Professor Patrick Deneen, the director of the Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, will resign from Georgetown at the end of the semester after seven years at the university.
Deneen will leave his post as the Tsakopoulos-KounalakisChair in Hellenic Studies in the government department for a similar position in the University of Notre Dame’s department of political science, leaving the future of the Tocqueville Forum uncertain.
While Deneen said that he has greatly enjoyed teaching at Georgetown, he hopes to play a more integral role at Notre Dame.
“I go from [a university] where I find myself often at the periphery … to one [at] which I have been recruited explicitly as [a professor] who can be a significant contributor to the life and mission of the institution,” he said.
Deneen, the founding director of the Tocqueville Forum, which intends to preserve America’s roots in Western philosophical tradition, cited poor reception of the center by the faculty and administration as one of his reasons for leaving.
“[Over] the years, it has been increasingly evident to me that I have exceedingly few allies and friends elsewhere on the faculty to join me in this work and dim prospects that the trajectory of faculty hiring will change,” he wrote in an email to select students Sunday night. “I have felt isolated from the heart of the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion.”
He added that he will have the chance to further the Catholic identity of Notre Dame, an opportunity that he believes was not available to him at Georgetown.
“I have decided that I would like to be welcomed as a contributor to the widely-embraced institutional mission of the university where I intend always to devote so much of my time, energy and passion, rather than someone who is largely regarded as an outlier,” he wrote in the email.
Kieran Raval (COL ’13), a student fellow in the Toqueville Forum, said Deneen was approachable to students and brought the study of America’s Western heritage alive.
“He’s a great teacher, and I’ve never actually had him in class,” he said. “I think he’s a great … beacon of the liberal arts tradition at Georgetown and … of classical learning.”
In his email, Deneen wrote that he is concerned that it will be difficult to find a replacement to serve as director of the Tocqueville Forum.
Helen Decelles-Zwerneman (COL ’14), another student fellow in the forum and one of Deneen’sprevious students, said she too is worried about the program without his leadership. The forum was one of the primary reasons Decelles-Zwerneman decided to attend Georgetown.
“As the director of the Tocqueville Forum, I’m not sure he’s really replaceable,” she said. “I hope that the forum can continue without him, but I can’t see how it [will continue] to be as great as a group and … resource.”
There is not a position similar to that which he had in the Tocqueville Forum waiting for Deneen at Notre Dame, but he has not excluded the possibility that he will assume such a role there some day.
“It’s explicitly because of the kinds of courses I teach and the focus of my writing that I was recruited,” he said.