Devyn Forcina ‘22
Ethan Bachand ‘22
Chief News Editor
On Feb. 10, the College of the Holy Cross announced that Vincent D. Rougeau will be the College’s next president. The 33rd person to assume the position, Mr. Rougeau will be the first lay and Black person to serve as the president at Holy Cross.
The official announcement came in the form of an email, detailing the long awaited decision by the Presidential Search Committee. After the months-long process, the email conveyed a strong sense of confidence in the final decision. As stated by Tom Joyce, the chair of the committee, “Both his scholarship and his leadership demonstrate his profound dedication to our Jesuit, Catholic mission, to building a diverse and respectful community, and to educating students toward seeking justice and making a meaningful difference in our world.”
Mr. Rougeau was formally introduced to the Holy Cross community in a webinar on February 11, 2021, at 7:00 pm EST. He was welcomed by Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Marisa Gregg, and by Chair of the Board of Trustees, Rick Patterson ‘80. The current president of the college, Father Boroughs S.J., also spoke and offered words of praise and encouragement for the new president.
Before introductions began, Rick Patterson explained the process which resulted in Rougeau’s election. The board members held many listening sessions, during which they gained the “collective wisdom of the community that participated.” Consequently, 125 names were chosen, which was narrowed down to 24. Eventually, the committee formed a final list of 7 candidates. Patterson noted that the candidates were diverse in their races, genders, and religious identities. Overall, Rougeau’s election was unanimous.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the reception, more honored by it, or more humbled by it,” Rougeau said in the webinar. He then shared his history, such as his childhood in the Washington DC area, his undergraduate career at Brown University, his family, and his career as a lawyer and as an educator of law.
Mr. Rougeau has extensive career experience at the collegiate level. After serving as a professor at Notre Dame Law School, he became Dean of Boston College Law School. On top of his career in higher education, Mr. Rougeau has been both the director of Boston College’s Forum on Racial Justice and a senior fellow at the Centre for Theology and community. He also has been elected president of the Association of American Law Schools.
When asked why he chose Holy Cross, Rougeau explained that “it brought together everything that’s important to me for higher education.” He mentioned that in his personal experience, liberal arts educations make for the strongest law students. Furthermore, the mission of Catholic higher education was compelling to him.
Despite not being a member of the Society of Jesus, Mr. Rougeau talked about his strong spiritual connection. Rougeau shared that his own faith tradition is rooted in the Catholic tradition of Louisiana, calling it “the wellspring of my faith.” Beyond his personal practice, religion also informs his scholarship, his book Christians in the American Empire being an example.
In regard to the College’s location, Rougeau looks forward to joining the community of college presidents in Worcester, where he sees “innovation and engagement.” He noted the “interesting and creative possibilities already in motion” in Worcester, and admires that the city has “its own identity and sense of history.”
Ultimately, the webinar concluded with Rougeau’s hopes for Holy Cross’s future, particularly “at this moment in history, a crossroads.” With only a few months before he moves into his new office in Fenwick Hall, Holy Cross students and faculty alike are likely to hear more from Mr. Rougeau soon.