A “Call Out” and “Two Thumbs Up” to Professor Patrick Deneen

What’s a tenured associate professor of government teaching at a Catholic university to do when he believes the institution isn’t really Catholic?

It’s pretty easy to say “Give up your tenure and go where you will find what you are looking for.”  Sometimes, witness to one’s faith entails suffering.

Agreed.  But, making that decision isn’t so simple when other considerations—like those of family, financial obligations (a mortgage, for example), and the like—must also be factored into the equation.

The situation presents an authentic ethical dilemma, one that confronted a former Associate Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Patrick Deneen.

In a letter published at Front Porch Republic, Deneen said with regard to Georgetown University:

…Georgetown increasingly and inevitably remakes itself in the image of its secular peers, ones that have no internal standard of what a university is for other than the aspiration of prestige for the sake of prestige, its ranking rather than its commitment to Truth. Its Catholic identity, which should inform every activity of the community, from curriculum to dorm life to faculty hiring, has increasingly been cordoned off to optional activities of Campus Ministry.

Describing his experience, Deneen wrote:

In the seven years since I joined the faculty at Georgetown, I have found myself often at odds with the trajectory and many decisions of the university.  In 2006 I founded The Tocqueville Forum as a campus organization that would offer a different perspective, one centered on the moral underpinnings of liberal learning that are a precondition for the continued existence of liberal democracy, and one that would draw upon the deep wisdom contained in the Catholic humanistic tradition.  I have been heartened and overjoyed to witness the great enthusiasm among a myriad of students for the programming and activities of the Forum.  However, the program was not supported or recognized by the institution, and that seemed unlikely to change.  While I did not seek that approval, I had hoped over the years that the program would be attractive to colleagues across disciplines on the faculty, and would be a rallying-point for those interested in reviving and defending classical liberal learning on campus.  The Tocqueville Forum fostered a strong community of inquiry among a sizeable number of students, but I did not find that there was any such community formed around its mission, nor the likely prospect of one, among the more permanent members of the university. I have felt isolated and often lonely at the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion.

So, where is Professor Deneen headed?

The University of Notre Dame (UND).

However, Deneen appears not to be headed to South Bend blinded by all of the UND hype.  He wrote:

I don’t doubt that there will be many battles at Our Lady’s University.  But, there are at least some comrades-in-arms to share in the effort.

UND hired Deneen, he wrote, because they regard him as “someone who can be a significant contributor to its mission and identity, particularly the Catholic identity of the institution.”

Although considerations like these are not typically a criterion for hiring at Georgetown as Deneen noted, The Motley Monk would humbly suggest that even in those institutions where they are, there’s quite a distance between espousing those ideals and translating them to pedagogical lessons in every classroom, dorm, and student activity.

For Professor Deneen’s willingness to witness to the importance of an institution’s Catholic identity in name and in fact, The Motley Monk offers a “call out” and “both thumb up.”

To read Professor Deneen’s letter, click on the following link:
http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2012/01/why-i-am-leaving-georgetown/

To follow The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

9 Responses to A “Call Out” and “Two Thumbs Up” to Professor Patrick Deneen

  • Mike Petrik says:

    My impression — and it is only that — is that Notre Dame accepts its Catholic identity and is genuinely proud of it, even if it all too often misunderstands it; while Georgetown cannot quite decide if it should accept its Catholicity or be embarrassed by it. I could be wrong.

  • bill bannon says:

    The rise of the gay pride organisation at Georgetown with its lavender graduation was coerced by the Supreme Court in view of a D.C. law and presages the recent arising health insurance dilemna facing the Church:

    from their history of their rise….
    1980

    “GPGU petitions GU for recognition again and is denied for the third time; GPGU and the Gay Rights Coalition (GU Law Center) sue GU for recognition under the DC Human Rights Act. In Gay Rights Coalition v. Georgetown University, the Supreme Court rules that Georgetown University has violated the D.C. Human Rights Law by refusing to recognize its LGBTQ organization.”

    see their history with their frequent infiltrations of campus tours for new students:

    http://studentorgs.georgetown.edu/pride/?Action=About

    In a 1988 settlement, GU ends up indirectly funding them:
    “After 8 years of litigation and 199 years after its founding, GU settles with GPGU , agreeing to fund the group through a secondary body as to not violate Catholic teaching regarding homosexuality. This led to the creation of the Student Activities Commission (SAC). ”

    So the question is….would Christ fund a sodomy group through a secondary body. No…I think He would close the school and move it to another area. My cousin is gay and I’ve prayed for her for decades and will pray until her death as I prayed for her partner who died and was a divorced Catholic who turned gay after divorce. She, when alive and thinking I would agree, denounced to me certain relatives who objected but then was fiercely mad at me for agreeing with them and saying to her face that
    Scripture is crystal clear in Romans 1 that it is deadly sin for both genders.

  • Michael J Petry says:

    I have a couple of questions regarding this and maybe it is because I am in search of, on a conquest for my own authentic masculinity. Do we stay and fight in a situation like this…or is the can kicked so far down the road that return to Catholic University status at G’Town is slim to none? Can more of an effective fight be waged at ND which needs to be more authentically Catholic (at least what I can see from the news the last few years).

  • Mike Petrik says:

    Michael,
    I think that folks should fight the good fight from whereever they sit. I see no reason, or really any practical ability, to engage in our unfortunate culture war on just certain fronts or battlegrounds. Catholics who care about Georgetown or who are in a position to be influential there should direct their energies there, just as Catholics with ND relationships should fight the good fight there. That is just my 2 cents.

  • T. Shaw says:

    “conquest”

    “fight”

    “fight”

    “war”

    “battleground”

    “fight”

    “fight”

    I love it when you guys comment thusly.

    Let them also “admonish”, “counsel”, “instruct”, and “pray for.”

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