Big news from conservative academia: political scientist Patrick Deneen is leaving Georgetown for Notre Dame. He writes at Front Porch Republic:
There are two main reasons for my decision. The first reason broadly concerns the sense of my place at Georgetown. 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. The contrast between its reception by a large number of students, on the one hand, and my colleagues has been striking, revealing, and often disappointing. In spite of its extraordinary programming and national reputation built over the past six years, it has never been embraced or supported by the university. Its events – greeted with enthusiasm and robust attendance by students – have rarely been attended by colleagues, whether faculty or administration. Indeed, its presence and achievements have never been privately nor publicly acknowledged by the university’s leadership. This would not have been a bad situation in its own right, as I did not seek nor expect the support of the University’s leadership. However, over the years, it has been increasingly evident to me that I have exceedingly few allies and friends elsewhere on the faculty to join me in this work, and dim prospects that the trajectory of faculty hiring will change. I have felt isolated from the heart of the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion. Over time, I discovered that I was lonely at Georgetown.
Notre Dame has recruited me explicitly because they regard me as someone who can be a significant contributor to its mission and identity, particularly the Catholic identity of the institution. While the administration and faculty at Notre Dame was strongly enthusiastic about the prospect of my joining their ranks, the response of the Georgetown administration toward retaining me was lukewarm. It has been a hard and disappointing conclusion to acknowledge that my work at Georgetown was more appreciated and supported by the leadership and a broader swath of faculty in the Notre Dame community than by that of Georgetown.
As a friend of Patrick’s, this news doesn’t come exactly as a shock, but it ought to be shocking to the world of Catholic higher education. Georgetown just lost one of its brightest young academic stars because it wasn’t Catholic enough. He’s going to Notre Dame because it’s a Catholic university where it’s okay to be authentically Catholic. Good for him.
The second reason for Patrick’s departure is very Front Porch Republic. Read his post there to discover what it is.