College of Fellows

The College of Fellows: Helping DSPT and the Church Engage Contemporary Culture

To preach effectively in our culture, we must be conversant not only with the traditional disciplines of philosophy and theology but also with contemporary issues in secular society. 

 DSPT College of Fellows
College of Fellows Events 
Members of the College 

The issues that we must engage – whether ideas or realities – are found in a variety of disciplines of human endeavor. Conversation and discernment in relation to various disciplines (such as politics, government, law, economics, business, the sciences, bio-medical research, technology, media, and the arts) is therefore vital. To address this need, the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology under the leadership of its President, Michael Sweeney, OP, initiated the College of Fellows.

Fellows serve as a resource to the School by gathering to consider the questions, problems, and opportunities of our day in light of both their own learning and experience and also their faith. Fellows offer analyses of contemporary issues, present colloquia to supplement the School’s curriculum, illumine issues where more probing philosophical and theological consideration is necessary, model collaboration of lay experts in the mission of the Church, and offer guidance to interested students. Fellows thus help the School to consider temporal matters that have philosophical and theological relevance from the perspective that their own competence and experience affords. They can thereby enhance the education that DSPT provides through its curriculum by offering for reflection the particular practical considerations without which prudence in engaging contemporary culture would be impossible. In their discussions and presentations, the Fellows are enriched by their conversation together, even as they contribute to the mission of the School.
Fr. Michael Sweeney is convinced that the laity have an office in the Church. It is directed towards the fulfillment of the properly secular mission of the Church, which is to redeem the culture. DSPT Fellows are instrumental in helping the School achieve its mission to preach – to engage men and women and the contemporary culture and to convert by means of a loving fidelity to the Truth. 

The College of Fellows officially gathers twice a year:

  • The Convocation of the College of Fellows is an annual two-day gathering around the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28). It is held the Friday and Saturday immediately before the beginning of each Spring semester. Fridays of the Convocation are usually reserved for a conversation that is open to the entire DSPT community (students, faculty, alumni and former students, trustees, and staff). Saturday afternoons entail public presentations and a reception.
  • The second gathering coincides with DSPT Commencement Exercises in mid-to-late May.   

The members of the College of Fellows are:

  • Mary Cunningham Agee, corporate executive, entrepreneur, author, lecturer, philanthropist, founder and President of the Nurturing Network, President of Semper Charitable Foundation (inducted May 2011)

  • Luis F. Aguilar, professor and expert in governance; Founder and Director of The Research Institute of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Guadalajara, Mexico (inducted May 2014)

  • Ron Austin, author, Hollywood screenwriter and producer, a member of both the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science and the Directors Guild (inducted May 2011)

  • Gil Bailie, one of the most significant exponents of Rene Girard's literary works (inducted May 2010)

  • Patrick McKinley Brennan, lawyer, educator, and author; John F. Scarpa Chair in Catholic Legal Studies at Villanova University (inducted May 2014)

  • Bill Cox, President and CEO of Catholic Health Alliance which represents California's health care system and hospitals (inducted May 2012)

  • André Delbecq, J. Thomas and Kathleen McCarthy University Professor of Management at Santa Clara University (inducted May 2006); Dean of the College of Fellows

  • Edward "Ned" Dolejsi, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference (inducted May 2007)

  • Barbara Elliott, President of the Center for Renewal, journalist, activist (inducted May 2006)

  • Robert B. Flint, attorney who has worked closely with the Archbishop of Alaska and the Governor of Alaska on matters of public policy, particularly adoption law (inducted May 2011)

  • Raymond Flynn, politician, activist, former Mayor of Boston, former United States Ambassador to the Holy See (inducted May 2007)

  • Rick Gallagher, clinical professor in the Department of Health Care and Epidemiology at the University of British Columbia (inducted May 2008)

  • Dana Gioia, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, poet (inducted May 2008)

  • Ron Hansen, Gerard Manley Hopkins S.J. Professor of English at Santa Clara University, novelist (inducted May 2009)

  • Mary Hirschfeld, Assistant Professor of Economics and Theology at Villanova University, economist, theologian, educator (inducted May 2013)

  • Francis Russell Hittinger, William K. Warren Chair of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa, member of Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (inducted May 2013)

  • Daniel Lungren, former United States Congressman, former Attorney General of California (inducted May 2010)

  • Michael Naughton, Moss Chair in Catholic Social Thought and Professor of Catholic Studies and Ethics and Law at the University of St. Thomas (inducted May 2009)

  • The Hon. John T. Noonan, Jr., Senior Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (inducted May 2009)

  • Michael West Oborne, professor, author; Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University; former OECD Director of Strategic Foresight (inducted May 2014)

  • Peer Portner†, founder of Novacor Medical Corporation, developer of the Novacor Heart Assist System (inducted May 2008)

  • Velma Richmond, Professor Emerita of English at Holy Names College (inducted May 2008)

  • James Francis Cardinal Stafford, Cardinal-Priest of S. Pietro in Montorio, Major Penitentiary Emeritus (inducted May 2009); Episcopal Liaison to the College of Fellows

  • Kevin Starr, Professor of History at the University of Southern California, California State Librarian Emeritus (inducted May 2006)

  • Anthony R. Tersigni,  President and Chief Executive Officer of Ascension Health Alliance, the world’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system (inducted May 2013)

  • Gleaves Whitney, Director of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University (inducted May 2006)

  • Agnieszka Winkler, founder and chairperson of The Winkler Group, a SF based management consultancy specializing in branding and marketing (inducted May 2012)

  • Gregory Wolfe, founder and editor of Image, a literary and arts quarterly journal (inducted May 2012)

 Videos of presentations by DSPT Fellows:

Mazatlán Forum - The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology sent its representatives to Mexico to join top Mexican intellectuals for conversations examining political, economic, and social assumptions at work in Mexico and the US.
2013 Convocation of the DSPT College of Fellows:  DSPT Fellows Ron Austin, Gleaves Whitney, and Agnieszka Winkler offer presentations on the significance of a Catholic imagination in contemporary culture given their vocations as lay men and women.
2012 Convocation of the College of Fellows - four public presentations on the theme of "Catholic Imagination and Contemporary Culture" were delivered by Dan LungrenFmr. Ambassador Ray FlynnBarbara Elliott and Judge John T. Noonan, Jr.
Work as Sacramental: The Mysterious Dynamics of Personal Vocation - presentation by DSPT Fellows Michael Naughton and André L. Delbecq. 
2011 Convocation of the DSPT College of Fellows -  presentations delivered by DSPT Fellows Gil Bailie, Ron Hansen, and James Francis Cardinal Stafford.