O. Carter Snead, Notre Dame professor of law, has been designated the new director of the university’s Center for Ethics and Culture, the university announced on Tuesday.  Appointed by Dean John McGreevy of the College of Arts and Letters, Snead succeeds founding director and philosophy professor W. David Solomon.

Snead specializes in public bioethics, including issues such as abortion, stem cell research, neuroethics, and end-of-life issues.  A member of the law school faculty since 2005, he has served as general counsel to President George W. Bush’s Council on Bioethics and as the U.S. government’s Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics (CDBI) among other honors.  He has published widely and provided counsel to U.S. government legislators and judges, including his 2006 testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives on the regulation of the RU-486 abortion pill.

Established in 1999, the Center for Ethics and Culture supports scholarly research in the Catholic intellectual tradition and offers a wide variety of campus initiatives and resources for undergraduate students such as its annual Bread of Life dinner and Integritas seminar.  Its twelfth annual fall conference, “Radical Emancipation: Confronting the Challenge of Secularization,” will take place November 10-12.  The center’s new programs include Project Guadalupe, which seeks to further scholarship and to form pro-life leaders.

Snead described the center’s mission in an email to THE ROVER.

“The Center for Ethics and Culture is an essential, indispensible institution dedicated to the pursuit of matters that lie at the heart of Notre Dame’s distinctive educational and religious mission,” he stated.  “From its inception, the Center has aspired to be the leading locus of rigorous scholarly reflection within the Catholic intellectual and moral tradition.”

Snead emphasized the center’s role in sustaining dialogue within, and beyond, the university community.

“It [the center] has been a space for students, scholars, and public figures inside and outside of Notre Dame to explore together the richness of the Catholic tradition, including especially its unique resources for engaging concrete ethical problems in the broader culture,” he stated.  “It has been a vibrant forum for dialogue and exchange for elite and emerging scholars from a diversity of viewpoints and disciplines.  Such conversations have always been grounded in a commitment to rational discourse seeking truth.  At the most general level, my role as Director will be to sustain and build further upon these achievements.”

Snead’s appointment has garnered praise from groups like the Sycamore Trust, a group of Notre Dame alumni dedicated to the preservation of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.

In the National Catholic Register Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez summarized the controversy surrounding Solomon’s dismissal and conveyed the appointment’s importance for the pro-life cause at Notre Dame.

“When Solomon was told last year that his term would be ending at the conclusion of this academic year, supporters of the center and the Fund to Protect Human Life, which relies on the center for administrative support, were alarmed,” she wrote.  “The move has been understood as retribution for his outspoken criticism of the administration’s awarding of an honorary degree to President Barack Obama, an ardent supporter of legal abortion, in principle and administrative policy.”

Fr. Wilson D. Miscamble, CSC, professor of history and president of the Notre Dame Faculty for Life Chapter, predicted that the appointment would ensure continuity with Snead’s predecessor.

“This is a terrific appointment both for the Center for Ethics and Culture and for Notre Dame as a whole,” he said.  “Carter Snead will provide energetic and courageous leadership of the CEC and will build upon the great work that David Solomon has begun there.”

In particular, Fr. Miscamble emphasized the appointment’s importance for pro-life work at Notre Dame.

“We can now be assured of an essential continuity in the efforts of the Center and that its crucial role in aiding the pro-life efforts at Notre Dame will proceed forward and be enhanced,” he said.  “There is much work still to be done but Carter Snead’s service at the CEC will aid notably in the accomplishment of it.”

Contact Claire at cgillen2@nd.edu.