Father James L. Heft, Leader in Catholic Higher Education, to Offer Public Lecture at Seton Hill Feb. 23
Father James L. Heft, S.M., a leader for over 30 years in Catholic Higher Education, will serve as a visiting faculty member in residence and guest lecturer at Seton Hill University in February.
Seton Hill will host a public lecture with Heft on the topic, “Why are young people leaving the Church? What can be done about it?” on Thursday, February 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Cecilian Hall on the second floor of the university’s Administration Building.
Heft’s visit to Seton Hill is part of the university’s Setonian Mission Formation Program, which aims to help the university to maintain and strengthen its Catholic, Setonian tradition for current and future students, faculty and staff. The Program began last year thanks to a six-figure leadership commitment from anonymous benefactors and is allowing Seton Hill to expand Mission-focused activities that will build a foundation of leaders who will preserve the heritage and the charism of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill; continue to foster Catholic intellectual life across campus; and help students explore the liberal arts in a distinctive and enriching Catholic framework.
During his time as a visiting faculty member from February 20 to 24, Heft will speak to various classes on campus as well as meet with faculty, staff, administration and members of the Board of Trustees to discuss the future of Catholic higher education. On Ash Wednesday, Father Heft will join to concelebrate Mass with Greensburg Bishop Larry J. Kulick as principal celebrant and Msgr. Roger Statnick, Seton Hill Chaplain, as concelebrant.
Father Heft (Marianist) is a priest in the Society of Mary and leader for over 30 years in Catholic higher education. He spent many years at the University of Dayton, serving as chair of the Theology Department for six years, Provost of the University for eight years, and then Chancellor for 10 years. He left the University of Dayton in 2006 to found the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where he now serves as the Alton Brooks Professor of Religion and the Founder and President Emeritus of the Institute.
He has written and edited fourteen books and published over 200 articles and book chapters. Oxford University press listed his book, Catholic High Schools: Facing the New Realities (Oxford, 2011) as a “best seller.” He edited Learned Ignorance: Intellectual Humility Among Jews, Christians and Muslims (Oxford, 2011); and Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue (Oxford 2011). He co-edited with the University of Dayton's professor of history, Una Cadegan, In the Logos of Love: Promise and Predicament in Catholic Intellectual Life (Oxford, 2016), and co-edited with social psychologist Jan Stets, Empty Churches: Non-Affiliation in America (Oxford, 2021). His most recent book, The Future of Catholic Higher Education: The Open Circle, was also published by Oxford in 2021.
In 2011, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities awarded him the Theodore M. Hesburgh award for his long and distinguished service to Catholic higher education. He has received five honorary doctorates, most recently from the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.
Fr. Heft teaches two courses each fall at USC. This past fall, he taught a course on the history of Catholic immigrants coming to the U.S., and led a senior seminar for majors in International Relations on "Religions and Violence.”