University appoints O. Carter Snead as Charles E. Rice Professor of Law

Author: Denise Wager

O Carter Snead

Notre Dame Law Professor O. Carter Snead has been appointed to be the Charles E. Rice Professor of Law, a new University Named Chair honoring the legacy of Charles E. Rice, a distinguished faculty member at Notre Dame Law School for over 45 years. Rice, an expert in natural law, taught constitutional law and jurisprudence and played a foundational role in the history of legal education at Notre Dame Law School.

In making the announcement, Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law G. Marcus Cole said, “This new endowed chair is a testament to Carter's exceptional scholarship, teaching, and dedication to our students, making him an excellent choice for this honor. It also embodies the values of both Charles Rice and Notre Dame Law School. We're profoundly thankful for this opportunity to honor Professor Rice's legacy and extend our gratitude to the generous benefactors who made this professorship a reality.”

Snead is one of the world’s leading experts on public bioethics – the governance of science, medicine, and biotechnology in the name of ethical goods. His research explores issues relating to neuroethics, enhancement, human embryo research, assisted reproduction, abortion, and end-of-life decision-making. He has served as the Director of the University of Notre Dame's de Nicola Center for Ethics & Culture since 2012.

"I had the great blessing of knowing Charlie Rice when I was just starting out as a junior faculty member at Notre Dame. He embodied the courageous and integrated life of a brilliant scholar, devoted teacher, loving father, loyal citizen, and faithful Catholic,” said Snead. “It is humbling to be the inaugural holder of the university endowed chair that bears his name, and I will strive each day to ensure that my research, teaching, and service are a worthy witness to his memory."

Snead is the author of "What It Means to be Human: The Case for the Body in Public Bioethics," published by Harvard University Press in October 2020. This book received wide recognition, with the Wall Street Journal naming it one of the "Ten Best Books of 2020." The New York Times also included it on their list of "Ten Books to Understand the Abortion Debate in the United States.” He is an elected Fellow of the Hastings Center (one of two in Notre Dame’s history), the oldest and most prestigious independent bioethics research institute in the world. He is also an appointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which advises Pope Francis on bioethical issues.

In addition to his scholarship and teaching, Snead has been a source of expertise on the legal and public policy dimensions of bioethical questions. He has provided guidance to officials in all three branches of the U.S. government and various intergovernmental bodies, making a substantial impact on the development of bioethical standards.

Prior to joining the Law School in 2005, Snead served as general counsel to The President’s Council on Bioethics, was the U.S. Permanent Observer to the Council of Europe’s Steering Committee on Bioethics, led the US delegation at UNESCO for multilateral negotiations on bioethics issues, and was appointed by UNESCO’s Director General to be a member of the International Bioethics Committee.

Charlie Rice
Charlie Rice

Rice began his tenure as a faculty member at Notre Dame Law School in 1969. His influence extended beyond the classroom. He served as a member of the Education Appeal Board of the U.S. Department of Education and served as a consultant to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and numerous Congressional committees on constitutional matters. In addition, he contributed to legal scholarship as an editor of the American Journal of Jurisprudence and as the author of several books. Rice, a devout Catholic, left a lasting impact that continues beyond his passing in 2015.

In 2020, the Law School’s Program on Church, State & Society launched the Rice-Hasson Distinguished Lecture Series to honor Rice, as well as Kevin J. “Seamus” Hasson and his wife, Mary Rice Hasson.

Originally published by Denise Wager at on October 27, 2023.