Congratulations to Clifford Humphrey, Fellow of the Program on the Constitution and Catholic Social Doctrine for recently accepting the role of director of Troy University’s Institute for Leadership Development.
The IHE’s summer intern, Noah Sell, interviewed Dr. Humphrey’s about his exciting new position and his involvement with the IHE’s Program on the Constitution and Catholic Social Doctrine.
1. Could you tell me a bit about yourself, your educational background, and area of focus?
My family is from Warm Springs, Georgia. My parents homeschooled my two brothers and me. I attended Palm Beach Atlantic University for undergrad and had the opportunity to take a class by Dr. Linda Raeder, who studied under Claes Ryn in graduate school at CUA. She first introduced me to the study of political philosophy, and it has stuck with me ever since. After spending a few years trying to learn the trade of woodworking while living in NYC and taking ancient language classes at Columbia University in the evenings, I decided to try my hand at teaching. I moved to Pensacola, FL and taught Latin, Greek, literature, philosophy, and rhetoric at a classical high school for a few years, and then I spent a year teaching English in Hunan, China before beginning graduate studies at the University of Dallas. I studied politics for one year as a master’s student, and then spent the next six years completing a PhD at Hillsdale College in politics. My research focused on a lesser-known figure from the founding, John Taylor of Caroline, particularly his understanding of federalism as both an essential and useful component of the American regime for preserving liberty.
I was set to graduate in May, 2020, so I spent the winter of 2019-2020 sending out lots of applications for academic positions across the country. In March of 2020, the entire world shut down, and I never even heard back from the vast majority of programs I had applied to. Hillsdale was determined to hold a graduation ceremony in 2020, so in June I gathered my diploma on an outside stage with a mask on, a story my grandchildren will probably never believe. Over the summer, a mutual friend put me in touch with Emmett McGroarty, and we discovered that we had overlapping research interests. Emmett suggested we collaborate and focus on bringing together constitutional federalism and Catholic social thought, particularly the principle of subsidiarity, and the program was born.
2. What has been your role in The Constitution and Catholic Social Doctrine Program and the IHE in general?
Unfortunately, because of Covid, it did not make sense for me to try to move to D.C. to be on campus, so I had planned to do my work remotely from Hillsdale, Michigan. In August of 2020, I was invited to move to Raleigh, NC to help launch a new college, Thales College. Emmett and IHE were flexible enough to allow me to be able to do both positions part-time. That flexibility allowed me to gain work experience in two very different ways over the following year, maximizing my prospects for finding employment after the postdoc finished, and set me up perfectly for my new role at Troy University. My role with the CCSD program and IHE was limited by my being part-time and by my working remotely, but the work I got to do was immensely rewarding. Emmett and I collaborated on a number of articles together, shared ideas regularly, and were able to organize a colloquium in Dallas, TX in January, 2022 on the administrative state and the nature of individual liberty. The Institute for Humane Studies partnered with us to put that colloquium on, and I believe it was an immense success, evidenced by the fact that from it arose a working group that meets regularly via Zoom to discuss practical proposals for limiting the constitutional overreach of administrative agencies.
3. Is there anything you have done with The Constitution and Catholic Social Doctrine Program which you are particularly proud of or are excited to be working on?
I’m proud of all the work we’ve done, but I’m probably most proud of simpy establishing this program within the IHE, and I hope that other young scholars will follow in my place and continue the work. Especially given CUA’s location in Washington, D.C., I think The Constitution and Catholic Society Doctrine Program is an especially important one that I hope CUA will continue to fund and develop into the future.
4. What is the Institute for Civic and Global Leadership at Troy University?
The Leadership Institute at Troy University is a program that has existed for some time at Troy and has focused on teaching the concept of leadership to undergraduates. I was hired to help add a civics education component to the Leadership Institute and to maximize benefits from a partnership that Troy recently formed with The American Village, an organization that has built several historical buildings of importance to American history, complete with historical interpreters to bring history to life. We hope to bring together the expertise of Troy and the infrastructure of the American Village to advance civics education in the state of Alabama.