The mission of a Catholic college or university is allied to the basic mission of higher education, but with its own specific characteristics and purposes. Catholic higher education is a privileged place where the Gospel and contemporary culture can engage in fruitful dialogue.
In his essay, The Catholic Identity of Rockhurst University, Fr. Edward Kinerk, S.J., the 13th president of Rockhurst University, states:
"Rockhurst’s mission to engage in the search for truth is common to all universities. However, Rockhurst is more than just a university; it is a Catholic university, and its identity as a Catholic university expands its freedom of intellectual inquiry, gives it a basis for understanding reality, and extends its mission beyond the hallowed university ivory tower."
As an academic institution and member of the international community of scholarship and inquiry, Rockhurst University participates in and contributes to the life and mission of the universal Church. It prepares men and women to live their Christian vocation in a mature and responsible manner. By offering the results of its research and scholarship, it helps the Church to understand and respond better to the problems and challenges of contemporary culture. All of its basic academic activities (research, education, profes-sional training, and the dialogue with culture) contribute in a vital way to the Church's work of evangelization, which is to establish the relationship between faith and life in each individual and in the socio-cultural context in which individuals live and relate to one another.
In its service to the Church, Rockhurst University strives to become an effective instrument of cultural progress for individuals and society. Its research should seek to discover the roots and causes of the problems faced by contemporary society, giving particular attention to their ethical and religious dimensions.
In the face of increasingly rigid compartmentalization of knowledge, Catholic higher education must foster cooperation among different academic disciplines, encouraging each to offer its distinct contribution in the search for solutions to these problems.
Catholic colleges and universities must examine and evaluate the predominant values and norms of modern society and culture in a Christian perspective and find effective methods to communicate the ethical and religious principles that give meaning to human life. The promotion of social justice must also be a priority. In its service to society, it must develop collaborative relationships with the academic, cultural, and scientific world of the region in which it is located.