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John Garvey stepping down as Catholic University president

John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America, has announced that he will step down from his position at the end of June.

John Garvey. Credit: The Catholic University of America


The 72-year-old president has been head of the Washington, D.C., university since 2010. He was the university’s third lay president.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of this University,” Garvey said in a letter to the community.

“I became President of The Catholic University of America in 2010 hoping I could contribute something to building up the institution. I did not foresee how much I would fall in love with it.”

Garvey, who holds a degree from Harvard Law School, worked in both law and academia before his appointment to Catholic University. He has argued several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and has written several books on constitutional law.

As head of Catholic University, he has been vocal on the subject of religious freedom and Catholicism in the public square. He has emphasized the university's Catholic identity as its defining characteristic.

Under Garvey’s leadership, student retention at the school increased by nine percentage points, to 88%. The university raised more than $500 million during his presidency, including $112 million in research grants awarded over the past year, according to a press release from the university.

Garvey has overseen renovations and expansions to the campus, including new athletic facilities and improved dormitories and student life buildings. The university has unveiled a new adult education program in Alexandria, Va., and a Tucson program to offer business management degrees in a largely Hispanic area.

In his message to the community, Garvey spoke admiringly of Catholic U’s students and said he believes the university is “the best place in the world for a young person to attend college.”

He added that he is grateful to have led the university through the past two years of the Covid pandemic “because it gave me the chance to see close up what makes the school so special.”

“We have overcome the medical and financial challenges it presented through the intelligence, hard work, and charity of our people,” he said.

The university said a presidential search has been initiated, with chairman Victor Smith heading the search committee. 

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