Law Expert to Head Catholic University of America

John Garvey Stresses Faith’s Role in Higher Education

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 16, 2010 ( John Garvey, who was serving as dean of Boston College Law School, was named president of the Catholic University of America.

The announcement was made Tuesday that Garvey was chosen to succeed Bishop-elect David O’Connell, who was appointed earlier this month by Benedict XVI as coadjutor bishop for the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey.

In a press conference, Garvey affirmed that «Catholic universities have a distinctive intellectual contribution to make in higher education.»

«They, and this university in particular, have something important to add to the richness of American higher education,» he added.

Garvey noted that the most important thing offered by the university’s schools of theology and religious studies, philosophy, and canon law «is the invitation they give to students who come here and to faculty who do their work here to consider the range of human knowledge from the point of view of the faith that motivates and inspires this university — whether they are interested in art and biology or classics and literature or nursing.»

«Our faith contributes something in addition to what you get at other American universities,» he emphasized.

«It’s an especially exciting time for Catholic higher education because the Catholic Church has made a conscious decision to expand and enliven its contribution to education,» Garvey noted.

Committed Catholic

The new president, who will take up his position on July 1, was chosen by the university’s board of trustees, which is chaired by Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit.

The prelate described Garvey as «a man of strong faith in Christ and a committed member of the Catholic Church.»

«We are confident in our selection of the new president that he will continue to lead us forward on the basis of what Bishop O’Connell has accomplished,» said Archbishop Vigneron.

He added that «the board is very dedicated to the advancement of the mission of this university, which is to make progress in the dialogue between faith and reason.»

«To that end,» the archbishop said, «we expect the new president to advance us in academic excellence, to strengthen student life and to find the resources […] we need for our ambitious goals.»

For his part, Garvey acknowledged that the «Catholic University of America is well situated to play an important role» in the lives of young people today.

He underlined the need to attract a greater number of people, especially Hispanics, who comprise one-third of the Catholic population in the United States. «We have a responsibility to all of the Catholics in parishes around the United States to extend the opportunities of our education,» Garvey affirmed.

Garvey is the third lay president of the Catholic University of America. Since the institution is a pontifical university and the national university of the Church in the United States, his appointment was also approved by the Vatican.

Archbishop Vigneron noted that «another synonym for cleric is church man,» and «while Professor Garvey is not a church man, he is a man of the Church.»

Garvey earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. He has served as a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School, a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School and a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law.

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