Ryan, James Hugh
RYAN, JAMES HUGH
Bishop, educator; b. Indianapolis, Ind., Dec. 15, 1886; d. Omaha, Nebr., Nov. 23, 1947. He was the son of John Marshall Ryan, of Indiana, and Brigid (Rogers) Ryan, a native of County Cavan, Ireland. After having finished high school in Indianapolis, he went to Holy Ghost College (later Duquesne University), Pittsburgh, Pa. He then attended Mt. St. Mary's Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio; North American College in Rome; Roman Academy (Ph.D. 1908); and the University of Propaganda (S.T.D. 1909). On June 5, 1909, he was ordained, by special dispensation because of his youth, at St. John Lateran in Rome. On his return to the U.S. he took up parish work but soon joined the faculty of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Terre Haute, Ind., where he was professor of psychology from 1911 to 1921. Early in 1920 he became president of the college. Shortly afterward he left that post to become executive secretary of the Department of Education of the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington, D.C. In 1927 Ryan was made a domestic prelate, and on Nov. 14, 1928, he was installed as rector of The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. On Oct. 25, 1933, he was consecrated titular bishop of the See of Modra.
As rector of Catholic University, Ryan was chiefly concerned with academic reorganization. He found an institution
that was patterned after the University of Louvain, Belgium, yet attempted to work with U.S. universities of quite different structure. He set policies intended to enhance the University's position in modern American scholarship. Despite strong opposition, he integrated the School of Sacred Sciences into the University and brought it under his authority. He decreed that only active scholars on the teaching staff should receive academic promotions. Indicative of his views was his early recognition of accrediting agencies, whose efforts to establish high academic standards were warmly supported by the University. Finances also constituted a major problem during Ryan's rectorship. He dropped the ambitious building program of his predecessor, Bp. Thomas shahan, and did much to put the University in sound financial condition before his departure in 1935.
Ryan was active as a public figure and a scholar. He was outspoken on controversial public subjects, opposing state medical services as "Hitlerized Medicine." He condemned too the American Medical Association's recognition of birth control, which he regarded as a counsel of gradual extinction. As an academician, he wrote on philosophy and medieval culture for leading periodicals and, in 1927, founded the New Scholasticism, which he edited for ten years. His publications include A Directory of Catholic Colleges and Schools (1921), A Catechism of Catholic Education (1922), An Introduction to Philosophy (1924), and The Encyclicals of Pius XI (1927). Ryan was also a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Catholic Educational Association, and the executive council of the Medieval Academy of America, of which he was a fellow.
Ryan remained at The Catholic University until Aug. 3, 1935, when he was appointed bishop of Omaha; he was formally installed Nov. 1, 1935, in St. Cecilia Cathedral. After ten years as bishop of the Diocese of Omaha, he was installed on Oct. 10, 1945, as Omaha's first metropolitan archbishop. Among the many honors he had received were: Knight Commander of the Crown of Italy, 1930; Grand Cordon of the Order of St. Sava, from the King of Yugoslavia, 1932; Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, 1934; Cavaliere Magistrale of the Order of Malta, 1935. The institutions of higher education that conferred honorary degrees upon him included Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wis.; National University of Ireland, Dublin; Manhattan College, New York; St. Bonaventure College (later University), St. Bonaventure, N.Y.; and The Catholic University of Milan.
[r. j. deferrari]