Dr. Michael Higgins Named Vice President for Mission and Catholic Identity

News Story: June 1, 2010
Dr. Michael W. Higgins

Dr. Michael W. Higgins has been named the vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity by Sacred Heart University. The distinguished Canadian educator, writer and journalist has been with Sacred Heart since January as a visiting senior executive in residence assisting the University in a variety of roles and teaching. His appointment, which was announced by University President Anthony J. Cernera, is effective July 1.

The vice president for Mission and Catholic Identity will lead initiatives that preserve, promote and integrate Catholic mission, vision and values throughout the University. In this role, Dr. Higgins will direct such Sacred Heart University programs at the Spidlik Center for Ecumenical Understanding and the new and developing Institute for Vatican II Studies.

Dr. Higgins came to the University from Fredericton, New Brunswick, where he was president and vice chancellor of St. Thomas University and also a professor of English and Religious Studies. From 1999 to 2006, he was president and vice chancellor of St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and he has held numerous appointments at other Canadian colleges and universities.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from St. Francis Xavier University, magna cum laude, and his master’s in English from York University, where he later received his Ph.D. in English. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Toronto.

Professor Higgins has been a columnist, a radio documentary maker, a television commentator on Vatican affairs, and a regular contributor to Commonweal magazine. He was, as well, the chief advisor for the widely acclaimed TV series, Sir Peter Ustinov’s Inside the Vatican. The recipient of many awards and honors, he was presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Sacred Heart University in 2008. His next major project will be the biography of the late Father Henri J.M. Nouwen, the only biographical account of Father Nouwen’s life and works to be authorized by the Henri Nouwen Legacy Trust.

Dr. Higgins’ appointment confirms Sacred Heart’s commitment to becoming one of the premier Catholic learning centers in the United States, according to Dr. Cernera. “We welcome Dr. Higgins to our community with pride and great pleasure. He has a wealth of experience, deep scholarship and an extraordinary knowledge of, and dedication to, the Catholic intellectual tradition. The former chairman of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of Canada, he brings world-class experience to this position as well as a warm and engaging personal manner.”  
His numerous books and articles include Heretic Blood: The Spiritual Geography of Thomas Merton; The Muted Voice: Religion and the Media; and Stalking the Holy: The Pursuit of Saint-Making.