Saturday, February 28, 2009

Visiting University of Dallas

Meggar attended "Odyssey Days" expecting to like the Univ. of Dallas and came away loving it. She has done Kolbe Academy and claims Literature is her favorite course, so I think she would be suited to their academics. The two-year Core Curriculum at U.D. appeals to her as she enjoys a good discussion/debate whether theology, politics, literature, or history are in question. We arrived Thursday night to 80’ F temps and stayed at a nearby hotel, with free shuttle service to campus.
On Friday morning we sat in on three classes: Constitutional History of Medieval England (which corresponds to her Kolbe history), Philosophy of Man (with a young and enthusiastic professor), and Literary Traditions II (where they were discussing Dante’s Divine Comedy, similar to her Kolbe literature). Several students freely asked questions in each class and the lecturers also seemed happily involved in the material. Group presentations by the Admission Reps prove that U.D. is friendly to homeschoolers.
The Odyssey Days scholarship contest and essay essentially waive your application fee and application essay. So that was good news. Everyone who took the exam is guaranteed a scholarship. Of course, we enjoyed a slide show of their Rome campus and learned about the great amenities built into the sophomore year’s semester abroad. All credits count and tuition remains the same. New dorms, outdoor pizza oven, pool, and right down the hill from Castel Gondolfo--Very impressive!
We mixed with several of the faculty, which is the best way to glean tidbits of information. I was interested to meet the volleyball coach, who said academics come before athletics. The education professors explained that they place their student teachers at public schools instead of Catholic schools. (Hmm...?) The art department had three seniors giving presentations on their thesis/graduation projects, which were beautiful and well-documented. One student did her internship at the Ft. Worth Art Museum. There was a Sculpture professor, transferred from Notre Dame, who discussed his teaching environment compared to other programs. Also, a senior in political science told us about his internship with the Senate Finance Committee last summer. It showed him how fortunate U.D. was to have conservative professors because he did not have the same environment for discussions that summer in Washington, D.C. We also sat in on choir rehearsal (a capella) and viewed the piano practice rooms. Lastly, we had a tour by our dorm host, who was a transfer student from Belmont Abbey. She made some good contrasts between the two campuses. She obviously was pleased with her decision and excited about the clubs and extra-curricular activities at U.D. The dorms were clean, even the rooms we saw which were not on the official tour (thanks, Emily Respeliers). They just had a "Pride and Prejudice" movie night for Valentine’s Day at the girl’s dorm (that’s a plus for us Jane Austen fans). The Catholic atmosphere seems very authentic. There was a sign up sheet for Adoration at the girl’s dorm. When we popped into the Chapel (not on the official tour), there were 6 people there praying -- on Friday evening at 6:30 pm!?!! That says a great deal about these college-age students. I met several homeschooling moms at the wine and cheese reception. We had a chance to talk to the college president, who has started building new dorms (completion date is Jan. 2011) so all students can remain on campus (re: safer environment). We enjoyed plenty of good food at the Haggar Union (including dinner with Kathy from Plano Texas) and a cappuccino at the Cap Bar. I thought the campus was lovely with its landscaping and several outdoor terraces. I did not see any tattoos or piercings. Only saw one student smoking. Although there’s no dress code, I did not see sweats but rather collared shirts on men and skirts on women. These all figured into the good impression we received over the 2-days on campus for Odyssey Days.

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