The Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America has appointed Peter K. Kilpatrick, Ph.D., as the 16th president of the University. He will take office on July 1, 2022.
Kilpatrick is a scholar — he is widely published and holds or shares 12 patents in chemical engineering — and an experienced higher education leader and administrator. He began his career at North Carolina State University. In 2008 he was recruited by the University of Notre Dame to be dean of engineering. Combining research and faith is important to Kilpatrick, who became Catholic as an adult. Since 2018, he has been provost and vice president for academic affairs for the Illinois Institute of Technology, an institution dedicated to lifting up people of all backgrounds.
“We could not have asked for a better candidate to lead Catholic University. Peter Kilpatrick is both a distinguished researcher and a creative administrator who sees research at the service of the human person in keeping with his Catholic faith,” said Victor P. Smith, J.D. 1996, chairman of the Search Advisory Committee and chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees.
“Serving as president of The Catholic University of America is a dream job for me, bringing together faith and reason in service to the human person and human dignity. I look forward to working with the faculty and community to continue moving Catholic University forward as a top tier research institution that also embraces its excellence in theology and the arts,” said Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick will succeed President John Garvey, who has served as president for 12 years.
Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop of Washington and Chancellor of Catholic University, welcomed Kilpatrick: “I would like to warmly congratulate Dr. Peter Kilpatrick on his appointment as the 16th President of The Catholic University of America. His wealth of experience, pursuit of academic excellence, and commitment to the Catholic identity of the University make him well qualified to guide the University into its next era.”
Kilpatrick received his undergraduate degree from Occidental College and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota. He spent the next 24 years at North Carolina State, advancing from assistant professor to department head of chemical and bio molecular engineering and then founding director of the Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center.
From 2008 to 2018, he was the Matthew H. McCloskey Dean of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. During that time, the number of faculty rose by more than 70%, Ph.D. enrollment by 50%, and undergraduate enrollment by 60%. Faculty research expenditures increased by more than 150% and endowments by $100 million. He co-developed a cross-program master’s in engineering, science and technology entrepreneurship and launched Notre Dame’s first joint Ph.D. program with the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Notre Dame now has nine joint Ph.D. programs with three universities, the others located in Hungary and Brazil.
At Illinois Tech, he developed the university’s five-year strategic plan, put in place new leadership, and drove development of an online master of applied science that diversified programs and increased revenue. Collaboration is a hallmark of his approach. Kilpatrick took steps to focus on student experience by bringing together several student-focused functions, including enrollment, student affairs, academic affairs, housing, and campus life. He also worked to bring together different program areas through themes such as technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation, and design.
Illinois Tech reports it is the top institution of higher ed in Illinois for lifting students from the bottom 20% of income to the top 20%.
Kilpatrick has published over 100 refereed academic articles, and delivered more than 150 invited lectures.
He came to his Catholic faith through his wife Nancy. During marriage preparation, Kilpatrick agreed to raise their children Catholic. When their first child was born, he not only fulfilled that commitment but also became Catholic, with his commitment to the dignity and priority of the person at the heart of his life and work.
He and Nancy have four adult children and three grandchildren.