Patrick Francis Healy Is Inaugurated As President Of Georgetown University

Patrick Francis Healy, SJ, was inaugurated as president of Georgetown University on July 31, 1874.

The Reverend Father John Carroll (later Archbishop Carroll), who was neither president of Georgetown University, nor a faculty member, founded the university in 1789. Healy is considered Georgetown's "second founder."

One of the first African Americans to receive a PhD and the first to head a predominantly white university, Healy was born in Jones County, Georgia, to Michael Morris Healy, an Irish-immigrant planter, and Mary Eliza, a mulatto slave. Patrick was one of ten children. The boys were not allowed to attend schools in Georgia as they were considered slaves by state law so Michael Healy sent his four older sons North where they would become free and able to receive an education. They first attended a Quaker school in Flushing, New York, before they enrolled in the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

After graduating, Patrick Healy entered the Jesuits in 1850. He took his vows in 1852 and became a teacher and prefect at St. Joseph's College in Philadelphia. In 1853 he returned to Holy Cross as a teacher and in 1858 he was assigned to study philosophy and theology at Georgetown University before receiving orders to go to Rome for further ecclesiastical studies. The Roman winter was hard on his health so he was sent to the Catholic University of Louvain (Leuven) in Belgium where he received a doctorate in philosophy in 1865. Healy became a priest in 1864. In 1866, he returned to teach philosophy at Georgetown, then a preparatory academy and small college.

Father Patrick Francis Healy (February 27, 1830 - January 10, 1910) was born in Macon, Georgia to Irish-American plantation owner Michael Healy and bi-racial slave Mary Eliza.

Of the Healy family of Georgia, Patrick, as he was known, was the first African American to earn a PhD, the first to become a Jesuit priest, and the first to become president of a major university in the United States. His brothers James and Michael also achieved notable firsts for African Americans during the second half of the 19th century.