John H. Garvey, Dean of Boston College Law School, will be named the new President of Catholic University of America tomorrow…
The Catholic University of America (CUA), is the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States. Founded and sponsored by the bishops of the country with the approval of the Holy See, CUA states that it “is committed to being a comprehensive Catholic and American institution of higher learning, faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed on by the Church.”
Regular ATL readers know that Dean Garvey has defended the Catholic interpretation of Jesus Christ before…
Many will remember that last year, BC Law professor Scott Fitzgibbon appeared in a Maine commercial speaking out against marriage equality. Some argued that Fitzgibbon tried to use his status as a law professor to add credibility to his opinions that are grounded more in the Bible than in the Constitution. But Dean Garvey defended the professor’s right to make the commercial, and Fitzgibbon’s right to teach BC’s marriage law class, regardless of how gays and lesbians at BC Law felt about the situation.
It’s likely that Garvey’s Catholic bona fides helped him secure this new position:
Garvey has also been a champion of Catholics and conservatives. In one of Garvey’s first acts as Dean of Boston College Law School in 1999, for example, Garvey chastised the faculty: “This faculty will not hire a conservative or a Catholic,” he said.
Earlier that same year, however, Garvey was denied a top spot Notre Dame on account of his religious and political beliefs. In contention for the deanship of Notre Dame Law School, a vocal minority at that institution reportedly vetoed Garvey’s nomination because he was “too Catholic, too conservative, and too elitist.”
Too Catholic and too conservative and too elitist for Notre Dame? Somebody should ask the Big Ten whether anything can be too elitist for ND.
In any event, these concerns obviously did not trouble Catholic University. In fact, Garvey’s appointment represents a secular shift for the university. The Washington Post reports:
The transition marks a significant shift for Catholic, which has spent the past dozen years rediscovering its spiritual identity under the guidance of an energetic cleric. Leadership now passes to a lay administrator, who spent a semester at Harvard Divinity School before moving to Harvard Law, where he graduated in 1974…
“The board would have seen a lot of advantages to having a priest be the president, but in the end the board asked the search committee to put forward the best candidates,” he said.
Well, one search ends and another begins. Will the people who run Boston College Law School look to find a new dean that will perhaps be a little more welcoming to gays and lesbians? Or should gays and lesbians just go to Boston University instead?