‘The grain of wheat has fallen into the earth and has begun to sprout, fragile but full of life and rich with promise. This gives cause for great and sincere thanks to those who, with dedication and generosity, have worked to set up the Institute and to help it through its teething pains. As we have gone along, we have realized the beauty, the originality and also our responsibility for the ‘idea’ of a university that Chiara Lubich, with inspired intuition and tremendous trust, committed to our care.’ These are the words of the theologian Piero Coda during a live interview (published in Italian on the Sophia’s site) following the confirmation of his presidency for the next four years. ‘Sophia, today, is a reality.’
How do things look academically? The President explains them:
- in the second cycle, several specialisms have become separate subjects (trinitarian ontology, political studies, economics and management, taken in the wider context of a culture of unity’s human and sociological implications);
- the success of the doctoral cycle and beginning of a post-doctoral ‘school’;
- innovation in teaching methods (‘inter’ and ‘trans-discipliniarity’) and formation for the whole person, and an educational programme;
- inter-cultural and inter-religious openness;
- synergies in research and various forms of collaboration, in the immediate vicinity, nationally and internationally.
The news of the renewal of Piero Coda’s term of office reached the University Institute in July. The decree by the Congregation for Catholic Education had been expected. It was dated 11 July 2012 and sent to Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement and the Institute’s Vice-Chancellor. The Congregation’s initial appointment in 2008 had been at the request of Chiara Lubich herself, slightly earlier in the year, on 12 March, just two days before her death.
The election of the President has a specific procedure with a clear purpose: to protect both the total academic autonomy of the Institute and its essential link with the Focolare Movement, while the appointment by the Vatican dicastery overseeing university education emphasizes the Institute’s academic nature.
What are the priorities for his second term of office? Piero Coda replies: ‘The things I am most concerned about are faithfulness to the idea behind the Institute and the growth of a spirit of fraternity animating the various parts of the academic community; the development of its academic project along the lines we have been called to discern and interpret; and the commitment to establish, both realistically and prophetically, a place where it is possible to exercise and to learn the novel approach, the art of ‘thinking together’…
‘The true director is the Spirit of the Risen Jesus who blows and illumines what we strive to do, having dropped all our defences, ready to welcome him with freedom and listen to him with intelligence. Isn’t this what “Sophia” really is? Something so divine because it is so human, and at the same time, something that fascinates, something we wish to love and share with everyone who, in any way, we are called to walk together with towards the united world already beginning to emerge among the contradictions of our times?’