In 1966, a fledgling school ten years old, a university in name only, became a university
Thanks to a gift, in 1966, of $7,500,000 by the Blakley-Braniff Foundation, the Braniff
Graduate School was formed. The first programs offered were master's degrees in Art,
English, and Business Administration, and a Ph.D. in Politics and Literature. Each
of these had a distinctive character setting it apart from other programs, both locally
The program in Business Administration – now the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business – established its defining and ground-breaking principle of innovative, practice-based
education, having actual businessmen teaching potential businessmen. Responding to
the needs of the expanding and changing Dallas-Fort Worth area, it grew rapidly and
developed its own administrative and teaching structure. Nearly 13,000 degrees have
been awarded through College of Business programs.
An influential force for education
Other early graduate programs initiated what is now the complex of offerings known
as the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts. The Art Department soon added the
sixty-credit M.F.A., the terminal degree for studio artists, to its initial M.A. program. It is one of
only two M.F.A. studio art programs offered by Catholic institutions in the United
States. It has become an influential force because of the fundamental soundness and
sophistication of its program, arising from the convictions that an artist is also
a craftsman who must acquire technical control of his or her medium, and that an artist's
inspiration comes from an informed and particular response to his or her place in
time supported by a knowledge of the history and theory of art. Studio art graduates
chair and staff art faculties in colleges and universities throughout the country.
To the original M.A. in English have gradually been added many other Master's degrees, including programs in American studies, humanities, philosophy, politics, psychology
and theology, as well as the degrees offered by the Neuhoff School of Ministry that
prepare lay people for work in various Church ministries. All reflect the overarching
mission of the University: to revive the Western heritage of liberal education and
to recover the Christian intellectual tradition. This approach, like that of the undergraduate
curriculum, concerns the study not only of major authors and texts, but also of the
continuity of the intellectual traditions out of which they come. In addition, graduate
work in the liberal arts has a social dimension – the formation of teachers. Half
of the graduate students in the Humanities program, for instance, are teachers. Present
and future teachers – in public and private institutions, at all levels of instruction
– are the primary focus for departments offering master's programs. To date, the Braniff
Graduate School of Liberal Arts has awarded 1,500 degrees to men and women who exemplify
our approach in the excellence of their educational vision. They constitute a vital
resource in the University's effort to renew education across the nation.
A unique approach to doctoral study
Nationally, the University's most influential graduate program in the liberal arts
is the one that began in 1966 as the Willmoore Kendall program in Politics and Literature.
Now called the Institute of Philosophic Studies, it awards doctoral degrees in Philosophy, as well as in Politics and in Literature.
From the beginning this program has been deservedly called unique. No other university
offers an interdisciplinary Ph.D. with a core curriculum in which students from the
different fields within the humanities participate as a group. Each semester for three
years all the students in the program share one of six core courses, each devoted
to pivotal texts within Western civilization. Students belong to a true, cross-disciplinary
intellectual community, using insights gained from the study of each other's disciplines
to deepen their knowledge of their own.
Doctoral students prepare themselves to teach in colleges and universities that have
an institutional mission similar to ours – with undergraduate core or honors curricula,
or interdisciplinary undergraduate studies. Our success in forming teachers of intellectual
breadth, commitment and integrity has gradually increased the reputation of the program.
Consequently, doctoral graduates consistently find employment at institutions throughout
the country. The University awarded its 180th Ph.D. at Commencement in May 2009. Of
the 38 Ph.D. students awarded degrees since 1998, one is a trustee of our university,
one is employed in a think tank in Arizona, one has joined a monastic order in Italy,
one is teaching at a secondary school in New England, four are either in law school
or practicing law, and twenty-eight presently hold teaching positions at colleges
A source of renewal in the Western tradition of liberal arts
The offerings of the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts are a continual source
of renewal, not only in sending teachers into local and national arenas, but in reaffirming
among the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees a shared commitment to educational
excellence, integrity, and leadership.