Three years before setting up the Catholic University in Dublin, Newman spoke about two guiding principles for how it should be run.
Firstly, ‘a perfect unity of purpose and operation’ in the teaching and governing body was paramount, so as to secure the harmonious action of the professors and lecturers, ‘their growth into one body, and their production of a real education for those under their care’. To this end, they needed to be guided by a working rather than by a theoretical constitution.
Secondly, they needed to meet ‘the actual state of the pupils, as to knowledge, and moral and intellectual training’: time was needed before the University would be able to create its own atmosphere and a standard both in knowledge and of moral character. ‘In the meantime it must take the youth as it finds them, and make the best of them, which entails a certain period of experimental action.’ (‘Report on the Organization of the Catholic University of Ireland’, October 1851)