Skip to Main Content

Patrick F. Healy, S.J.: Georgetown University President, 1873-1882

This guide highlights primary and secondary sources available in the Booth Family Center for Special Collection for research on Patrick F. Healy, S.J.



Patrick F. Healy, S.J. is one of Georgetown University’s most dynamic presidents and is credited with transforming Georgetown from a small liberal arts college into a modern university. In addition to raising funds for a large new building which today bears his name and to overseeing its construction, he undertook to expand the curriculum by increasing studies in science and English, to implement more strenuous graduation requirements, and to to improve the professional schools. 

Born in Georgia in 1834, Father Healy was the third son of Michael Morris Healy, an Irish immigrant, and an enslaved woman named Eliza. He entered the Jesuit Order in 1850 and served as Georgetown President from 1873 to 1882. Neither the Jesuit Order nor Father Healy acknowledged his racial heritage during his lifetime and no African Americans were admitted to Georgetown College while he was President.




Born near Macon, Georgia on February 27




Enrolls at Holy Cross College at Worcester, Massachusetts in August




Mother dies on May 19

Graduates from Holy Cross on July 25

Father dies on August 29

Enters the Jesuit Novitiate at Frederick, Maryland in September




Returns to Holy Cross to teach




Comes to Georgetown to study philosophy and theology

Transferred to Rome, Italy where he arrives on December 19




Goes to study at the University of Louvain in Belgium




Ordained to the priesthood




Earns a Ph.D. from Louvain




Returns to Georgetown to teach philosophy




Professes final vows as a Jesuit on February 2




Becomes Prefect of Studies (Dean of the College)




Becomes acting President on May 23

Georgetown sophomores and juniors begin studying chemistry




Becomes President when the acting portion of his title is removed on July 31 

Engages two architects, John L. Smithmeyer and Paul Pelz to design a new building which will later become known as Healy Hall




Construction begins on Healy Hall; the cornerstone is laid on December 12

Begins Georgetown’s first fundraising campaign since John Carroll circulated his Proposals in 1787 in December, to fund the construction of Healy Hall




Medical School increases its course of studies from two to three years and lengthens its academic calendar from five to seven months

Law Department establishes a one-year Master’s program devoted especially to proficiency in practice

Doctors insist on a brief vacation in California for health reasons in November

Travels extensively to fund raise between December 1878 and June 1880




Georgetown awards the Bachelor of Science degree for the first time




Invites alumni to form an Alumni Association




Healy Hall opens


ca. 1881


Signs Medical School rules which specify that No other than white male students shall be admitted to this school




Resigns for health reasons on February 16

Students meet on February 18 and resolve That we, the students of Georgetown, in [Father Healy’s] resignation lose a Superior whose management of the College has always conduced to its honor and prosperity, and whose relations with ourselves and former students have always been of the most pleasant character 




The name Healy Hall is applied for the first time to the building previously known as the Main Building or the New Building on September 17




Dies in the Georgetown College infirmary on January 19 and is buried in the Jesuit Cemetery on campus




Father Healy’s tombstone is restored by the Patrick healy Commemorative Committee established to observe the 100th anniversary of Father healy becoming president

Mass observing the 100th anniversary of his becoming president is celebrated by Archbishop of Washington in Dahlgren Chapel on July 31


Creative Commons   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International License. | Details of our policy