WASHINGTON — The Catholic University of America’s board of trustees has selected Peter K. Kilpatrick as the 16th president of the university, effective July 1.
His appointment was announced March 29.
He succeeds John Garvey, who has served as president for 12 years.
“We could not have asked for a better candidate to lead Catholic University. Peter Kilpatrick is both a distinguished researcher and a creative administrator who sees research at the service of the human person in keeping with his Catholic faith,” Victor P. Smith, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, said in a statement.
Smith chaired the search committee to find a successor to Garvey, who announced last September that he would step down from the role he described as “an honor and a privilege” at the end of June.
Since 2018, Kilpatrick has been provost and vice president for academic affairs for the Illinois Institute of Technology, a private research university in Chicago.
“Serving as president of The Catholic University of America is a dream job for me, bringing together faith and reason in service to the human person and human dignity,” he said in a statement.
“I look forward to working with the faculty and community to continue moving Catholic University forward as a top tier research institution that also embraces its excellence in theology and the arts,” he added.
According to a news release about his appointment, “combining research and faith is important to Kilpatrick,” who became Catholic as an adult.
Kilpatrick is a scholar and an experienced higher education leader and administrator. He has published more than 100 refereed academic articles, and delivered more than 150 lectures.
He holds or shares 12 patents in chemical engineering. He began his career at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In 2008, the University of Notre Dame recruited him to be dean of engineering. He was at the Catholic university in South Bend, Indiana, until he took his current job at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
“I would like to warmly congratulate Dr. Peter Kilpatrick on his appointment as the 16th president of The Catholic University of America,” said Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, who as Washington’s archbishop is chancellor of Catholic University.
“His wealth of experience, pursuit of academic excellence and commitment to the Catholic identity of the university,” the cardinal said, “make him well qualified to guide the university into its next era.”
Kilpatrick received his undergraduate degree from Occidental College in Los Angeles and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota.
He spent 24 years at North Carolina State, first as an assistant professor, then moved up to become department head of chemical and bio molecular engineering and then was founding director of the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center.
From 2008 to 2018, he was the Matthew H. McCloskey dean of engineering at the University of Notre Dame. During that time, the number of faculty rose by more than 70%; the enrollment in doctoral programs rose by 50%; and undergraduate enrollment rose by 60%, according to a news release on his new appointment.
In addition, Notre Dame’s “faculty research expenditures increased by more than 150% and endowments by $100 million,” it said.
Kilpatrick co-developed a cross-program master’s in engineering, science and technology entrepreneurship and launched Notre Dame’s first joint doctoral program with the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Notre Dame now has nine joint doctoral programs with three universities, the others located in Hungary and Brazil.
At Illinois Tech, he developed the university’s five-year strategic plan, put in place new leadership, and drove development of an online master of applied science that diversified programs and increased revenue.
“Collaboration is a hallmark of his approach,” the release said of Kilpatrick.
“(He) took steps to focus on student experience by bringing together several student-focused functions, including enrollment, student affairs, academic affairs, housing and campus life,” it said. “He also worked to bring together different program areas through themes such as technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation and design.”
He came to his Catholic faith through his wife, Nancy. During marriage preparation, Kilpatrick agreed to raise their children Catholic.
When their first child was born, he fulfilled that commitment but also became Catholic himself, “with his commitment to the dignity and priority of the person at the heart of his life and work,” the news release said.
He and Nancy have four adult children and three grandchildren.