Leo J. O'Donovan

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Leo J. O'Donovan
44th President of Georgetown University
In office
Preceded byTimothy S. Healy
Succeeded byJohn J. DeGioia
Personal details
Born1934 (1934)
New York City, U.S.
EducationIona Preparatory School
Alma materGeorgetown University (BA)
Fordham University (PhD)
University of Münster (PhD)

Leo J. O'Donovan SJ (born 1934, in New York City) was the 44th President of Georgetown University, Washington, DC, United States. A 1952 graduate of Iona Preparatory School, and a 1956 graduate of Georgetown, he studied at the University of Lyon on a Fulbright scholarship and received a doctorate in 1961 from Fordham University. He obtained a doctoral degree in theology in 1971 from the University of Münster in Germany, where he studied under the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner.

O'Donovan has held a Danforth Fellowship, was a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Chicago, and has held several research grants from the Association of Theological Schools. O'Donovan has taught at Loyola College in Maryland, Woodstock College, and Union Theological Seminary, in addition to Georgetown University and the Weston Jesuit School of Theology. He has served as provincial assistant for formation in the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus and was a visiting fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center. He was ordained to the priesthood in the Society of Jesus in 1966.

While president of Georgetown, O'Donovan was known for his generally liberal political viewpoints, a strong contrast to his predecessor as president, Timothy Healy. It took intervention by the Vatican to force him to close down an on-campus pro-choice group,[1] which O'Donovan had refused to shut on free speech grounds. O'Donovan retired in 2001 and was succeeded by John J. DeGioia, the first layperson to head a Jesuit university. O'Donovan invited to campus various figures whose visits have sparked controversy, including Larry Flynt.[2]

The Leo J. O'Donovan S.J. Dining Hall at Georgetown University opened in 2003.

O'Donovan served on the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.[3]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Timothy S. Healy
44th President of Georgetown University
Succeeded by
John J. DeGioia