The Catholic University of America

John Garvey Named Catholic University President

Boston College Law School Dean to Succeed Bishop David O'Connell

  John Garvey press conference

John Garvey addresses members of the media after then announcement of his appointment as president of The Catholic University of America.

> See more photos from the news conference

> View slideshow from CUA welcome reception

The Catholic University of America  announced on June 15 that John Garvey, dean of Boston College Law School since 1999, has been appointed CUA’s 15th president effective July 1, 2010.

Garvey, a nationally renowned constitutional law expert, was introduced at a press conference at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center by Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit and chairman of both the CUA Board of Trustees and the CUA Presidential Search Committee. He will be joined by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., outgoing president of Catholic University, and Garvey’s wife, Jeanne.

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I take great satisfaction in presenting to the members of the Catholic University community and to the wider public Dean John Garvey as the next president of CUA” said Archbishop Vigneron.

The archbishop noted that in the search process the trustees “have been guided by the aim of identifying someone who, by building upon the achievements of Bishop O'Connell, will advance the mission of CUA so that it will shine out as exemplifying the nature of a Catholic university in service to the Church and to the nation. This means we were looking for a person who not only is committed to the vision of Ex corde Ecclesiae [Pope John II’s apostolic constitution that lays out the identity and mission of Catholic colleges and universities] and can articulate it persuasively, but also can lead The Catholic University of America in achieving this ambitious goal.”

“We have found that person in Dean Garvey,” said Archbishop Vigneron, who described him as “a man of strong Catholic faith with rich experience and a proven record as a scholar and a leader in higher education.”

Archbishop Vigneron added, “We are confident that all of the administrators, faculty, staff and students, as well as alumni and parents, will share our enthusiasm upon coming to know him. I invite the university community to support President Garvey with their prayers, especially to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, the University Patron and Protector, to obtain for him the help he needs in order to advance the mission of CUA, for the glory of God and the good of the Church and our country.”

Related Links  

> Read about the press conference announcing Garvey's appointment

> Story and photos from the welcome reception

> Statements by CUA chancellor and president of the board of trustees

> Biographical information

> Videos

> Photos

> Post a message on the Guestbook


The appointment of Garvey, past president of the Association of American Law Schools, brings to a close the university’s nine-month search for a new leader to replace Bishop O’Connell, who announced last October that he would be stepping down and who earlier this month was named coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Trenton.

In advance of the press conference, Garvey explained his reasons for seeking the presidency of Catholic University. “For more than a decade I have been the dean of Boston College Law School, an institution I have loved and been honored to serve. I can think of no other job I would have left BC for. But I have been committed for much of my life to advancing the cause of Catholic higher education, and there is no better place to do that than at The Catholic University of America. I hope during my term as president to continue the work Bishop O’Connell has done to build the quality of its academic programs, both graduate and undergraduate, and the endowment necessary to support them.”

Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, will be unable to attend the press conference but issued a statement of support. “It is a great joy for me as chancellor of The Catholic University of America to welcome John H. Garvey as the university’s new president. He brings with him a wealth of experience as a lawyer, university professor and administrator. Personally, I look forward to working with him. This is an exciting time for the university as it lives its Catholic identity, strengthens its academic achievements and provides a campus life reflective of both realities. In all of this our new president brings great promise.”

As university chancellor, Archbishop’s Wuerl’s role is to serve as the institution’s representative to the Vatican. Given CUA’s unique status as a pontifical university and the national university of the Catholic Church in the U.S., Garvey’s appointment to the presidency required Vatican approval after the Board of Trustees selected him.

Bishop O’Connell, who like Archbishops Vigneron and Wuerl is a CUA alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees, noted that the board has chosen “a competent, seasoned academic administrator” as CUA’s 15th president. “John Garvey has demonstrated a serious commitment to Catholic identity and academic excellence in his long and distinguished career. I have every confidence that he will lead CUA effectively in service to our mission."

  Archbishop Vigneron, John Garvey, Bishop O'Connell
  Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, left, John H. Garvey and Bishop David O'Connell pose for a photo after the news conference announcing Garvey's appointment.

Prior to his appointment as Boston College Law School dean, Garvey served as a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School from 1994 to 1999; as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School from 1985 to 1986; and as a professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law from 1976 to 1994.

He served as assistant to the solicitor general at the U.S. Department of Justice from 1981 to 1984; as an associate at Morrison & Foerster, in San Francisco, from 1975 to 1976; and as a law clerk to Irving R. Kaufman, United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, from 1974 to 1975.

He has been awarded fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Danforth Foundation. At age 34 he was elected to the American Law Institute.

He is the author of “What Are Freedoms For?” (Harvard University Press, 1996) and the
co-author of four books, including “Sexuality and the U.S. Catholic Church” (Herder & Herder 2007) and “Religion and the Constitution” (Aspen, second edition 2006).

“Sexuality and the U.S. Catholic Church,” a volume of essays, won an award from the Catholic Press Association. “Religion and the Constitution” won the Jesuit Book Award from Alpha Sigma Nu.

Garvey earned a J.D. in 1974 at Harvard Law School, where he served as treasurer of the Harvard Law Review. He was a candidate for a master’s in theological studies in 1970 and1971 at the Harvard Divinity School and earned an A.B. in 1970 at the University of Notre Dame.