April 13, 2004
CUA Community Mourns Death of Clarence C. Walton,
University President (1969-79)
Clarence C. Walton, the first lay president of The Catholic University of America (1969-79), passed away on April 13, at his home in Maryland following a long illness, said Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president. The Scranton, Pa., native was 88 years old.
“In late October, Dr. Walton sent me a copy of his presidential memoirs to read,” recalled Father O’Connell after learning of Walton’s death from his son, Thomas. “He had spoken about this manuscript to me several times over the last few years. Every page of the text revealed how much Clarence loved Catholic University both as an alumnus and as an accomplished scholar. He was passionately dedicated to ensuring that his alma mater was positioned well to fulfill its potential as a preeminent Catholic graduate research institution. Every day of his 10-year presidency at CUA bore witness to that commitment as he balanced the worlds of academia, business and public service. He never stopped loving the university, to the very end.”
Walton was a prominent social scientist who earned his doctoral degree from CUA in 1951. A magna cum laude graduate of the University of Scranton, Walton received his master’s degree in history from Syracuse University. He taught social sciences, history and political science at Duquesne University and the University of Scranton before joining Columbia University, first as an associate dean, and later, from 1964 to 1969, as dean of its School of General Studies.
He was appointed to the post of CUA president after a 15-month search. According to his biography, the trustees described their choice as a “preeminent educator, a consultant on social and political sciences to major corporations, a prolific author.” After his appointment, the Washington Post (Jan. 31, 1969) described Walton as “the first layman to head a major Roman Catholic university in the United States.”
During his tenure at CUA, he spearheaded the first reconfiguration of the School of Religious Studies, as well as the establishment of the Center for Pastoral Liturgy under the auspices of the School of Religious Studies and the Center for Pre-retirement and Aging in conjunction with the National Catholic School for Social Service. He secured more than $14 million for the establishment on campus of the Boys Town Center for the Study of Youth Development. During his time at CUA, enrollment increased by more than 3,000 students and a half-dozen campus buildings were constructed, renovated or purchased; perhaps most notable among them was the construction of the Hartke Theatre.
Walton was also actively involved in public and community affairs. Before assuming CUA’s presidency, he was an elected member of the Scranton School Board and chairman of the Governor’s Commission on Fair Housing in Pennsylvania. After returning to CUA, in 1970 he was selected to chair President Richard Nixon’s four-member President’s Panel on Non-Public Education.
He was instrumental in founding the Washington Seminars, a university program that brought together business and government leaders from the metropolitan area to discuss common problems. One of his areas of expertise was business ethics; it was a subject of his scholarly work and a topic he presented in executive training programs sponsored by leading U.S. corporations.
Rev. William Byron, S.J., president of CUA from 1982 to 1992, was a dear friend of Walton. When Father O’Connell called to inform him of Walton’s death, Father Byron remarked, “Clarence had an outstanding commitment to CUA and its mission. He saw his role as its first lay president as a vocation and he gave CUA a great deal of heart.” Walton had asked Father Byron several years ago to preside at his funeral Mass and to preach the homily “when the time came.”
Walton was honored by his alma mater in 1978, when he was awarded the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, the CUA Alumni Association’s highest honor. He was also the recipient of honorary degrees from a dozen institutions of higher education.
At the end of World War II (during which he served in Naval Intelligence and aboard the USS Wisconsin), Walton married Elizabeth Kennedy of Pittsburgh. In addition to his wife, he is survived by two children – Thomas Michael and Mary Elizabeth
The funeral Mass for Clarence Walton will occur on Monday, April 19, at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of the Angels Church (711 Maiden Choice Lane) in Catonsville, Md. The viewing will occur before the Mass, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Interment will occur on April 20 in Scranton.
A memorial Mass will be held at CUA at a date to be determined in consultation with the Walton family.
Condolences my be sent to Mrs. Elizabeth K. Walton, 717 Maiden Choice Lane, Suite 121, Catonsville, MD 21228.
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