Professor Kevin C. Walsh was installed Nov. 8 as the first Knights of Columbus Endowed Professor of Law and the Catholic Tradition, a new chair at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. The Order contributed $1 million toward an endowment to establish the chair.
Professor Walsh, a member of St. Edward’s Council 6546 in North Chesterfield, Virginia, teaches federal courts, constitutional law, torts, agency and partnership, and a seminar on law in the Catholic intellectual tradition. A graduate of Harvard Law School, the University of Notre Dame and Dartmouth College, he clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court and later taught at the University of Richmond School of Law for 13 years.
Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly, who serves on the CUA Board of Trustees, addressed university president Peter Kilpatrick, Professor Walsh and other dignitaries during the installation ceremony in Washington, D.C.
“We live in a time of profound, and even existential, challenge to our society and culture,” the supreme knight said. “In the face of this challenge, there is a pressing need to restore a right understanding of both law and liberty.”
“This new chair underlines once more the Knights’ commitment to help this institution shape America for the better,” Kelly continued. “It arises from our principle of patriotism — our love of country. But it springs even more from our love for the Church.”
Professor Walsh also delivered remarks, reflecting on the significance of the new chair. “It is not so much something special standing apart on its own as it is a reminder of an obligation held by all our faculty at this law school and this university,” he said. “All of what we study and teach about the law ought to be received and transmitted in the light of Catholic tradition.”
Walsh further underscored the essential role that our Catholic faith should play in all that we do. “Catholic tradition is not an add-on, not something extra,” he said. “It is the matrix within which we are to take hold of all reality, including the realities of law and justice.”
The Knights of Columbus has had a close relationship with The Catholic University for more than a century, beginning with an endowed chair in American history in 1904. CUA’s law school, founded in 1898, merged with Columbus University — which was established by the Knights in 1919 to serve World War I veterans — in 1954 to become the Columbus School of Law. The Order’s Bicentennial of the U.S. Hierarchy Fund aided construction of the current law school building in 1994, and today supports the chair occupied by Dean Stephen Payne. In 2008, the Knights funded the renovation of a CUA campus building, now called McGivney Hall, to serve as home to the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.