Grove City College’s new President, the Hon. Paul J. McNulty ’80, offered students, faculty and staff a renewed vision of the College’s mission at Thursday’s Opening Convocation.
McNulty, a former Deputy U.S. Attorney General and federal prosecutor who spent decades in Washington, opened his remarks with a touch of humor, offering a twist on Ronald Reagan’s “nine most terrifying words in the English language.”
“I’m from Washington and I’m here to help,” he said, prompting laughter from the crowd in Harbison Chapel. “That usually means hold onto your wallets, but not in this case.”
McNulty said life and work in the nation’s capital is consumed with connections – “It’s all about who you know.” He contrasted those transactional relationships with the transformative one that the College offers its students and graduates as they faithfully pursue their callings to integrate their faith into every aspect of their lives.
“What has drawn us home to Grove City after 31 years in Washington is an entirely different type of connection … This connection shaped and determined my calling for life,” he said. “What is this powerful Grove City connection I speak of? It’s the connection between Christ and everything, particularly the connection between faith and learning.”
That, he said, influences the College’s mission in meaningful ways. It means that academics should strive to “learn all we can about Christ’s creation” with humility and boldness – a pursuit extending to familiar principles that are a critical part of the College’s mission and legacy.
“We must continue to explore the critical relationship between faith and freedom so we are better able to defend both,” he said. But that defense should be respectful, he said, citing the Gospel’s call for kindness, humility and patience. “Our goal at Grove City College is to be known not just for the strength of our minds but the character of our debate.”
Grove City College’s “greatest contribution” to the world is nearly 27,000 living graduates who possess the ability to “transform culture with wisdom, faithfulness, courage and integrity,” McNulty said.
“Faith and freedom will encounter formidable challenges in the years ahead and Grove City College must be a prophetic voice for all that we hold dear,” he concluded.
The convocation marks the formal beginning of a new academic year at the College and served to welcome 698 new students joining the 2,500-strong student body in addition to introducing 17 new faculty members to its ranks.
McNulty began work as Grove City College’s ninth president two weeks ago. He brings a wealth of public and private sector experience to the presidential suite, in addition to his close personal connection to the College.
As well as serving as the Justice Department’s second-in-command from 2005 to 2007 and as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he oversaw terrorist prosecutions after Sept. 11, McNulty was a senior attorney with the U.S. House of Representatives and a partner in the global law firm Baker & McKenzie. He is considered a leading expert on business ethics, corporate governance and regulatory risk management.
He studied history and met his wife Brenda (Millican ’80) at Grove City College and is the fourth alumnus to serve as President of the College since it was founded in 1876. Two of his four children also are graduates of the College.
McNulty served on the Grove City College Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2014. He received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater in 2007 and the Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award in 1998. He also was awarded an honorary LLD in 2003 from Capital University School of Law where he received his juris doctorate degree in 1983.
Audio of McNulty’s address is available HERE.
Video highlights of the speech are available HERE.