A Jewish American academic has been named the first Jewish president of a Roman Catholic university in the world
Gregory S Weiner, an associate professor of politics at Assumption University, was elected its 17th president on Monday by the college’s board of trustees.
Professor Weiner has served as the Massachusetts-based university’s interim president since April 2021.
He told the Jerusalem Post that in his childhood “in a small town in Texas, we were the only Jewish family in town,” and that being the sole Jewish person in one’s environment “can give you more appreciation for your religion and other religions.”
Professor Weiner is currently an active member of a Conservative synagogue and was raised Orthodox.
The private university was founded in 1904 by Augustinians of the Assumption, and says it “draws upon the best in the rich and centuries-long tradition of Catholic higher education.”
The former aide to several US senators kickstarted his career at Assumption back in 2011, eventually taking on the respective roles of provost and vice president of academic affairs in 2019.
In his time at Assumption he has contributed to a range of news outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post and National Review as well as authoring several books on US political philosophy and founding a speech-writing company.
Weiner said in a statement that he is “grateful to Assumption University’s Board of Trustees and to the members of the presidential search committee for the extraordinary opportunity to lead this University.
The university told Cision PR Newswire that Professor Weiner is “honoured to help lead Assumption toward new possibilities that embrace our Catholic educational mission and welcome all, no matter who they may be, who seek to pursue the truth in the company of friends,” he continued.
He said he has “tremendous respect for Catholic liberal education; it speaks to questions of the heart.
“From the perspective of anthropology, the person is created in the image of God, which is also very Jewish,” Professor Weiner explained.
Historically Jews, and other non-Catholics, were not permitted to enroll in Roman Catholic institutions but this is no longer the case.
“We welcome anyone who is interested in pursuing the truth in the company of friends,” said Professor Weiner.
The Very Reverend Dennis M. Gallagher, who vice chairs of the college’s trustee board, stressed that the new President “demonstrated a strong commitment to the University’s Catholic educational mission since first setting foot on the Assumption campus”.
He also described Professor Weiner as “a man of deep faith, compassion and character, who brings great energy, innovative ideas, and humble leadership to everything he undertakes”.