Catholic University of America chooses new president

6 15 2010 Garvey2 John H. Garvey

On Tuesday, Catholic University of America announced that Boston College law school dean, John H. Garvey, will be its new president.

Garvey, a 61-year-old father of five who has served as dean of the Boston College Law School since 1999, will replace Fr. David M. O'Connell, who was recently appointed as Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey.

According to his Boston College biography, the new Catholic University president attended Notre Dame in 1970 and law school at Harvard in 1974. He later served as assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General during Ronald Reagan's administration and taught at various schools before coming to Boston College in 1999. At the age of 34, Garvey was elected to the American Law Institute.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, who chairs the university's board of trustees and led the search for the new president, told the Washington Post on Tuesday that he fully expects Garvey to continue the work of reclaiming the Catholic identity of the university, despite the general surprise over the school choosing a layman as leader.

“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,” Archbishop Vigneron explained.

The Detroit archbishop then praised the newly elected president for his legal expertise and experience. 

“I'm very grateful that he's an accomplished scholar, and I think he brings from his legal scholarship a lot of wisdom about the church's place in contemporary society,” the prelate noted.

“He's a very thoughtful man, very measured. He tries to bring light and insight to matters about which there's a lot of argument.”

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