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6 March 2019
For Immediate Release

The St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center at the University of Kansas is pleased to announce that, effective April 1, 2019, Elizabeth Rhea Kirk will become the Director of the Center’s Institute for Faith and Culture and will concurrently serve as its Kowalski Chair of Catholic Thought.

Elizabeth joins the Center with extensive experience in higher education, and a passion for the IFC’s desire to create culture that is integrated, liberal and Catholic. The St. Lawrence Center enthusiastically welcomes her help in its desire to ‘guide great stories’ at the University of Kansas. From 2005 to 2010, Elizabeth served as the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, an interdisciplinary center inspired by the teachings of St. Pope John Paul II and dedicated to bringing the great treasures of the Catholic moral, intellectual and cultural tradition to bear upon the formation of students. During her time there, Elizabeth served with a team to create an environment for students to place their academic studies within a Catholic vision of the integrated human person. She was responsible for administering the Center’s enormously popular annual interdisciplinary Fall Conference and the annual “Catholic Culture Series,” a series of lectures focused on prominent Catholic figures in literature and the arts. From 2012 to 2016, Elizabeth served as a resident fellow in cultural and legal studies at the Stein Center for Social Research at Ave Maria University.

Elizabeth holds an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Missouri, a law degree from the University of Notre Dame, and has done graduate studies in theology. She studied jurisprudence with Charles E. Rice and John Finnis, Aquinas on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics with Ralph McInerny, the Catholic intellectual renaissance of the 20th century with Michael Novak and Michael Pakaluk, and the relationship between philosophy and theology with Fr. Matthew Lamb. Personally, Elizabeth will be able to animate culture at St. Lawrence through her lived experience as a devout Catholic, wife, and mother of four children.


Elizabeth also brings considerable experience in matters pertaining to the family in law and policy, and St. Lawrence anticipates lively conversations in our Institute around the fruitful topics of life, marriage, family, and sexuality. Elizabeth is an associate scholar for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, serving as a legal policy expert, with a special interest in adoption law and policy. She clerked for a federal appellate court judge (the Honorable Daniel A. Manion of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit) and taught law at The Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and at Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In 2010, she helped found the Vita Institute, an intensive interdisciplinary training program for leaders in the national and international pro-life movement held annually at the University of Notre Dame. Elizabeth was recently named by Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to be a consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life committee, which he chairs. Elizabeth is also a member of the advisory council for the Catholic Women’s Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a board member for The Catholic Bar Association.

“Through my administrative and academic experience over a decade in Catholic higher education, I have a deep appreciation for the important role that universities serve in transforming culture,” Elizabeth says. “As Pope Francis stated in Evangelii Gaudium, ‘universities are outstanding environments for articulating and developing this evangelizing commitment in an interdisciplinary and integrated way.’ The St. Lawrence Center’s Institute for Faith and Culture responds vigorously to this task, and I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the development and promotion of its mission.”

“St. Lawrence is thrilled to have someone of Elizabeth’s accomplishments, passion, acumen, strength, fidelity, character, and lived experience leading our Institute into the future,” says Fr. Mitchel Zimmerman the Center’s Director.  “She will be a tremendous teacher and witness at St. Lawrence and at KU.”

The St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center was founded in 1958 by the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to be the Catholic Church at KU.  Its mission is to form those at KU in the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Catholic intellectual, moral, liturgical and spiritual tradition.

The Institute of Faith and Culture was founded in 2009 to provide an experience at KU that is integrated, liberal and Catholic.  The IFC guides great stories by fostering relationships, formation and experiences that promote the integration of the Catholic faith and tradition with the larger university culture.