H. James Towey’s Controversies @ St Vincent College – Wikipedia | James Pat Guerréro

H. James Towey

Recently, the Ave Maria Board of Trustees has decided to replace Ave Maria University’s current president, Nicholas J. Healy, with H. James Towey (Jim Towey) in July 2011, when President Healy retires and assumes chair for the Foundation of the Arts at Ave Maria. Jim Towey will also assume CEO. Jim Towey was the President of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

According to Wikipedia, Jim Towey has two controversies that he acquired while President of Saint Vincent College. In summary, with regard to controversy one, Jim Towey is a lawyer, not a monk or an academic. (There should be loud bells and whistles!) The second controversy refers to his accusing one in his faculty and staff of immorality.

The point is, “Is not the current president, Nicholas J. Healy, also a lawyer?” And, “Has he handled issues morally?”


Conflict with faculty

Towey has faced some difficulties in his relationships with faculty members at St. Vincent.[15] In April 2008, he attributed much of the dissension to a clash of cultures with the predominantly Benedictine faculty, who were not accustomed to rapid change, and to the fact that he was “new to academia”.[16] In early 2008 a letter to the school board, signed by three-quarters of the school’s tenured faculty, said that Towey had created “an unparalleled crisis”, accusing Towey of “sanitizing the self-study portion of the school’s re-accreditation effort and displaying heavy-handed tactics in the search for an academic vice president,”[17] when he hired an untenured academic dean.[18]

Fr. Mark Gruber controversy

In November 2009 reports began emerging in which Towey accused a Priest/Professor, Father Mark Gruber, of sexual misconduct. In August 2009, local police were summoned to campus to investigate alleged instances of child pornography found on an open access computer outside Gruber’s office. The police closed the case noting that, in addition to the open access to the computer, there was no evidence a crime had been committed – images of nude men were found, but no subjects could be identified as being under 18.[19] Nonetheless, President Towey, Archabbot Douglas Nowicki and Bishop of the Greensburg Diocese Lawrence Brandt acted to immediately ban Gruber from his pastoral duties and to relieve him from his post as Professor of Anthropology.

Some suggested these actions were in retaliation for Fr. Gruber’s outspoken criticisms of the Towey administration. While Towey himself has not addressed these critics, administration spokespeople have denied the charges. Criticisms arguing that the administration perverted canon law in an attempt to subvert longstanding traditions of academic freedom, integrity and collegiality have not been addressed. The American Association of University Professors, alumni of Saint Vincent College as well as thousands of Fr. Gruber’s friends and colleagues have come to his defense.[19]

In December 2009, a former student of Gruber came forward stating that he had downloaded the pornography. College officials did not immediately reveal this information to police, who later found out of the man’s name from another source. The young man stated that Gruber knew of his actions but did not tell police when questioned because the student had told Gruber in sacramental confession, the contents of which are protected by canon law.[20]

The Rev. Louis Vallone, who teaches about confession in a Duquesne University law school course on canon law, once prepared to go to jail rather than testify about a man who had asked him first to hear his confession and then to drive him to a police station. A last-minute guilty plea in a murder case spared him.

If there had been a trial, “I was prepared to sit in jail for as long as it took,” he said. Prosecutors couldn’t legally ask him what the man confessed. But Father Vallone refused even to describe the man’s appearance, because it might provide a hint about the confession.

In church law, he said, violating that seal is a far more serious sin than viewing pornography. A priest would be excommunicated, and he could be forgiven only by the pope.

via Saint Vincent College – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


  1. ^http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/latrobe-pa/saint-vincent-college-3368
  2. ^ Rodgers, Ann (2010-01-28). “St. Vincent College names new president”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10028/1031660-59.stm. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  3. ^ abhttp://www.stvincent.edu/academics/bulletin_2009_11
  4. ^http://www.stvincent.edu/schools
  5. ^http://www.stvincent.edu/mckenna_school
  6. ^“Administrative Leadership”. Saint Vincent College. http://www.stvincent.edu/administration. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  7. ^Postcard from camp: Steelers, Peter King 08-20-2010.
  8. ^ Rodgers, Ann (2010-01-28). “St. Vincent College names new president”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10028/1031660-59.stm. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  9. ^ Maynard Brennan, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 May 2007, Mr. President: This place is not your place – St. Vincent College should not host a leader who has exhibited values antithetical to its mission
  10. ^U.S. News & World Report, 13 February 1994, How to Pull the Levers: A man of the House and the money he spends
  11. ^BusinessWeek, St. Vincent College, accessed 26 December 2009
  12. ^http://www.stvincent.edu/news_stories/news_stories/br_-norman-hipps-o_s_b_-named-17th-president-of-saint-vincent-college
  13. ^“President Addresses 2007 Saint Vincent Graduates”. KDKA-TV. May 11, 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. http://web.archive.org/web/20070927024409/http://kdka.com/topstories/local_story_131072244.html. Retrieved 2007-05-16.
  14. ^http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/westmoreland/print_617839.html
  15. ^ Garazik, Richard “St. Vincent faculty quietly revolts”, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 3, 2008. Archived by WebCite
  16. ^ Lederman, Doug. “Too Catholic, Even for Many Monks”. Inside Higher Ed, Apr 22, 2008. Archived by WebCite.
  17. ^Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2 April 2008, St. Vincent’s president a lightning rod for criticism
  18. ^ Michael D. Yates, CounterPunch, 25 December 2009, Fear and Loathing at St. Vincent College
  19. ^ abInside Higher Ed, 30 November 2009, Protecting a Punished Professor
  20. ^http://post-gazette.com/pg/10277/1092449-59.stm
  21. ^http://www.basilicaparishstv.org/about/about.html

Additional sources

  • Oetgen, Jerome (2000). Mission to America: A History of Saint Vincent Archabbey, the First Benedictine Monastery in the United States. Washington: Catholic University of America Press. ISBN0-8132-0957-9.

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