by Alex Cospave
Ecumenical co-operation in higher education took a step forward in Liverpool last week when Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool and Bishop David Sheppard, Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, announced the appointment of the first Rector of the Liverpool Institute of Higher Education.
The institute has been in operation since 1974 and consists of the Anglican college of St Katherine's and the Catholic colleges of Christ's and Notre Dame. Its new Rector will be Professor James Burke, 48, a Catholic, Professor of Physical Metallurgy and Vice-Principal of the University College of Swansea.
As part of the institute's development it is also planned to merge Christ's and Notre Dame in September this year. The new college will be called Christ's and Notre Dame College. A year later Notre Dame will vacate its present buildings in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool, and move to the site in Woolton Road already shared by Christ's and St K atherine's.
The institute will have 1,500 students and the federation is taking place to provide a stronger and more varied academic base within an ecumenical context for higher education in the area.
Welcoming Professor Burke to his new post, which he will take up in September, Archbishop Worlock said the post carried forward many of his cherished hopes for higher education. "The proposed federation has great educational and ecumenical importance, and this new appointment is both achievement and encouragement", he said.
The informal federation has been in operation for four years, and partnership between the colleges at both staff and student level is already a firm reality. according to Bishop Sheppard.
"The appointment of the first Rector is a most important focus to the united life of the institute." he said. "The partnership between the colleges of different Christian denominations is of the greatest significance in ecumenical relations in Liverpool."
Professor Burke, has pre viously worked with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and at Liverpool University. Ile has lectured extensively throughout America and Europe.