Though his academic training and personal interests inclined himtoward political theory and foreign policy matters, Brian A. McGrath,S.J.'s most significant activity took place under the auspices of theadministration of Georgetown University, on which he served for over twodecades.
Fr. McGrath was born in Washington, D.C. on October 22, 1913, and wasa 1931 graduate of that city's Gonzaga College High School. From there,McGrath entered the Society of Jesus, also in 1931, and was ordained atWoodstock College in 1944. After his graduation from St. Louis Universityin 1936, McGrath went on to earn a master's degree in political sciencefrom Georgetown (1940), and a second master's, also in political science,from Harvard University (1949).
McGrath's administrative career at Georgetown began in 1950, when hegave up teaching political science in order to become Dean of the Collegeof Arts and Sciences, a position he held until 1957. While still Dean ofthe College, McGrath in 1955 became Academic Vice President of Georgetown,and continued there until his appointment to the position of AdministrativeVice President in June of 1966. This latter position he relinquished in1970, when he became Senior Vice President from then on through thefollowing year, and during the rest of the decade, he was executivesecretary of Georgetown's Board of Regents. In addition, he was a memberof Georgetown's Board of Directors from 1950 to 1968.
Besides his service at Georgetown, McGrath served throughout the 1950sand 1960s on a number of Boards of Directors and Trustees, and in severalorganizations in different capacities. Among these organizations were theGreater Washington Educational Television Association, for which he servedon the Executive Committee; the Jesuit Research Council of America, forwhich he served as chairman and a member of the Board of Directors; and"Confluence", the journal of political theory edited by Henry Kissinger, onwhose editorial board McGrath served from 1953 until the journal ceasedpublication in 1958.
McGrath's tenure at "Confluence" was evidence of his continuinginterest not only in the abstract analysis of political theory proper, butin the application of those analyses to the more mundane particulars oflived politics. (Perhaps this latter interest was satisfied in McGrath'sadministrative career, for which political decisions are both a feature ofand a necessity for daily business.) McGrath's most useful excursion intothe field of political thought and application was, perhaps, his hosting,in 1951, of a meeting of the heads of postwar German political parties.This meeting, the purpose of which was to clarify the complicated issues ofWest German sovereignty, and that country's international cooperation withWestern Europe and the United States, is credited with having contributednot only to the German acceptance of U.S. leadership in postwar WesternEurope, but to the stability of the political organization of West Germany.
A constant throughout McGrath's varied political activities wasMcGrath's belief in the ideal of a political theory informed by the goalsand categories of Christian thought, a belief that no doubt underlay hisparticipation in the Conferences on Christian Political and Social Thoughtof 1960 and 1961.
Fr. McGrath died of a heart attack on March 25, 1988.
The items in the Brian A. McGrath, S.J., Papers reflect the career of theman whose professional life they document. The majority of correspondencerelates to McGrath's administrative duties, though there is a significantamount of personal correspondence dating from 1958, the year McGrath spentabroad at Georgetown University at Fribourg. Similarly, the manuscripts,most of which are student notes and texts of the addresses and speechesMcGrath delivered so frequently, relate for the most part to McGrath'sactivities as a participant at educational conferences and alumnifunctions. Some do, however, reflect McGrath's intellectual concerns inregard to political theory. It is interesting to note that thoughMcGrath's career at Georgetown spanned a period that saw the Universityundergo a number of changes, both organizationally and philosophically,very little of the tumult of events appears in McGrath's writings, with theexception of the occasional alumni address with its reference to theadversarial culture and the university, or to the student unrest of thelate 1960s.
ACCESSION DATA: The Rev. Brian A. McGrath, S.J. Papers came from the Jesuit Community ofGeorgetown.
BULK DATES: 1939 - 1980
SPAN DATES: 1933 - 1986
EXTENT: 11 lin ft, 9 boxes