Why were Holy Cross students receiving degrees from Georgetown in the middle of the 19th century?
When the College of the Holy Cross opened in 1843, it was unable to secure a charter from Massachusetts because of its exclusively Catholic enrollment. A charter was finally granted in 1865, but in the interim Georgetown conferred degrees on Holy Cross graduates. Interestingly, our 29th President, Patrick F. Healy, S.J., graduated from Holy Cross in 1850 while the institution was without a charter. Fr. Healy is known as the first African American to earn a Ph.D. (in Europe) and the first to head a predominantly white university. Technically, it appears that he can also lay claim to being the first African American to receive a degree from Georgetown.