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Christendom College’s fourth president

Dr. George Harne

Christendom College’s fourth president

Dr. George Harne

News Release

Welcoming Messages

Videos

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Works by
Dr. Harne

Christendom College’s Board of Directors has voted to name Dr. George Harne as the college’s next president. A widely respected and accomplished scholar of music history and the liberal arts, Harne earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University and received master’s degrees from Princeton, St. John’s College, and the University of Washington. Harne, who previously served as the Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for the University of St. Thomas in Houston and as President of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, brings with him extensive experience in both the administrative and academic dimensions of higher education, making him ideally suited to serve as Christendom’s fourth president.

Video Messages

Along with the entire Diocese of Arlington community, I welcome the announcement of the Christendom College board of directors in naming Dr. George Harne as the new college president. I look forward to working with Dr. Harne, as Christendom College is a treasure in this diocese and to the universal Church. Dr. Harne will be privileged to lead a faculty, staff, and student body who are committed to serving Christ and illuminating the fundamental truths of the Catholic faith for the world. His extensive experience at the highest levels of academia, along with his commitment to serving Christ’s church, will be a blessing to the Christendom community.

Dr. Harne follows a line of leaders at Christendom who have laid a strong foundation that positions it for further development and opportunity. He succeeds Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, who has played an indispensable role in making Christendom the shining beacon that it is today. 

Especially at this time of transition, I assure the entire Christendom College community of my continued prayers and entrust them to the patronage of Our Lady of Fatima, that under her mantle, Christendom will be blessed for years to come under the leadership of Dr. Harne.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge

Diocese of Arlington

I am delighted to have him as my successor, ensuring continuity and fidelity to the mission and helping to advance our vital educational apostolate. I ask for your continued prayers and support for Dr. Harne as he joyfully embraces the task of leading this educational adventure which is Christendom College.

Dr. Timothy O'Donnell

President, Christendom College

Dr. Harne will bring experience, leadership, vision, and humility to his role as president of Christendom College, thanks to his extensive background in higher education administration, fundraising, and teaching. The college has never been in a stronger position, and Dr. Harne will help guide our institution into its exciting next chapter.

Stephen O'Keefe ’93

Chairman, Board of Directors

OUTSTANDING! I have enormous respect for Dr. Harne. He will be a huge blessing to a College that is renewing the Church and the world. Thank you, trustees! Thank you God!

Patrick Reilly

President, Cardinal Newman Society

N E W S    R E L E A S E 

Dr. George Harne Named Next President of Christendom College

Christendom College’s Board of Directors has voted to name Dr. George Harne as the college’s next president.

A widely respected and accomplished scholar of music history and the liberal arts, Harne earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University and received master’s degrees from Princeton, St. John’s College, and the University of Washington. Harne, who previously served as the Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences for the University of St. Thomas in Houston and as President of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts, brings with him extensive experience in both the administrative and academic dimensions of higher education, making him ideally suited to serve as Christendom’s fourth president.

“We are thrilled to announce Dr. George Harne as our next president,” says Stephen O’Keefe ’93, chairman of the college’s Board of Directors and co-chair of the special committee leading the presidential search. “Dr. Harne will bring experience, leadership, vision, and humility to his role as president of Christendom College, thanks to his extensive background in higher education administration, fundraising, and teaching. The college has never been in a stronger position, and Dr. Harne will help guide our institution into its exciting next chapter.”

Harne’s transition will begin in June, with his official term as president starting in July 2024.

“Christendom College has stood as a beacon for what Catholic higher education can be in America since its founding,” says Harne. “I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Timothy O’Donnell and the other previous presidents of this institution. There is much work ahead, and I am humbled to play a part in the history of this extraordinary college.”

Harne will succeed Dr. Timothy O’Donnell, who has faithfully served the college as president for over thirty years and two-thirds of the college’s lifetime. Under his leadership, the college has grown exponentially, with new campus buildings, such as Christ the King Chapel, an alumni base that has grown to nearly 4,000 with 166 alumni priests and religious among their ranks, and growth of the college’s endowment from $200,000 to over $28 million while adhering to its commitment of no government funding. Further, under his leadership, Christendom merged with the Notre Dame Institute to form the Christendom College Graduate School of Theology, expanding its offerings to graduate-level theological and catechetical programs. Christendom also expanded internationally during his tenure, with the launch of the Junior Semester in Rome in 2002 and the St. Columcille Institute in Ireland in 2013.

Michele Velasco ’90, co-chair of the Presidential Search Committee, praised O’Donnell for his leadership and contributions to the college.

“For nearly forty years, Dr. Timothy O’Donnell has been instrumental in the history of Christendom College, first as a professor and then as president. No one has worked harder to advance the work of Christendom, and for that, we are deeply indebted to him,” says Velasco. “On behalf of the Board of Directors and our entire Christendom family, I want to express our gratitude for his humble service and his incredible leadership of our institution.”

Dr. O’Donnell announced in May of 2023 his intention to retire as president and requested the Board of Directors to begin the search process at that time. After much hard work, consideration, and prayer, Harne was named president on March 25, 2024.

“On behalf of the entire college, I want to congratulate and welcome Dr. George Harne as our new president,” says O’Donnell. “Christendom will be in good hands, and we are blessed to have him as our incoming president. I want to give thanks to Christ the King for the opportunity to have served the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and board of this college, which holds such an important place in Catholic higher education and in the work of the Church at large. Together, we worked to continue the mission of our founder, Dr. Warren Carroll, to ‘restore all things in Christ,’ and I look forward to seeing this mission continue to flourish in the future.”

Harne, who was born in Florida, received his undergraduate degree in music from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1994 before earning his M.A. in Historical Musicology from the University of Washington in 1996. He then continued his graduate studies at St. John’s College, earning a Master of Liberal Studies degree in 1998. Finally, he completed his graduate work in Musicology at Princeton, earning an M.F.A. in 2000 and his Ph.D. in 2008. Since then, his scholarly work has focused primarily on medieval music theory and topics related to liberal education.

During his time in college and graduate studies, Harne also experienced a change in his faith. After growing up in southern Pentecostalism, Harne and his wife were married in a Presbyterian church and became Episcopalian in graduate school. This move through ‘higher’ forms of liturgical practice ran parallel to his growing interest in the Catholic intellectual tradition and Church history. His reading of Newman and magisterial documents, the examples of Popes Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and questions of ecclesiology ultimately led him and his wife on a journey of conversion. In 2005, Harne and his family entered the Catholic Church.

After earning his Ph.D. from Princeton, Harne joined Magdalen College as a member of the faculty in 2008 and became its academic dean in 2009, substantially expanding and renewing the college’s curriculum. Following his two years as academic dean, Harne was named president of the college in 2011, serving for nine years. In this role, he championed the founding vision of the college, transformed its student culture, and brought back its founding president, Dr. Peter Sampo, as a member of the faculty. During his tenure, the college also reached record enrollment and fundraising goals, received the American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s (ACTA) “A” rating for its curriculum, recruited nationally respected faculty, and achieved regional accreditation for the first time.

In 2020, Harne stepped down as president and accepted the position of Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. In this role, Harne worked diligently to clarify and strengthen the university’s Catholic identity through a renewal of the university’s core curriculum, in which he was helped by professor, and Christendom alumnus, Dr. Andrew Hayes ‘04. He also collaborated in the creation of new, mission-centered academic programs, “Formation for Mission” seminars for new faculty, and a culture conducive to liberal learning and the principles of Pope St. John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae.  During this time, he also co-created and taught a new fine arts course animated by the philosophy of Joseph Pieper and Etienne Gilson.

In his role as Executive Dean, Harne also created a podcast called “Spelunking with Plato,” which featured conversations on Catholic liberal education, started a faculty colloquium based on the writings of Josef Pieper, and established a website for the School of Arts and Sciences, where he and his colleagues wrote on Catholic higher education.

Harne is guided in his work by a clear, passionate vision of Catholic education that is animated by the thought of Newman, Pieper, Plato, Aristotle, Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI. In particular, Harne has drawn deeply upon Pope St. John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Fides et Ratio, and Newman’s writings on education. Each of these key documents—along with Pope Benedict XVI’s landmark address at The Catholic University of America in 2008—have formed his vision of what Catholic higher education should be.

During the extensive interview process, Harne impressed board members, faculty, and administrative leaders with his depth of experience, insights, humility, and clear commitment to the college’s mission.

“Dr. George Harne is a person of great integrity and faith who embodies the values at the core of Christendom,” says O’Keefe. “I, and the rest of the Board of Directors, are excited to see him lead this college in the years ahead.”

Karla Hester ’99, a member of the Board of Directors and the Presidential Search Committee, echoed O’Keefe, saying, “Dr. Harne impressed us with his deep commitment to our mission and his ability to dialogue with the key stakeholders at the college, from faculty, to staff, to students and alumni. His intellect, patience, and humor will make him a highly effective leader and teacher at this college.”

Harne’s vote by the Board of Directors was the culmination of an extensive search process launched in May of 2023 with the formation of the Presidential Search Committee. The five-member committee–which included members of the Board of Directors–conducted nearly 100 interviews with faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and parents throughout the nomination and review process, working diligently to choose the college’s next president.

Harne will be the college’s fourth president, following Founding President Dr. Warren Carroll (1977-1985), Dr. Damian Fedoryka (1985-1992), and Dr. Timothy O’Donnell (1992-2024). He will not formally take office until July of 2024, and, for the next few months, he will transition into his new role alongside Dr. O’Donnell, who intends to return to the classroom following a well-deserved sabbatical.

“I am blessed to have known Dr. Harne for years,” says Dr. O’Donnell. “Dr. Harne and his lovely and talented wife, Debbie, together will make an outstanding team for Christendom. He will lead this college with wisdom and courage, building upon the past and leading it into a bright future. I am delighted to have him as my successor, ensuring continuity and fidelity to the mission and helping to advance our vital educational apostolate. I ask for your continued prayers and support for Dr. Harne as he joyfully embraces the task of leading this educational adventure which is Christendom College.”

Harne will begin his tenure at a pivotal moment for Christendom College, which is consistently recognized for its rigorous, authentically Catholic liberal arts education. The college recently celebrated its 45th anniversary with the dedication of its new Christ the King Chapel, while also setting records in admissions and fundraising. The college also recently was awarded reaffirmation of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), following several years of hard work and preparation by the college’s accreditation team.

“I truly believe that Christendom will play a leading role in the renewal of the Church and Catholic higher education in the next fifty years,” says Harne. “As the college soon moves into its fifth decade, it will stand courageously as the model of Catholic higher education in this country, providing young men and women with the education they need to become wise, serve as salt and light in our world, and renew the very foundations of our society. May Our Heavenly Father bless our efforts, and I ask for your prayers in the years ahead.”

Harne and his wife, Debbie, have five children.

Works by Dr. Harne

Interviews & Lectures

Blog and Podcast

Current Projects

  • Book Manuscript (2019-). A translation of the Speculum Musicae, Book 1, chapters 1-29 with commentary and clavis of scholastic terms. In collaboration with Calvin Bower (University of Notre Dame and the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, retired)
  • Book Manuscript (2022-). Title: When Philosophy Sings: Form and Substance in the Musical Philosophy and Polemics of the Speculum musicae. (Complete draft completed November 2023, under revision.)

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • “Distinguishing theory from practice: habitus, scientia and musical cognition in the
  • Speculum musicae,” Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory 20 (2013)
  • “Unstable Embodiments of Musical Theory and Practice in the Speculum musicae,” Plainsong and Medieval Music 21 (October 2012)
  • “The Ends of Theory and Practice in the Speculum musicae,” Musica disciplina 55 (2010)

Invited Publications

Invited Lectures