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New Bioethics Chair

Posted: Monday, April 7, 2008

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Dr. Patrick Lee giving his keynote address, "Human Embryos: Subjects of Rights."

STEUBENVILLE, OH—Franciscan University celebrated the inception of the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair in Bioethics at a ceremony on March 28, 2008.

The first fully endowed academic chair in the history of Franciscan University was awarded to Patrick Lee, PhD, renowned philosopher and bioethicist.

“Questions about life itself, the dignity of life, and end-of-life issues are all being asked at this critical moment in our history,” said Father Terence Henry, TOR, president of Franciscan University. “It is crucial that we in the Church and in academics provide answers. So it is a moment of great pride and honor for Franciscan University to be able to announce the inception of its first endowed chair in bioethics.”

Dr. Patrick Lee has been a professor of philosophy at Franciscan University since 1992. He is the author of numerous articles in scholarly publications such as the American Journal of Jurisprudence, Bioethics, and Faith and Philosophy and is the author of Abortion and Unborn Human Life (Catholic University of America, 1996) and the recent Body-Self Dualism and Contemporary Ethics and Politics (with Robert P. George, Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Last year Lee was also selected to direct Franciscan University’s new Institute of Bioethics. In this capacity he defends and articulates the Church’s position on a wide range of human life issues through his writings, debates, and public speaking engagements.

In the first year of its existence, the Institute of Bioethics has hosted two important conferences, “Human Life: Its Beginning and End” for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, and “Ethical Issues in Sex and Marriage” for scholars, attorneys, and anyone interested in the Catholic position on the ongoing debate on sexual ethics and the status of marriage.

Endowed chairs are typically funded at $1.5 to $3 million to produce income to support the salary of the recipient, as well as administrative and other departmental activities.

Jack and Jamie McAleer first became acquainted with Franciscan University five years ago when their daughter was looking to attend a solidly Catholic college and her youth minister recommended Franciscan University. Since that time Jack retired from his position as an executive with the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. In 2005 Jamie McAleer was appointed a member of the Board of Trustees. Recently Jack and Jamie McAleer accepted positions as vice chairs of Franciscan University’s $25 million capital campaign.

The McAleers attended the March 28 inception ceremony and Lee’s keynote lecture, “Human Embryos: Subjects of Rights,” which followed the ceremony.

His talk defended the position that “every human being from conception until natural death is a person with full moral worth, and is a subject of rights who is worthy of the full protection of the law.”

Franciscan University President Father Terence Henry, TOR, and Dr. Patrick Lee, congratulate Jamie and John McAleer for their financial gift that funded Franciscan University's bioethics chair.

Drawing significantly on both natural law theory and the latest findings in embryology, Lee challenged the notions of those who believe embryos are not yet fully persons. Their position, he argued, denies the fundamental equal dignity of all human beings.

The funding of the endowed chair in bioethics achieves one of Franciscan University’s capital campaign goals for bioethics.

To promote the greatest impact of reasoned Catholic teachings and arguments on the most controversial bioethics issues of the day, the campaign seeks an additional $1.5 million. These funds will support training students at Franciscan University to address bioethical issues, additional scholarly research, and increased participation at public forums and debates.

For information on the Franciscan University Institute of Bioethics, contact Dr. Lee at For information on the Franciscan University Capital Campaign contact the Advancement Office at 800-783-6447.

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