Paul F. Lakeland, Ph.D. named to Chair in Catholic Studies

Paul F. Lakeland, Ph.D., chair of the Department in Religious Studies, has been selected to hold the new Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J. Chair in Catholic Studies. The establishment of the chair was announced on May 16 at a ceremony honoring Father Kelley who is retiring after serving as president of Fairfield University for 25 years.

In making the announcement, Academic Vice President Orin L. Grossman said Dr. Lakeland possessed "all the qualities required for the holder of this important Chair in Catholic Studies. He is a person with a sound academic reputation, a senior professor who is respected within the faculty and within the discipline, and a person who is engaged with and understands the Catholic, Jesuit nature of the institution and more broadly, a Catholic intellectual tradition."

Dr. Grossman said he worked with Father James Bowler, S.J., the facilitator for Jesuit Mission and Identity, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Timothy Law Snyder in selecting Dr. Lakeland.

The Chair will have three responsibilities:

  • To shepherd the establishment of an academic minor in Catholic studies.
  • To examine issues of the Catholic intellectual tradition both for the University community and the community at large by organizing public programs.
  • To guide academic aspects of Jesuit Mission and Identity, working with the Facilitator to develop appropriate programs for the Fairfield community.

In determining the first holder of the Chair, the university sought a teacher and scholar with a national reputation, a description aptly applied to Dr. Lakeland. An expert on the laity, the papacy, postmodernism and church and politics, Dr. Lakeland is quoted in national and international media, including the New York Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Morning News, The Economist, Liberation (France), Catholic New Times (Canada) Commonweal, National Catholic Reporter, and CNBC, among others.

The author of several books, Dr. Lakeland was awarded the first place 2004 Catholic Press Award last month, in the category of theology, for his ground-breaking book, "The Liberation of the Laity: In Search of an Accountable Church." Published by Continuum International, New York, N.Y., and recently released in paperback, the book examines the idea of the laity throughout church history, looks at recent efforts to give them a more prominent place in church life, and suggests ways that a more empowered laity could strengthen the church in its current crisis.

Dr. Lakeland is in demand as a public speaker as well, and gave the keynote address in February at the Boston College Conference "Towards an Ecclesial Professional Ethic." He also was the keynote speaker for the annual meeting of Jesuit Vice Presidents of Mission and Identity in Spokane, Wash., last November.

At Fairfield, Dr. Lakeland has presented the philosophical paradigm for the Mission and Identity Days for the last two years and was the chief respondent in Fairfield's collective work with the New England Jesuit Universities, exploring the role of the Jesuit University in the world and in service to the church.

Dr. Lakeland played a key role in developing the present University honors program and chaired the recent efforts to bring new direction and definition to the University core curriculum. He was Fairfield's representative on the Rhodes Consultation, funded by the Lilly Endowment, that explored questions of mission and identity with faculty prior to Fr. Bowler's arrival. Dr. Lakeland was also the Fairfield University nominee for a Carnegie Scholar with a research project designed to introduce the value of Ignatian pedagogy in the 21st Century. He is a nationally known scholar in theological circles and has made major contributions to the field.

Other books by Dr. Lakeland include Postmodernity: Christian Identity in a Fragmented Age (1997); Theology and Critical Theory: The Discourse of the Church (1990); Free in Christ: The Challenge of Political Theology (1984); The Politics of Salvation: The Hegelian Idea of the State (1984); and Can Women Be Priests? (1975). He is at work on a new book, "Being Adult, Being Catholic: The Lay Vocation in Today's Church."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on June 28, 2004

Vol. 21, No. 8

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