I begin my column with some sadness, marking the recent deaths of three of our beloved colleagues: Dr. Eugene Kennedy, professor emeritus of biology and former dean of the School of Arts and Sciences; Monsignor Robert Paul Mohan, professor emeritus of the School of Philosophy; and Dr. Charles “Chick” Montrose, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physics in the School of Arts and Sciences. All three served our university and countless numbers of its students in such extraordinary ways and for so many years. Their dedication to CUA was always so evident and they all shall be greatly missed. May they rest in the Lord’s peace.
Enrollment. Spring undergraduate enrollment numbers remain strong based on the large fall enrollment. Our graduate enrollment numbers have exceeded the projected budget and law school enrollment is down slightly, consistent with the decrease in the size of the entering fall class.
Last August I set as a goal for CUA to exceed 3,500 freshman applications for the 2007-08 academic year. To date, we have received more than 4,000 freshman applications (the highest ever) compared to 2,550 applications at this time last year. We are therefore projecting a final freshman application number between 4,500 and 4,800 and expect to enroll another all-time record freshman class in fall 2007. The undergraduate enrollment plan called for us to reach these application numbers in 2010, so we are making great progress toward our goal.
Construction. Apropos of this good news, we received word on Jan. 22 that the D.C. Zoning Commission approved 1) CUA’s application for the construction of Opus Hall; 2) CUA’s request to move the Facilities shed to make room for construction; and 3) CUA’s request to extend the time limit on continued occupancy of the residential campus trailers. The hearing began at 6:35 p.m. The commission invited CUA to stand on the record the university had already submitted, indicating it did not need to hear the full presentation. No one present voiced opposition. Two residents of the local community (ANC 5C) showed up to support the application, even though they had not been asked to do so. Craig Parker and Carl Petchik answered a few questions from the commissioners and at 6:50 p.m. they voted unanimously to approve the application in a bench decision. According to CUA’s zoning attorney, in her experience, this is the fastest time that the D.C. Zoning Commission has ever issued such an approval. Craig Parker has done a fantastic job and has demonstrated great abilities to move this process along! He and Carl Petchik are to be commended.
Athletics. And now a word about athletics. First, heartfelt congratulations to women’s cross country coach Joe Fisher and to field hockey coach Gia Cillizza for being named Capital Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in their respective sports last semester! This is the fourth time Joe has been named cross country coach of the year and Gia earned the distinction last semester of becoming the winningest coach in the women’s field hockey program. As I write this, Catholic University has already seen its share of athletic accomplishments in winter sports. The men’s and women’s basketball teams and the men’s and women’s swim teams all have winning records. On the women’s basketball team, senior guard Jackie DeBorger started off the New Year by becoming the school’s all-time three-point leader. Meanwhile, the men’s basketball team has won the two tournaments it participated in, taking the titles at the Wyndham Tip-Off Tournament and, more recently, the CUA Classic. Senior Scott Fumai earned MVP honors at the Wyndham tournament and Senior Patrick Dwyer was the CUA Classic MVP for the second straight year. Both DeBorger and Dwyer recently joined the CUA 1,000 Point Club. I’m told the CUA swim teams have numerous young athletes rated highly in the conference and will contend for top honors at the championship. It’s good to see athletics thriving at CUA.
Provost Search. We have completed our provost search and I have appointed Dr. James Brennan, provost of Towson University in Maryland, as the next provost and chief academic officer of Catholic University. I gave the three finalists broad exposure to the university. Three dozen CUA employees formally evaluated the slate of candidates in writing. I met with the deans and vice presidents to hear their assessments. The faculty search committee members submitted their views and we carefully conducted all the necessary references checks. The Board of Trustees confirmed my decision, as required by the university bylaws.
Some have asked how candidates were selected. In June and September 2006, I posted a position description and announced the provost vacancy in higher education publications and newspapers in major cities in the United States. More than 40 candidates were nominated or applied and I accepted 36 of them for review. The vice presidents and two academic deans served as the “search screening committee.” They reduced the list to eight or so. With the vice presidents, I then identified four viable candidates. I met with each of them for approximately three hours prior to inviting them to campus. One candidate subsequently withdrew, leaving three for interviews. I then established a faculty “search interview” committee. The rest is, as they say, “history.”
CUA's New Tagline. On January 31, during half-time of the CUA men’s basketball game at the DuFour Center, we announced the university’s new tagline. We turned to one of the university’s most important constituencies — our students — to come up with a phrase to replace “Do it all. Discover excellence. Experience success.” In response to a contest we began last November, more than 530 students participated, of whom 374 were undergraduates. I was gratified by the excellent response from our students.
An effective tagline should capture in a pithy way an institution’s unique identity. After much careful consideration of the entries, I decided to give the $1,000 award to senior Janelle Salamon. Thanks to Janelle, CUA’s new tagline will be “Reason. Faith. Service.” I think it captures in a wonderful way CUA’s unique mission and history, and describes not only what Catholic University is but also what it aspires to be and to do. In the course of the next few months, we will be incorporating “Reason. Faith. Service.” in all of our CUA publications. It’s not something we can do overnight, however, because of the steady flow of publications and ads in the pipeline and because we don’t want our new tagline to compete with our old one.
Development. Fundraising revenue exceeds last year’s grand total to date by about $400,000. I’ll be heading south in February to visit potential donors. I am doing a full court press in our fundraising efforts this semester.
As you know, one longstanding motto that has described Catholic University’s mission has been the phrase “In Service to Church and Nation.” In 2007 we will underscore our commitment to service in a very special and exciting way. Last year I accepted an invitation from the U.S.-based Opus Prize Foundation for CUA to host the 2007 Opus Prize selection process and awards ceremony. The Opus Prize is a $1 million gift awarded to an organization or an individual whose faith-based entrepreneurial leadership helps people in need transform their lives. There are two major purposes for the prize: 1) to recognize and assist “unsung humanitarian heroes” of any faith affiliation and 2) to inspire young people to lives of service. To achieve these purposes, the Opus Prize Foundation has been partnering with a different host university each year since 2004.
In fall 2006 I invited 20 individuals from the United States and abroad with deep knowledge of humanitarian work to nominate up to two worthy candidates for the Opus Prize. We have already begun to receive their nominations and a jury will meet in March to select four finalists, one of whom will be awarded $1 million and two of whom will receive $100,000 each.
Last summer I invited 10 members of the CUA community — faculty, staff and administrators — to constitute an administrative committee for this prize process. They have been hard at work since then helping me to plan all the steps in this process. One of the many things they have done is to formulate a theme for the 2007 Opus Prize, “Creating a moral society through social justice and community development.” At another time, I will share more details about the Opus Prize process. Suffice it to say for now that we hope to make this prize and the theme of service that is at its core as meaningful for our student population as possible. The prize will be awarded at a dinner on campus in early November and we expect to create opportunities for the three awardees to meet with our students, faculty and staff. Other than the donation of time, we will enjoy this extraordinary experience at no cost to CUA.