People You Should Know: Hugh McElwain

By: Melissa Ramirez

February 13, 2013

Confucius once wrote, “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Many of us dare to dream of such a job and the lucky ones are the people who find themselves in a career they know they were born to pursue. Professor Hugh McElwain of Dominican University is one of the lucky ones, but he didn’t always know that he would one day end up teaching and love doing it.

“Somewhere along the lines, I was told to teach,” McElwain admitted.

“I needed to continue studying and earn a doctorate.”

McElwain grew up with the Augustinians, a Catholic community and was taught the value of education from a young age. After completing a bachelor’s degree with majors in Philosophy and Latin at Stonebridge House of Studies in Lake Bluff, Illinois, he received a diploma in Philosophy at the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, Italy. McElwain then pursued and earned a licentiate in Theology and a doctorate in Theology from Marianum Pontifical Institute in Rome, Italy.

Prior to joining the Dominican family, he taught at Stonebridge Theologate, St. Mary of the Lake University in Mundelein, Illinois and also served as the dean and Professor of Theology for the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. In 1973, McElwain became a Professor of Theology at DU. Not only has he taught theology at Dominican for the past 40 years but he also served as the dean of the university’s Rosary College of Arts and Sciences from 1994 to 2002.

“I love sharing ideas,” McElwain revealed, connecting to the Dominican tradition of ‘What you have learned is to be shared.’

He often teaches from his many works including An Introduction to Teilhard de Chardin, St. Augustine’s Doctrine on the Just War, Theology of Limit and The Limits of Theology.

“The joy of teaching is seeing a student’s eyes light up, even if it’s only once a week.” He chuckled whole-heartedly,” McElwain said.

“One person makes all the difference.”

Besides teaching, McElwain also enjoys cheering on the Dominican Stars at home games, taking part in community events, attending performances and Sunday mass weekly at the university along with his wife.

Hugh expressed his love for the university and its staff stating, “This is our community. Everyone here is like extended family to us.”