Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Langan Appointed Catholic Studies Chair

Langan Appointed Catholic Studies Chair

O’Donovan Calls for Second Chair; Plans for a Center Uncertain

By Tim Sullivan Hoya Staff Writer

An anonymous donor took one step this summer toward renewing Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity by endowing the Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Chair in Catholic Social Thought. University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., announced in his Faculty Convocation address Sept. 22 that Philosophy Professor John Langan, S.J., would assume the newly created position.

The Catholic studies chair was one of several recommendations O’Donovan made this year to renew Georgetown’s Catholic identity. Other recommendations include establishing committees to enhance faculty diversity and to advise Georgetown on its ethics and business conduct.

“This is a well-earned achievement for Father Langan, which we will celebrate appropriately in the months to come,” O’Donovan said in his address. “Congratulations, John.”

Langan previously held the Rose Kennedy Professorship in Christian Ethics. The position is now vacant and will be filled by the university.

The Task Force on Catholic and Jesuit Identity, which published a report last spring, called for the creation of a Catholic Social Thought Center with six endowed chairs. However, O’Donovan said he feels that the tasks force’s proposal is too ambitious for the present.

“My feeling is that we should begin more modestly, attract another scholar of national stature and let Father Langan and that person help us imagine further academic possibilities,” O’Donovan said.

Langan said that establishing a center would require a significant amount of resources, and that he feels it is best to move forward slowly.

“Catholic social thought is . relevant to issues in government, economics, in the business school, the law school, as well as in the theology and philosophy departments,” Langan said. “It becomes a big interdisciplinary subject. One wants to move cautiously and gradually on that.”

While the prospect of the Catholic Social Thought Center is uncertain, Langan has his own vision of what it would entail.

“I think [the call for the center] means that we need programs, ideas and courses that will make Catholicism an active and integral part of the life of the university,” he said.

Langan said that his appointment as chair and the proposed center do not represent a need to compensate for a lack of Catholic identity on campus, but rather are there to renew the identity Georgetown already posseses.

“Concerns require renewal from time to time, [and] some effort is appropriate from time to time,” he said. “It doesn’t imply a failure or sharp change in policy.”

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