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Legal Scholar and Theologian Kaveny Is New Libby Prof.

01/30/14
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Cathleen Kaveny (Photo by Lee Pellegrini)

By Kathleen Sullivan | Chronicle Staff

Published: Jan. 30, 2014

Cathleen Kaveny, a legal scholar, moral theologian and nationally noted expert on the intersections of law, morality and religion, has joined Boston College as the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor. With an appointment in the Law School and Theology Department in the College of Arts and Sciences, Kaveny is the first person to hold a faculty appointment in two schools at the University.

The author of the award-winning book Law’s Virtues: Fostering Autonomy and Solidarity in American Society and a columnist for Commonweal magazine, Kaveny has written for America and authored approximately 100 journal articles and book chapters. She has also been interviewed by various media outlets, including the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, National Catholic Reporter, and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” among others. She is currently at work on her next book, tentatively titled Prophesy without Contempt: An Ethics of Religious Discourse in the Public Square.

“I am delighted and honored to be joining Boston College’s distinguished faculty. I am also very excited about the possibilities for interdisciplinary collaboration in this academically rich and diverse community,” said Kaveny, who teaches a graduate theology course on Faith, Morality and Law this semester. In the fall, she will teach contracts at the Law School and a seminar cross-listed with the Theology Department.

Kaveny said she plans to connect with Boston-based stakeholders on issues such as health care ethics and the law and as president of the Society of Christian Ethics will focus on the law and Christian ethics.

Prior to her arrival at Boston College, Kaveny was the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, where she had been on the faculty since 1995. She also held visiting professorships and fellowships at Yale University, Princeton University, University of Chicago and Georgetown University. Previously, Kaveny was an associate with in the Health Law Group at the law firm Ropes & Gray in Boston and clerked for Judge John T. Noonan Jr. in the US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Kaveny graduated with a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Princeton University and earned a JD and PhD from Yale University. She is the incoming president of the Society of Christian Ethics, the major scholarly organization of Christian ethicists in North America. The society meets annually in conjunction with Jewish and Muslim ethicist groups.

“Bringing Cathleen Kaveny to Boston College is a spectacular move for the entire University community and in particular, the Law School and the Theology Department,” said Founders Professor of Theology James Keenan, SJ, acting chairman of the Theology Department. “She brings the rare combined competency of vigorously mastering law and ethics and teaches and writes with wit and brilliance. It is simply great to have her here.”

Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau said, “Professor Kaveny’s appointment places Boston College at the forefront of scholarship in both law and theology, with her most recent work offering critical insights on how American law engages highly contested moral debates in an increasingly diverse society.

“She will provide an exciting link between the Law School and the College of Arts and Sciences by offering cross-listed courses that explore the intersection of key legal and theological concepts such as justice, mercy, and complicity with evil. We are thrilled to have her join us.”

The Libby Chair was established through a gift by the late Darald Libby JD ’55, and his wife Juliet. The chair honors the couple’s friend and mentor Rev. Michael G. Pierce, SJ, of the Jesuit Mission Bureau in Boston, who died in 1998. The inaugural holder of the Libby Chair was family law expert and longtime Law School faculty member Sanford Katz, now Libby Professor Emeritus.