Director: Gerald Malsbary, PhD
First-Year Symposium Office: St. Leo 104

The First-Year Symposium is Belmont Abbey College’s “gateway course.” It introduces entering First-Year students to a Catholic Liberal Arts education. The main aim of the course – taught in small classes by teachers from many disciplines — is to foster an appreciation for the kind of education students will receive at the Abbey, and to prepare them for academic success. Through a variety of assignments, outside the classroom activities, and study of the fundamental texts of the Benedictine tradition (the Rule and Life of St. Benedict), we whet their appetite for the study of the Catholic intellectual tradition which they will encounter throughout the core curriculum. Reading Cicero’s On Friendship and C.S. Lewis’s The Four Loves helps them to consider what friendship and love are and to learn how to be a good friend and to make life-long friends.

This course is required for all first-time, traditional college students and for those who transfer to BAC with less than thirteen credits. The first assignment is based on the summer reading – a book sent out to all entering students in early summer. At the beginning of the school year, meeting up with one’s First-Year Symposium Professor and class for the first time is one of the highlights of Freshman Orientation. That same teacher will serve as your personal advisor until you declare a major (by the end of your second year).

FYS also features a “Visit with the Monks” and “Love the Abbey Day” (a campus work project), a cultural and/or adventurous field-trip with your FYS teacher and class, and a visit to the Library for hands-on instruction in electronic research. The First-Year Symposium offers a semester-long “welcome” for new students. You will have the opportunity to grow personally, intellectually, socially, and spiritually as you make strong, new friendships. The First-Year Symposium is not only a gateway course at the Abbey, but a gateway course to your collegiate life—helping you to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and virtue.