Catholic University president says he will step down next year

Dr. John Garvey Dr. John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, discusses religious freedom at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 16, 2013/ CNA

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., will be stepping down from his role as of June 30, 2022, the school announced today. 

Garvey revealed his decision in a Sept. 22 letter to the university community. He is the university’s third lay president, and has served in the role since 2010.

“The time has come to turn the responsibility over to those younger minds and stronger lives,” Garvey said. He noted that conversations with university board members about his decision began around six months ago.

Garvey said that he largely achieved the goals he set for his presidency, having entered the role “hoping I could contribute something to building up the institution.” 

“I did not foresee how much I would fall in love with it. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of this University,” he said. 

Garvey described his tenure leading the university as “a time of tremendous growth” that had “reinvigorated our Catholic intellectual life.” During his time as president, Catholic University established the Busch School of Business and the Conway School of Nursing. 

“We have greatly increased the wealth of the University by raising more than half a billion dollars and nearly doubling our total assets,” said Garvey in his letter. “And we have made much of this possible by changing our form of corporate governance to ensure episcopal oversight while entrusting the laity with leadership.” 

Prior to his time as president of the university, Garvey served as dean at Boston College Law School. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School. 

“Living on campus has allowed Jeanne and me to see students at Mass in the morning and in the President’s Office during the day,” said Garvey. “Students come to Nugent to borrow our sleds and walk our dog. We attend their concerts and games, work with them on service days, and march with them for life and other worthy causes. These are daily occurrences, and every day they give me just a little more pride in our University.”

Leading the school has been “an honor and a privilege,” he said, noting he was “grateful to the bishops, and to the board of trustees, for their support and collaboration in building a strong foundation for the University’s future.” 

The Catholic University of America is a pontifical university and is the only college or university in the United States to have been founded by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. The school was established in 1887. 

The university has already begun its search to replace Garvey, and the new president is expected to be hired by July 1, 2022.

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