Gifts of Duda and Croghan Families Brought Scholars to Northwestern
Rosemary and John Croghan
The growth of Catholic Studies thriving at Northwestern can be traced to an observation made by former President Henry Bienen to philanthropist Fritz Duda: that Northwestern's religion curriculum lacked a Catholic studies minor.
"Henry and I both felt that Northwestern would have the opportunity of being a leader in this field," said Duda, in an interview with Crosscurrents in 2005. "Mrs. Duda and I are pleased to establish a chair that will facilitate these efforts. Chicago is one of the great Catholic cities in the United States, and Northwestern's leadership in this field will be of great benefit to students and the broader community."
"The gift of new lines is an act of great importance to the College," observed Dean Sarah Mangelsdorf. "These two new faculty positions in the Religious Studies department allow us to grow our offerings in an area of great student interest without diminishing other important areas of study."
Fritz Duda is the owner and founder of the Fritz Duda Company, a real estate investment and development company headquartered in Dallas, with offices in Chicago and Newport Beach. He and his wife, Mary Lee Nagle Duda, gave an endowed professorship in honor of Mrs. Duda's mother, Grace Craddock Nagle, who remained a strong supporter of Roman Catholic education throughout her life. Two of the six Duda children graduated from Northwestern—Jim in 1989 from Medill, and Lindsey in 2005 from the School of Communication.
From left, Dean Mangelsdorf, Orsi,
Mary Lee Duda, Fritz Duda,
former Northwestern President
Henry Bienen, and Provost Daniel
Linzer at Orsi's inaugural lecture
as the Grace Craddock Nagle
Professor in Catholic Studies
For John and Rosemary Croghan, the gift of an endowed assistant professorship seemed a natural fit with their Catholic faith and their deep interest in education. John is Chairman of Rail-Splitter Capital Management, a Northwestern Trustee, and a member of the finance council of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Rosemary is a member of the founding Board of Trustees of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago's Hispanic Pilsen neighborhood, an innovative model school known for the success of its students in attending college. She is also a trustee of Loyola University.
The Croghans earlier established a visiting professorship in Catholic Studies at Williams College, which three of their children attended. At Northwestern, John Croghan said, he hopes Catholic and non-Catholic students alike will "better understand the rich intellectual history of the Church" with some of the expanded course offerings. Furthermore, he said both he and his wife are great believers in the benefits of studying liberal arts.
"Bob Orsi is a world-class scholar," said Croghan, "who was recruited from Harvard University, and he recruited Michelle Molina, who brings an international flavor to the subject."
While donors take no part in the hiring process, Professor Molina remarked on the coincidence that she studies the Jesuits and Mrs. Croghan works with the Jesuits today at Cristo Rey. "Rosemary is a contemporary version of some of the women I study and, with her mother originally from Mexico, we have an interesting shared personal story about some of our family heritages….It was a match made in heaven."
Robert Orsi added a note of gratitude to the Croghans and the Dudas. "They have made this (growth of Catholic Studies) possible in a very striking way. They have also been extremely mindful of the integrity of academic responsibility, of what it means to teach a tradition of faith in an academic setting."Back to top