Monday, April 11, 2011

Boston College's Latin Diplomas

In a little over a month, approximately 3,000 soon-to-be graduates will sit on the grassy turf of Alumni Stadium eagerly awaiting their hard earned diplomas, the symbol of years of effort and accomplishment.  But unlike some of their peers at sister Jesuit institutions, BC students may be in for a shocking surprise: their diplomas are unreadable, because they are in Latin. Despite having learned a smattering of honored and solemn phrases such as Kyrie eleison, peccata mundi, and dona nobis pacem during their time at Boston College, few students know enough Latin to actually read their BC diploma. And for those in the general population who might have occasion to rest their gaze on one of these treasured trophies of achievement, the chances of comprehension are lower still. This is a peculiar result. The Boston College diploma is the symbolic embodiment of success and accomplishment achieved through years of effort at a leading institution of higher learning. As such, most graduates will presumably wish to display theirs prominently for perusal by themselves, family, friends, clients, and others. What else, after all, is a diploma for? Nevertheless, Boston College's Latin diplomas continue to come up short on comprehensibility, to the point of robbing graduates of the respected and even renowned Boston College brand name used in association with the university in virtually every other context. Eschewing the principal working language of the institution and its host society in favor of the more traditional Latin, BC's diplomas do not even contain the phrase "Boston College"—or even the word "Boston"—anywhere on them. History and tradition might well be called upon to justify such an obfuscation of meaning.  Boston College is, after all, a Roman Catholic Jesuit university that is rightly proud of its tradition, which traces back at least as far as the Ratio Studiorum of 1599 (the full title of which translates as "The Official Plan for Jesuit Education").  The Ratio Studiorum emphasized the teaching of Greek and Latin classics, which Georgetown's John W. O'Malley, S.J., describes as having held a "privileged and unassailable place" in Jesuit education. 
Link (here) to read the full article at The Heights

4 comments:

Rachel Claire said...

Interesting. My Saint Louis University Bachelor's diploma (2007) is in Latin, but my Master's diploma is not.

Andrew said...

Kyrie eleison is Greek, not Latin

Anonymous said...

Is your paycheck in Latin as well?

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