On November 8, Kevin Walsh was installed as the inaugural Knights of Columbus Endowed Professor of Law and the Catholic Tradition.

The ceremony, held in the Columbus School of Law atrium, was the second — following the Bishop Basil H. Losten Endowed Professor and Chair in Ukrainian Church Studies — endowed chair installation ceremony Catholic University has held in as many months. 

The chair position, as well as the Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Tradition, which Walsh co-directs, was made possible through combined gifts totaling $4 million. The Knights of Columbus, which have a long-standing relationship with the University, gave $1 million, while an anonymous donor gave $3 million. This later gift is overseen by Board of Trustees (BOT) Member Leonard Leo, P ’21.

“Our law school, founded in 1897 and merged with Columbus University in 1954 to become the Columbus School of Law, is the ideal home for this endowed professorship named in honor of the Knights of Columbus and dedicated to the study of law and the Catholic tradition,” said Provost Aaron Dominguez. “The Columbus School of Law has a unique place in legal education and research as part of the national university of the Catholic Church in America, and this endowed professorship will continue the University’s tradition of conversation and discovery by exploring the relationship between the Catholic intellectual tradition and constitutional history, doctrine, and other fields of study.”


During his remarks, Leo praised Walsh, calling him “one of the foremost Catholic legal scholars of our time.” 

“Your work,” Leo said, “will have a profound impact, both on and off campus. What you do here will shape our country for the better. I’m especially excited to see your association with the Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Intellectual Tradition. I’m grateful to the University for spearheading this effort.”

Patrick Kelly — supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus as well as a member of the BOT — congratulated Walsh, also a Knight of Columbus, on behalf of his “two million brother Knights.”

“This new chair underlines once more the Knights’ commitment to help this institution shape America for the better. It springs from our principle of patriotism — our love of country. But it springs even more from our love of the Church. Professor Walsh, I know you share our commitment,” Kelly said. “Ultimately, the Constitution reflects the truth that law is not an end in itself. To the contrary: the law serves man, made in the image and likeness of God. The simple fact is that Catholic teaching is essential to our experiment in self-government. But the flipside is also true. If the Catholic intellectual tradition is forgotten or driven from law and public life, then our American experiment will falter. We cannot let that happen. The work of this excellent faculty will help ensure that it doesn’t.”

Professor Kevin Walsh shaking hands with Provost Aaron Dominguez and Dean Stephen Payne

“His scholarship on the scope of federal judicial power has appeared in numerous influential law journals and reviews. We are so fortunate to have him leading our Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Tradition."
— Dean Stephen Payne

President Peter Kilpatrick was honored to accept the new endowed professorship on behalf of the University. 

“It will allow students to engage in learning from world-class experts and in a vibrant campus culture that fosters intellectual discovery and growth, rooted in and guided by our faith,” Kilpatrick said. “The Catholic University of America has a long history of seeking the truth, responding in gratitude, and transforming gratitude into service. I would like to thank you, our benefactors, for the critical role you play in supporting that mission.”

Dean Stephen Payne of the Columbus School of Law introduced Walsh, a graduate of Dartmouth College, the University of Notre Dame, and Harvard Law School. Prior to joining Catholic University, Walsh taught for 13 years at the University of Richmond School of Law. Before joining the academic world, he was an associate at Hunton & Williams in litigation, intellectual property, and antitrust cases.  He started his career by clerking for Judge Paul Niemeyer on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.  

“His scholarship on the scope of federal judicial power has appeared in numerous influential law journals and reviews. We are so fortunate to have him leading our Project on Constitutional Originalism and the Catholic Tradition,” Payne said.

Walsh said he aims to carry out the responsibilities of the chair in such a way that one worthier than himself will next fill it.

Knights of Columbus Endowed Professorship Medal

“‘Law and the Catholic Tradition’ is not, or ought not to be, the special domain of any one faculty member. All of what we study and teach about the law ought to be received and transmitted in the light of Catholic tradition,” he said. “To think otherwise runs the risk of a kind thinking that ‘Law and the Catholic Tradition’ is but a pious new mashup of an older interdisciplinary duo like ‘Law and Economics,’ or ‘Law and Literature,’ or ‘Law and Psychology.’ That would be a mistake. Catholic tradition is not an add-on, not something extra. It is the matrix within which we are to take hold of all reality, including the realities of law and justice. 

“For the study of law, this means understanding its teachings as part of a larger corpus juris,” Walsh continued, adding that working on law in the Catholic tradition contributes to larger bodies of ordinances of reason, for the common good, made by those with authority, and promulgated. He said that broader view brings into focus the essential — but limited — role of human law in implementing the natural law, which is the participation of the rational creature in the Eternal Law.

“A lot has come before. And with God’s grace, a lot more is to come after. Our job is to cooperate [...] This occasion we celebrate today is a sign of endurance, of growth over time, and a hopeful sign of things still to come.”
— Professor Kevin Walsh

The Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening was law student Eleni Moukas. The opening prayer was offered by Father Teo Brea, associate University chaplain, and the benediction to close the ceremony was given by Rev. Raymond C. O’Brien, Esq., M.Ch.A. 1975, D.Min. 1985.

Published on: Friday, December 16, 2022

Tags: Endowed Chair

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