The primary and essential purpose of the Augustinian Order’s collaboration with its institutions of higher learning is the effective and continuing mediation of the Augustinian heritage. For this to be achieved, the Order’s influence must be felt at the level of trusteeship, administration, and direct student service, especially in academic, student life, and ministerial levels.
The Order concretizes its corporate relationship to its institutions by providing personnel who can promote the Augustinian legacy and are free to function in collaboration with their lay counterparts as responsible trustees, administrators, faculty, campus ministers, and staff personnel, who pursue the best interests of the individual schools in conformity with Augustine’s vision.
In order to help insure the preservation and steady development of the Augustinian character of the schools, adequate Order representation on the boards of trustees must be maintained. At the same time, the Order has an obligation to insure that actual and prospective trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff personnel should understand, appreciate, and support the Augustinian tradition, mission, history, and founding vision of these institutions and accept the moral obligation to continue the work of the founders. The presence of qualified Augustinians in the upper levels of administration is also vital, most especially in those areas that oversee academic programs, and, as is most desirable, in the crucial position of the presidency. In addition to administrative positions, it is essential that properly qualified Augustinians should be placed in various academic disciplines, especially, but not restricted to, theology. Recognizing that campus ministers, residence hall counselors, and staff have direct contact with students and exercise a power to influence them, the Order seeks to focus its ministerial attention in these areas as well.
In view of the Augustinian Order’s share in the rich cultural and theological legacy of Saint Augustine, its long history of involvement in education which spans over seven centuries, and the continuing contributions it makes to the Catholic character of the institutions it sponsors, the Order realizes that when it continues to identify itself with its institutions of higher education to the public, it thereby gives to those institutions the benefit of its still considerable name and reputation.
Despite its current limited resources and personnel, the Order will continue to encourage its members to engage in the apostolate of higher education. In doing so, it will be acting in the spirit and tradition of its early founders, whose own commitments to that apostolate called them to act on the courage of their own uncertainty. While it is true that any formal withdrawal of the Order’s corporate relationship to a college or university need not entail denial of that institution’s right to claim Augustinian founding and heritage, the continued influential corporate presence of the religious community whose members are visibly dedicated to the Augustinian vision is the surest guarantee for the preservation of those ideals. To insure its capability in the future effectively to impact higher education with its heritage, the Order must insist upon—both from itself and from the schools it sponsors—the minimal conditions specified above for the continuation of the formal partnership.
"So great is the influence of a sympathetic mind that our students are affected by us as we teach and we by them as we learn. Thus we come to dwell in each other; they speak within us what they hear, while we learn in them what we teach."
St. Augustine, The Instruction of Beginners XII, 17