The Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy is looking for a new leader after founder and director Patrick Deneen announced that he will resign from the university at the end of the semester.

Deneen, who will join the faculty at the University Notre Dame next year, expressed concerns about the university’s ability to find a replacement to lead the program.

According to Chester Gillis, dean of the College, the university expects to find a new director from within the current faculty.

“Georgetown affirms its commitment to continuing the work of the forum and will shortly confirm and announce the appointment of an interim director of the forum,” he wrote in an email. “Permanent leadership will likely emerge following internal discussion among academic leaders and faculty and perhaps in the context of current faculty searches.”

The Tocqueville Forum was founded in 2006 to study the Western philosophical and religious roots of the United States. It holds regular speaker events, which are open to the public, and reading groups for its over 70 student fellows. The forum also publishes an academic journal, Utraque Unum, sponsors courses and offers post-graduate fellowships.

Student fellows of the program voiced concerns that it will be difficult to find a new director who shares Deneen’s passion for the forum and who sees higher education in the same unique light he does.

“I think it will be difficult for someone to follow in his footsteps because he’s left such an impression,” Peter Prindiville (SFS ’14), a student fellow in the forum, said.

Deneen cited a lack of support for the forum among faculty and administrators as a factor in his decision to leave Georgetown.

“[Over] the years, it has been increasingly evident to me that I have exceedingly few allies and friends elsewhere on the faculty to join me in [the forum] and dim prospects that the trajectory of faculty hiring will change,” he wrote in an email to select students and in a post on his personal blog. “I have felt isolated from the heart of the institution where I have devoted so many of my hours and my passion.”

Gillis, however, described the Tocqueville Forum as one of the university’s integral programs.

“The forum has added significantly to the vibrancy and diversity of perspectives that make up the intellectual life of our university,” he wrote.

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