First, however, a reminder.
If you have not yet considered our recent appeal for financial support we hope you will do so now. Our ability to reach the countless alumni who share our concerns but know nothing of our work and thereby to increase our impact depends in substantial measure upon our resources. If you value what we have done to protect Notre Dame’s Catholic identity and want to help the organization grow in size and influence, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Sycamore in whatever amount you can afford.
The Departure of Trustee Marye Anne Fox.
The trustee who has left the Board is Dr. Marye Anne Fox, one of the nation’s most prominent promoters of embryonic stem cell research. Dr. Fox’s presence on the board for almost a decade has been far more at war with the University’s Catholic identity than Ms. Martino’s would have been.
Dr. Fox’s departure is something of a mystery, as you will see. But before recounting what we have been able to find out, we describe Dr. Fox’s hostility to Church teaching and how the University has nonetheless not only invited her participation in governance but also accorded her signal honors.
Dr. Fox’s Unsuitability.
We have previously called attention to Dr. Fox’s glaring unsuitability to serve on the University’s board, as has The Irish Rover.
In opposition to the California bishops, Dr. Fox was a principal proponent of California Proposition 71, which authorized public funding of embryonic stem cell research; and her university, a major beneficiary of the funding, has “taken a key role” in the ensuing research. Indeed, Dr. Fox sits on the board of directors of the consortium conducting this research,
By electing and re-electing Dr. Fox over the past eleven years, the Fellows and Board of the University have violated the injunction of the country’s bishops in their Application of Ex Corde Eccelesiae to the United States:
Each member of the board must be committed to the practical implications of the university’s Catholic identity as set forth in its mission statement or equivalent document.
Nor is this by any means all.
In a 2008 warm-up for its celebration of President Obama in 2009, the University honored Dr. Fox by awarding her an honorary degree and naming her commencement speaker for the Graduate School. While, in contrast to the Obama calamity, this episode passed largely unnoted, it was just as plain a violation of the American bishops’ injunction against “honor[ing] those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
Nor could the University plead a “tradition” of honoring past Presidents or the value of “engaging” with a President or the prestige associated with a Presidential visitation. Accordingly, when we inquired of the University why the board membership and the honoring of Dr. Fox did not collide with the school’s claim of Catholic identity, it was unsurprising to receive this reply:[W]e will not be responding.
Dr. Fox’s departure.
We discovered Dr. Fox’s departure from the board by accident. The University did not mention it in its announcement of changes in Board membership at its last meeting, nor was it reported in any other source so far as we can tell. Moreover, Dr. Fox was listed as a trustee on the University website as well as on Bloomberg BusinessWeek as late as June 27th, the date we asked the University when Dr. Fox would be up for re-election.
To our considerable surprise, the University responded:
Dr. Fox no longer is a member of the board. Beyond that, we’ll have nothing to add.
Notwithstanding this declaration, the University spokesman was good enough to answer our further question as to why Dr. Fox had been shown as a board member until the time of our inquiry, when it was removed. He explained:
We generally update various lists once a year, in mid-August.
On this timetable, the resignation of Roxanne Martino under pressure in June could not have been a factor in Dr. Fox’s departure. Nor, evidently, did Dr. Fox simply want to shed board obligations, since she almost immediately joined the board of Dartmouth.
One is left to speculation, which is certainly fueled by the silence of the University upon Dr. Fox’s departure – no expression of regret nor appreciation for her service – and its subsequent declaration that it would “have nothing to add” to its explanation that she was not re-elected.
Whatever the reason, Dr. Fox’s departure is good news. And while it seems highly unlikely that the University would have discouraged Dr. Fox from standing for re-election, it is perhaps possible that the University’s post-Obama damage control efforts and the continued efforts of pro-life faculty have resulted in an atmosphere uncomfortable for an embryonic stem cell research champion.
It is perhaps suggestive that, in describing her consortium’s research, Dr. Fox declared that “the first thing” is that “we don’t shy away from controversy” and that “virtually any top rate research university” conducts research “into all questions that are of importance to society today.” On her view, Notre Dame would evidently not qualify. Dartmouth does. A thoroughly good thing.
In our next bulletin, we will examine the University’s policy and actions relating to embryonic stem cell research, which have been both lamentable and praiseworthy.
Farewell and Welcome.
Two of our founding and most valued board members, Dr. Dan Boland and Dr. Jack Gueguen, have retired from the board after six years of dedicated service. They leave with our deep appreciation and prayerful best wishes. Their successors are Dr. Daniel Mcinerny (A.B. ND ’86, PhD ’94 Catholic University), former Associate Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics & Culture and Chair of the Philosophy Department of St. Thomas University (Houston), and Dr. Robert Schmiege (A.B. ND ’63, J.D. ND ’66), former Chairman, President, and CEO of the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad. Biographical notes on Dan and Bob on our website.