University of Dallas’ St. Ambrose Center


Missionary Work for Classical Education

This past summer, the University of Dallas hired Andrew Ellison as the director of the Saint Ambrose Center for Catholic Liberal Education and Culture. Ellison previously worked at Great Hearts as the Executive Director for San Antonio.

“I’ve worked 26 years entirely in K-12 education in the classical charter school space as a teacher, as a school principal and as a district administrator, so I’m pretty new to any sort of university employment vocation,” Ellison said.

“We’re really thrilled that they hired [Ellison]. I think he’s the perfect person for the job. He has so much experience,” said Dr. Laura Eidt, professor of humanities, classics and modern languages. “He understands classical education so well, and he understands the bridge between K-12 and higher education.”

The Saint Ambrose Center for Catholic Liberal Education and Culture has been a subset of UD with its own staff since 2021 and has operated under two directors prior to Ellison.

He said, “The St. Ambrose Center has, among other things, done training and professional development and vision casting at K-12 schools around the country and the St. Ambrose Center is in the process of reorienting all of its energy and resources to serving and supporting K-12 schools, offering them a UD inspired vision of education.”

Carey Christenberry, director of admissions, said, “The St. Ambrose Center is a beautiful extension of the Core curriculum.”

Despite being a relatively new part of UD, the Saint Ambrose Center has several projects underway.

Dr. Shannon Valenzuela, associate director of the Saint Ambrose Center and affiliate assistant professor of humanities, has been in charge of “The Quest” video series airing on EWTN.

“[“The Quest”] is designed to share the educational vision of the university and to help people think through living a life of purpose with courage in the world,” said Valenzuela.

There was a screening of an episode of the series during alumni and family weekend.

William Perales, director of pre-K-12 curriculum and professional development services at the St. Ambrose Center, said, “I work with elementary and high schools and support them in a variety of ways from curriculum ideas, resources to training teachers, teacher formation, working with school leaders and administration and coaching them throughout the year.”

Perales and his team have worked with over 80 schools since the Center’s conception.

According to Perales, “[Our clientele] are mostly Catholic schools, then some independent schools, also some non-Catholic Christian schools, and then classical charter schools. We also work with homeschool co-ops and homeschool groups that have moved into a university or hybrid model.”

Perales and Eidt are currently working with the St. Ambrose Center and UD faculty on the biggest project of the initiative: composing UD’s own humanities curriculum for six elementary grade levels to publish for the use of clients.

Eidt said, “[We] do have some people actually in Australia and some [clients] in the UK and South Africa.”

All international clients at this point are homeschool co-ops.

The project is not complete as of yet. Any clients, current and future, who intend to purchase the curriculum will have to wait some time before it is finished.

Additionally, the official website for the Saint Ambrose Center, found on the university’s website, remains out of date. If one should try to find out more information about the Center and the humanities curriculum, the website should not be the first place to look.

“It’s funny because we tell people if you want to know what we do, don’t go to our website because it’s out of date,” said Ellison.

“The St. Ambrose Center will be partnering with the University of Dallas’ office of professional and career development to host a classical education job fair in late winter of next year, and we’ll be inviting K-12 schools from all over the country to come and interview University of Dallas students and see about hiring them for education jobs.”

The university will continue to reach out to schools around the world in order to spread the vision of UD. The St. Ambrose Center for Catholic Liberal Education and Culture serves as the missionary for the UD mission and St. Ambrose, the teacher of St. Augustine, a father of the Church.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here