A History of Georgetown University

The Rise to Prominence, 1964-1989

Robert Emmett Curran
Foreword by John J. DeGioia

"Everyone who loves the Hilltop, and many of their friends too, will want to have a copy of this splendid history—exhaustively researched, comprehensive in its viewpoint, and vivid in its telling. It is a story both of the university and of the nation with which it was founded."
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The discovery and imparting of knowledge are the essential undertakings of any university. Such purposes determined John Carroll, SJ's modest and surprisingly ecumenical proposal to establish an academy on the banks of the Potomac for the education of the young in the early republic. What began earnestly in 1789 still continues today: the idea of Georgetown University as a Catholic university situated squarely in the American experience.

Beautifully designed with over 300 illustrations and photographs, A History of Georgetown University tells the remarkable story of the administrators, boards, faculty, students, and programs that have made Georgetown a leading institution of higher education. With a keen eye for detail, historian Robert Emmett Curran—a member of the Georgetown community for over three decades—explores the broader perspective of Georgetown's sense of identity and its place in American culture.

Volume One traces Georgetown’s evolution during its first century, from its beginnings as an academy within the American Catholic community of the Revolutionary War era through its flowering as a college before the Civil War to its postbellum achievements as a university. Volume Two highlights the efforts of administrators and faculty over the next seventy-five years to make Georgetown an ascending and increasingly diverse institution with a range of graduate programs and professional schools. Volume Three examines Georgetown’s remarkable rise to prominence as an internationally recognized research university—both culturally engaged and cosmopolitan while remaining grounded in its Catholic and Jesuit character.

Each volume features numerous illustrations, photographs, and appendices that include student demographics, enrollments, and lists of board members.

Table of Contents

Foreword by John J. DeGioia


Part One: The Academy in the 1960s

1. Into the Groves of Modernity

2. A Time of Crisis and Challenge: Georgetown in the 1960s (1965-75) I

3. The University in an Unraveling World: Georgetown in the 1960s (1965-75) II

Part Two: Into the Center Front of American Higher Education

4. The Second Healy: Georgetown and the Prestigious Circle, 1976-89

5. End of a Second Century: Not with a Whimper, 1976-89


A. Student Enrollments, 1963-90
B. Presidents of the University, 1952-2010
C. Deans of the College of Arts and Sciences, 1957-2010
D. Deans of the Graduate School, 1960-2010
E. Deans of the Medical School, 1963-2010
F. Deans of the Law School/Executive Vice Presidents for Law Center Affairs, 1955-2010
G. Deans of the Dental School, 1950-90
H. Deans of the School of Nursing and Health Studies, 1963-2010
I. Deans of the School of Foreign Service, 1962-2010
J. Deans of the School of Languages and Linguistics, 1962-2010
K. Director/Deans of the School of Business Administration, 1960-2010
L. Deans of the School of Summer and Continuing Education (School of Continuing Education), 1963-2010
M. Academic Vice Presidents/Executive Vice Presidents for the Main Campus, 1955-2010
N. Executive Vice Presidents for Medical Center Affairs/Executive Vice Presidents for the Health Sciences, 1963-2010
O. Regents of the Law, Foreign Service, Language and Linguistics, and Business Schools, 1961-68
P. Georgetown University Buildings by Construction Date, 1964-2007

Selected Bibliography



"Georgetown enriched my life in so many ways, and the habits of mind and friendships I found there continue to enrich it today. I loved it when I was there, I love it still, and I am honored to be part of a family that gave me so much. This beautifully told history by Professor Curran captures the unique spirit of a remarkable institution that has contributed greatly to our common good."—William Jefferson Clinton, Forty-second President of the United States

"Everyone who loves the Hilltop, and many of their friends too, will want to have a copy of this splendid history—exhaustively researched, comprehensive in its viewpoint, and vivid in its telling. It is a story both of the university and of the nation with which it was founded."—Leo J. O'Donovan, SJ, president emeritus, Georgetown University

"This modern history of Georgetown University is good news—and good reading—on several counts. It tells the 20th century story of Georgetown inside and out. It fills in gaps about Catholic higher education. Above all, it confirms Georgetown University's significance within the total landscape of contemporary American higher education."—John Thelin, university research professor, University of Kentucky, and author of A History of American Higher Education

"In these meticulously researched and long-awaited volumes, Emmett Curran provides a rich, complex history of the first 200 years of America’s oldest Catholic, Jesuit university, tracing the struggles of John Carroll’s 'modest academy' in the new nation to the emergence of Georgetown as an international leader in higher education. Throughout, Curran demonstrates the university’s remarkable fidelity to its mission of educating leaders who serve. It is fine history and a good read."—Dorothy M. Brown, professor of history emerita, Georgetown University


Supplemental Materials


Winner of the 2011 Best in Show of the Washington Book Publishers Book and Design Effectiveness Awards

About the Author

Robert Emmett Curran is a professor emeritus of history at Georgetown University, where he served as a faculty member for 32 years. He currently resides, with his wife Eileen, in Richmond, Kentucky.

384 pp., 8 x 10
75 color illustrations
ISBN: 978-1-58901-690-3


384 pp., 8 x 10
75 color illustrations


384 pp.
75 color illustrations


Volume 3

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