankings in US News and World report; all of these things are honorable. But the cannot be the sole values for a college. Without objectivity of value, these things are hollow.

The third type of college is a Oligarchic one. This school values money. It encourages its students, as Plato puts it to make "reason and spirit sit down on the ground obediently on either side of their sovereign, and [teaches] them to know their place, he compels the one to think only of how lesser sums may be turned into larger ones, and will not allow the other to worship and admire anything but riches and rich men, or to be ambitious of anything so much as the acquisition of wealth and the means of acquiring it." These colleges emphasize only the acquisition of wealth and focus their energies solely on their student's ability to do so.

The fourth type of college is the Democratic one. This school values, well everything equally. Relativists U! Plato says, "if anyone says to him that some pleasures are the satisfactions of good and noble desires, and others of evil desires, and that he ought to use and honor some, and chastise and master the others -- whenever this is repeated to him he shakes his head and says that they are all alike, and that one is as good as another ... life has neither law nor order; and this distracted existence he terms joy and bliss and freedom." This is reflected in the curricular irrationality of the majority of American universities and in most dormitories on a typical weekend. Colleges have always been places for the young to be young, but only the recent moral relativism in higher education allows for the approbation of all conduct and thought as equally praiseworthy.

The final type of college is the Tyrannical one. The Tyranny is of course, for Plato with respect to the city the rule of one from the masses at the expense of all others, e.g. Kim Jung Il. We are not sure if there are any tyrannical colleges today; individual departments at schools, maybe, but we have not slid this far down in higher ed today. We seem to have mostly oligarchic and democratic schools today. Plato, however, seems to think that the slide from democracy to tyranny is an easy, wide and natural downhill road.

San Elijo College seeks to stem this drift by focusing the minds of our faculty and students on the Good, the True and the Beautiful.

Thought on Larry Arnn's Article

Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College, in his Imprimis article (November, 2006) recommends two soloutions to the current problems entrenched in higher education today:

To repair all this and place the education system on a better footing,
there are two things that need doing, neither of them proposed so far during
this reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. The first is that we should
return control of college to private people to the utmost extent possible. The
federal government should do what Reagan suggested: go back to the things it has
the constitutional power to do ...

Or even go one better: Let taxpayers keep
their money, if they are prepared to spend it for something so vital to the
public interest as education.

The second thing is to recover the tradition
of liberal and civic education that has helped to keep us free by teaching us
the purpose of our freedom. To do this, we will have to be willing to take
positions on subjects that are “controversial.” We will have to organize our
colleges to study the great documents of the American past and those upon which
that past was built. This will involve us—gasp—in the study of the Western
canon. This is not merely a good thing; it is “urgent.”

We at SEC agree with Arnn about these two things. We agree that private colleges should take no federal or state aid at all. We fear for like minded private colleges, especially those with religious, especially Christian commitments. Private religious colleges which are on the government dole, and which are tuition driven will likely, maybe even in the next presidential administration, be faced with a dilemma: compromise their missions or lose federal aid.

San Elijo College hopes to avoid this dilemma from the beginning by commiting to avoid entanglement with government bureaucratic encroachment on academic liberty.

We at SEC also agree with Arnn that the way to have a great college, which preserves the best of Western culture and the American experience the west has produced is to master the history, languages, science, philosophy, and religion which produced it. We hope too that this study will allow us to effectively critique problems within the western tradition, while maintaining a clear objectivity to knowledge. This is what CS Lewis calls "alteration from within" the tradition.
In the Abolition of Man ch. 2, Lewis writes "Those who understand the spirit of[natural law, the western tradition] and who have been led by that spirit can modify it in directions which that spirit itself demands. Only they can know what those directions are. The outsider knows nothing about the matter. His attempts at alteration, as we have seen, contradict themselves."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

People who've taught us: Victor Davis Hanson

We all have teachers.

The founders of SEC have had several currently living teachers who have inspired us in many ways.

One of our teachers is Victor Davis Hanson.

His commencement address from St. John's College in 2002 was particularly inspiring as we researched the academic and curricular foundations of the College.

San Elijo College inspires to be, as Hanson states, "Like Euripides, you are hunters of beauty, which Socrates reminds us is really the The Good and The True—what the Greeks call aletheia “that which cannot be forgotten.”

Willard Lecture on Moral Knowledge and the University

Willard has an excellent talk on the nature of moral knowledge in the university. It's well stated, although a bit grainy in the audio. The lecture can be found here as part of the Veritas forum: “The university no longer offers a body of moral truth, the closest you get to it is freshman orientation."

San Elijo College believes that there is a body of moral knowledge found in both natural law, as defended in C.S. Lewis' "The Abolition of Man" and by the majority of the great writers of the West. In addition, the College believes that the Christian tradition, as stated in the Nicene Creed, is a knowledge tradition, and in that knowledge tradition, there is a clear body of moral knowledge that regulates human life.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dallas Willard's Papers on Higher Education

Those of us founding SEC have been deeply influenced by Dallas Willard, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California (

This entry will highight a few quotations from Dallas' papers on higher education and then show how SEC will fulfill those ideas.

Willard has a nice paper on Jaques Maritain's views of higher ed: "How Reason Can Survive The Modern University: The Moral Foundations Of Rationality."

Willard states: "The life of reason is not generally speaking, self-sustaining. The values inherent in it are not by themselves enough to secure its institution and perpetuation. This brings out the pointlessness of teaching logic as part of a liberal education without illuminating and emphasizing our duty to be logical. Only a strong moral commitment to being a reasonable person can effectively produce routine conformity, or will to conform, to truth and logic in action and assertion. We see such commitment in outstanding examples such as Socrates, Jesus and Spinoza, and certainly Maritain."

We at San Elijo College agree. We intend our college to have a strong communal commitment to the life of reason and the life of a just soul.

Here is another quotation by Willard from his paper, "The University's Responsibility for Moral Guidance"

"We cannot simply return to the Christian past of the universities; the honest, critical inquiry which the university at its best has always aspired to must prevail. The university must forsake its reactionary position against the worldview from which it arose and devote its attention to an open and free-minded scrutiny of the claims of Jesus Christ, placing them alongside the alternatives that now try to tell us who we are and what we ought to be."

San Elijo College begins with the Christian past and strives for the ideals Willard discusses.

Here's another quotation from and interview of Dallas Willard entitled: "Happy Graduation from Amoral University."

tts: Has the university abandoned "capital T truth"?

DW: Yes! The university has explicitly abandoned the project of the search for Truth--despite remnants that suggest the contrary such as Harvard's seal that sports the Latin word for truth ("Veritas"). In fact in an address to entering freshman at the University of Chicago, John Mearsheimer made it clear what were and what were not the goals of the educational institution. The goals were: to encourage critical thinking, to broaden intellectual horizons, and to encourage self-awareness. The NON-AIMS were equally explicit: "Not only is there a powerful imperative at Chicago to stay away from teaching the truth, but the university also makes very little effort to provide you with moral guidance. Indeed it is a remarkably amoral institution" (149, Mearsheimer).

tts: Does this sentiment permeate secular universities in general?

DW: Yes!

SEC is founded on the objectivity of knowledge and truth. It is our core philosophical commitment.

Alan Kors' Article on Higher Education

Alan Kors has very telling article on the state of higher education today. We believe that San Elijo College will as Kors states be a "model of higher education that offer[s] a prestigious degree, high admissions standards, a superb and rigorous education, a faculty that was truly and usefully intellectually pluralistic, and a climate of individual rights and responsibilities (joined with rights of voluntary association)."

We also believe with Kors that such a model will as he puts it "sweep the field."

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Welcome to the blog for San Elijo College:

We will be posting thoughts and reflections on the college, on higher education, great books, classics, philosophy and other related topics. Mostly, the point of this blog is to keep college supporters updated on our progress.

San Elijo College is in its embryonic stage. During a recent lunch with a supporter of the college, We were reminded of this truth. Alan said something that really stuck in our head. He said, "Your website says things like the college "will be" a great books college, or the college "will be" a classically oriented college .... but the college already is a great books college and it already is a classically oriented college." He reminded us that San Elijo College although in its embryonic stage is just what a college looks like at its beginning. We are already a college, at its earliest stages of development.