Collegiate house: role of the dean

Newman’s idea was that the dean of a collegiate house would be the governor or the president of the house, ‘with jurisdiction over all persons in it, with responsible care of the young men in intellectual as well as moral respects, with the duty of seeing that they have sufficient private tuition’, and with a seat on the University Senate.

Newman summarised the dean’s overall responsibilities as follows:

The Heads of Houses are charged with the moral and intellectual advancement of the Students of their Houses, who are strictly committed to them as pupilli, and are under their tutelage. They are responsible for their religious and correct deportment, for their observance of the Rules both of the House and of the University, and for their acquitting themselves adequately both before the Professors and the Examiners. (‘Scheme of Rules and Regulations’)

Newman refers to the pastoral responsibilities of the dean when speaking of the college as ‘a place of residence for the University student, who would then find himself under the guidance and instruction of Superiors and tutors, bound to attend to his personal interests, moral and intellectual’. (Rise and progress of universities) All this he describes at length in rousing images of security and sanctuary.

Newman found that ‘Deans are too hard to be got – they are either as strict as Prefects in an Ecclesiastical Seminary, or they are indulgent and lax.’ (Newman to Bellasis, 6 April 1858)

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