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

Bunnell Resigns

CAMPUS MINISTRY Bunnell Resigns Chaplain’s GU Tenure arked by Controversy By Arianne Aryanpur Hoya Staff Writer


After five years of service with Campus Ministry, University Chaplain Adam Bunnell, O.F.M., Conv., announced his resignation to the Georgetown community on Monday. Bunnell’s resignation will take effect June 30.

“After giving the matter considerable thought and after discussing my plans with [University] President [John J.] DeGioia, I have decided to resign as university chaplain,” Bunnell said. “I do with some sadness but I am convinced that this is the right step for me at this time.”

Since coming to Georgetown in 1997, Bunnell has seen the university through a number of changes and challenges, according to DeGioia.

“As university chaplain, Adam actively promoted Georgetown’s Catholic identity while working to enhance services for all members of the university community,” he said. “Under his leadership, Campus Ministry’s response to the events of Sept. 11 serves as a vivid reminder of the benefits all of us at Georgetown have received from this office.”

According to DeGioia, Bunnell’s achievements include strengthening the role of lay ministers in the Roman Catholic tradition and enhancing the Muslim ministry by hiring Imam Yahya Hendi as the first full-time Muslim chaplain at a Catholic university.

During his time at Georgetown, Campus Ministry and its leadership under Bunnell came under scrutiny both by campus organizations and university administrators.

“Our work together has not always been easy but no dream can be fulfilled without struggle along the way,” Bunnell said.

In April of 1999 Bunnell’s elimination of the only two full-time Protestant ministry positions at Georgetown prompted concern within the student body. His decision was due to what he called budget constraints.

This January Bunnell again came under scrutiny for allegedly proposing to deny funding for the Jewish Student Association’s annual Hallelujah Shabbat service. Bunnell later withdrew his alleged decision saying that denying funding was “never under consideration.”

Aaron Polkey (COL ’02) called Bunnell’s resignation an excellent opportunity for Georgetown to rethink its approach to Campus Ministry. “I hope that he is replaced with a Jesuit who has extensive experience interacting with students,” he said. “Also, I hope the university in the future chooses to collaborate more with students and develops its policies regarding Campus Ministry rather than issuing its decisions from above.”

Bunnell also expanded Georgetown’s Jewish ministry to make it the largest in the D.C. area through his cooperation with the Hillel Foundation, a national campus organization that promotes the celebration of Jewish identity.

“In addition to becoming a much sought-after confessor and guide, Adam has also taught at least one course each semester and has represented Georgetown at national and international meetings,” DeGioia said.

Bunnell increased the services provided by Protestant ministry and helped initiate programs such as Jesuit Heritage Week as well, according to DeGioia.

Last spring, then-Jewish Student Association President Ory Abramowicz (SFS ’02) met with then-University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., and his Special Assistant Michael Garanzini, S.J., to discuss their concerns with Campus Ministry and its leadership. The meeting prompted the university to conduct an internal review of Campus Ministry which included a meeting between Garanzini and Bunnell, according to Assistant Vice President for Communications Julie Green Bataille.

“I hope that the next university chaplain will be one that is respectful of different faith groups, works more effectively with leaders of different religious communities and promotes a greater sense of community despite religious differences within Georgetown,” Abramowicz said.

“I hope that he realizes that he has an entire staff and a great group to work with and that if he can work with them effectively, Campus Ministry will be a valuable university group,” he added.

JSA Vice President Paul Kutner (COL ’02) said he was disappointed with Bunnell’s resignation. “It’s a tough job and a balancing act,” Kutner said. “I think he did a good job even though [JSA] sometimes disagreed with him.”

Campus ministry once again came under question in October 2001 when Bunnell eliminated the position of the Gospel choir’s assistant director and accompanist due to what he called insufficient funds to sustain the position. Bunnell’s sudden decision pushed choir members to specifically question Bunnell’s allocation of university funds.

“I am hoping that now we will have someone who will be able to better facilitate communication between Campus Ministry and the gospel choir,” Gospel choir Director Camilla McFarlane (COL ’02) said of Bunnell’s resignation.

Polkey added that he hopes that with Bunnell’s resignation the university will move away from making sudden decisions, especially those involving finances within the ministry.

DeGioia said he will employ the same process used to fill other senior positions to, such as the senior vice president, to fill Bunnell’s position.

“We will seek to identify candidates with distinguished careers in ministry and academics who understand the unique culture and character of Georgetown,” DeGioia said. “Given the importance of this position, I will ask students, faculty, administrators and alumni to participate in the recruitment process.”

In his letter of resignation, Bunnell looked to the future.

“It has been an honor to be associated with you and with Georgetown,” Bunnell said.

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