St Xavier University Names New President: Christine Wiseman, J.D. Loyola University Provost

Revised: May 18, 2010

When Provost Wiseman came for her interview, I was struck by the following. Her commitment to social justice and emphasising her ethical positions. She spoke about her efforts to represent pro bono death row inmates and how it felt to lose a client to the barbarity of state-sponsored executions. I was moved as she described the surreal experience of visiting a client on death row at the weekend and then returning to her constitutional law class on a Monday. Chris Wiseman was emotional and addressed her “failure” to save her clients’ lives.

I spoke to that point and said, “It’s society that executes and makes the decision to kill people in this manner. You are part of the solution to stop capital punishment and should construe yourself not as a failure but as an advocate for change and social justice.” I was stupefied, frankly, at this candor on the part of Wiseman and her decision to display her values and ethics as the gateway into her character and capacity to lead.

I had never witnessed a presidential candidate eschew so emphatically the patois of administrationese and address issues of social concern so directly and forthrightly in an open forum with faculty. I felt then and I believe now that Chris brings a value system and an ethical commitment that augurs well for the future growth of the university as both an “institution” and a university that matters as it affects progressive change and critical thinking. For too long some Catholic institutions of higher learning have not been catholic enough: perhaps “our time has come.”

She became president on May 1, 2010. Doctor Angela Durante, provost, served as interim president from December 1, 2009–my birthday! She follows Doctor Judith A. Dwyer, a strong advocate for academic freedom and shared governance. I am confident and hopeful that President Wiseman will continue that tradition as we search for the truth within a broader societal context that is not always receptive to such inquiry.

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