The president of The Catholic University of America will speak at the University of St. Thomas this month in the third of five lectures dealing with the challenges facing U.S. Catholic colleges and universities.

John Garvey

John Garvey, president of Catholic University and former dean of Boston College Law School, will discuss “The Challenges of Mission-Focused Leadership at a Catholic University” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 14, in Woulfe Alumni Hall in the Anderson Student Center on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus.

The program, free and open to the public, is co-sponsored by a coalition of eight St. Thomas centers and institutes. For more information and to register, visit this website or call  (651) 962-4842.

“While all institutions of higher learning are confronting economic and demographic challenges, Catholic colleges and universities face added pressures,” explained Elizabeth Schiltz, a professor at St. Thomas’ School of Law and co-director of one of the series’ sponsors, the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy.

“We have additional challenges, but also opportunities,” she said. “Catholic universities like St. Thomas welcome a diverse student body. Some students are Catholic, some are from other religions and some are not from any religion. We strive to respect all students and to nurture this diversity, and at the same time we strive to protect our religious identity. 

“This is a delicate and sometimes tricky balance to achieve,” she said. “At St. Thomas, we found that many faculty and staff have been discussing as well as dealing with this challenge. It led us to create this series and bring to campus noted leaders in Catholic higher education from around the country.”

The series opened in March with a visit from Father Robert Spitzer, former president of Gonzaga University, followed by a visit from Lee Shulman, former president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Scheduled this fall are visits from Father James Burns of Boston College and Patricia O’Hara of Notre Dame School of Law.

Garvey, president of Catholic University since July 2010, is an author and expert in constitutional law, religious liberty and the First Amendment. Garvey’s biography notes that his “faith and belief in the Catholic intellectual tradition have played a central role in his teaching and scholarly research, which span more than three decades.”

In addition to the Murphy Institute, the St. Thomas series is sponsored by the Center for Catholic Studies, John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought, School of Law, Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions, Koch Chair in Business Ethics, Center for Ethical Business Cultures and Veritas Institute.

Light refreshments will be served following the Garvey program June 14.