Ferree Professor in Social Justice
Marianist Provincial Father William Ferree was recognized as a key spokesperson on the Catholic theory of social justice. In his honor, the Cincinnati Province of the Society of Mary has pledged $1 million to endow the Ferree Professor in the Center for Leadership in Community. The Ferree Professor connects Catholic social teaching and the social sciences through the community-building mission of the Fitz Center. Brother Raymond L. Fitz is the first Ferree Professor.
About Father William J. Ferree, S.M.
Father William J. Ferree, S.M. was born in 1905 in Dayton, Ohio. He professed first vows in 1925, graduated from the University of Dayton and pursued graduate studies at the Catholic University in Washington, DC where he received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1942 with his dissertation "On the Act of Social Justice." He was the director of the Marianist Scholasticate at Mt. St. John in 1947, where he was a strong presence in the classroom and beyond.
A basic theme of Father Ferree's life work is described as the act of social justice - that we have a moral responsibility to continually reorganize society for the common good. His theory states that society has only recently understood this concept of social responsibility - as opposed to individual responsibility - and, now knowing this, we all have a responsibility to work toward solving the disparities and social injustices that exist in the world.
About the Current Chair
Presently Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., Ph.D. holds the position of the Ferree Professor of Social Justice at the University of Dayton and is the Executive Director of the Association of Marianist Universities. He is also the Past President of the University of Dayton. He is a senior faculty member in the Center for Leadership in Community and works with faculty at the University of Dayton to integrate the Catholic social tradition across the curriculum. Since becoming the Ferree Professor of Social Justice he has taught courses in Leadership in Building Community; Regional Development, Politics, and Social Justice; Christianity, Citizenship, and Society; and the Leadership Experience.
Brother Fitz remains very involved in the greater Dayton community. Some of the organizations he works with include the Dayton Public School Community Advisory Council, the Family and Children First Council, the Homeless Solutions Leadership Team, and the National Conference of Community and Justice. He also works with the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on the reconfiguration of Catholic parishes and schools in the greater Dayton area.
Brother Fitz is a member of the Marianist Province of the United States. He professed first vows in Marcy, New York in 1960. He received a Bachelor of Science with honors in Electric Engineering from the University of Dayton and completed his MS and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, New York.
Brother Fitz taught courses in the School of Engineering at UD for ten years and consulted on management and planning issues with Catholic Relief Services, the US Office of Environmental Education, the Kettering Foundation and several liberal arts colleges.
He became President of the University of Dayton in 1979. During his presidency the University experienced remarkable growth. The University of Dayton became one of the top research universities in the state of Ohio and a leader among Catholic universities. The University's technological infrastructure earned the school recognition as one of the most-wired campuses in the country.
Brother Fitz stepped down as president of the University of Dayton in June 2002 after 23 years. He is the longest-serving president to lead this institution.
Programs of the Ferree Professor of Social Justice
As Ferree Professor of Social Justice, Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., Ph.D. works with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and other academic and faculty leaders to integrate the Catholic approach to social justice into the curriculum and research programs of the College and the University. Programs of this office call on the legacy of Father Ferree to address challenges facing today's society. Ongoing projects and programs of the Ferree Professor include:
- To teach courses in the social sciences, especially in the area of leadership and community, utilizing Catholic social teaching as a major resource for the curriculum.
- To be a faculty resource for the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community and to help integrate Catholic social teaching and the Catholic approach to social justice into the teaching, research, and service of the Center.
- To pursue partnerships with other Catholic universities and Catholic communities of discourse and service utilizing Catholic social teaching to address important social issues.
- To present the Ferree Lecture on Social Justice. In March, 2004 Brother Fitz presented the first Ferree Lecture to a diverse audience comprised of members of the campus community, as well as leaders from Dayton and surrounding communities. This lecture, entitled "Retrieving and Extending Fr. Ferree's Heritage of Social Justice" explored Fr. William J. Ferree's approach to the promotion of the common good. Brother Fitz related this approach to current urban and regional issues.