A battle over ‘Catholic identity’ at Catholic University of America

Source: Religion News Service

BY Jack Jenkins

WASHINGTON (RNS) — In February 2012, about a year after John Garvey was named 15th president of the Catholic University of America, Stephen McKenna, chair of the media studies department, was trying to fill a faculty position. After a lengthy search, he and others narrowed it down to three candidates — only to learn the new president had abruptly rejected all three.


According to McKenna, it turned out that Garvey had canceled the search because none of the three finalists openly identified as Catholic. McKenna said that when he visited Garvey’s office to discuss the matter, he was lectured on “how to pre-target a desired Catholic candidate, and run a search designed to land that person.”

“This was both new and alarming,” McKenna told Religion News Service recently in an email. “The policy had always been, ‘all other things being equal, hire the Catholic.’ Clearly now we were to follow that policy with a wink. We were now to do affirmative action hiring for Catholics.”

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