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College of the Holy Cross looks outside of the religious order for its new president

Vincent D. Rougeau, named 33rd president of the College of the Holy Cross.Webb Chappell Photography

The College of the Holy Cross has named its first lay and first Black president, the Worcester institution announced this week.

The Catholic college tapped Vincent D. Rougeau, dean of Boston College Law School, as its 33rd president. Rougeau will assume the post on July 1 and succeed the Rev. Philip L. Boroughs.

Boroughs, who has been president at Holy Cross for almost a decade, announced last September that he would step down at the end of the school year.

Rougeau’s selection marks a departure for Holy Cross in its 178-year history of picking presidents who were also priests. But Richard Patterson, the chairman of the Jesuit college’s board of trustees, praised Rougeau’s commitment to Catholic education.


“Both his scholarship and his leadership demonstrate his profound dedication to Catholic social teaching and to educating students toward seeking justice and making a meaningful difference in our world,” Patterson said in a statement.

Rougeau has been the BC Law School dean since 2011, and his research and work has focused on Christian identity and citizenship and public policy. He was previously a law professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Notre Dame.

At BC Law School, Rougeau is credited for helping recruit a more diverse student body and expanding programs for students internationally. Last year, Rougeau was named the inaugural director of the new Boston College Forum on Racial Justice in America.

“Our current moment in history cries out for the mission-driven education that Holy Cross provides, and I am very excited about what this community can accomplish in the years ahead,” Rougeau said in a statement.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.