Garvey, dean of the Boston College Law School since 1999, will replace David M. O'Connell as president of Catholic, the national university of the Roman Catholic Church. O'Connell announced his departure in the fall and was tapped this month as bishop-elect of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J.
The transition marks a significant shift for Catholic, which has spent the past dozen years rediscovering its spiritual identity under the guidance of an energetic cleric. Leadership now passes to a lay administrator, who spent a semester at Harvard Divinity School before moving to Harvard Law, where he graduated in 1974.
[Board of Trustees Chair Rev. Allen H.] Vigneron said the university board expects Garvey to continue O'Connell's work to reclaim a Catholic identity for the Northeast Washington campus. O'Connell raised the share of students and faculty who self-identified as Catholics and hosted Pope Benedict XVI in a 2008 visit. He said trustees also appreciated the legal mind Garvey has brought to bear in analyzing Catholic quandaries.