Last month’s column for Inside CUA was published a few days before the Aug. 30 Mass of the Holy Spirit, celebrated by Most Rev. Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington and chancellor of our university. I think those who were there will agree with me that it was an impressive and inspirational way to begin the new academic year because of the enthusiastic participation of record numbers of students, faculty and staff. Once again, the Crypt Church of the National Shrine was filled to overflowing. The numbers have grown so steadily that next year we will be transferring the Mass to the Upper Church of the National Shrine. This is a testament to the strength of the spiritual life on campus.
I should also add that, following this year’s Mass, the community showed a spirit of a different kind by turning out in droves for the second annual university-wide picnic. It was gratifying to see so many students, faculty and staff congregate on the lawn of the Pryz for hot dogs and hamburgers. We also need more food next year!
|The second annual university picnic on Aug. 30 drew a significant portion of the CUA community.|
On Sept. 12, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees met on campus. One of its agenda items was to approve the financial audit of the university for the fiscal year that ended April 30, 2007. In the current regulatory environment, with increased public scrutiny on nonprofit organizations, CUA places high priority on providing transparent and accurate financial information to a variety of users. Our external auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, gave us an unqualified audit opinion, which is the highest standard for a financial statement audit. The auditors found no material control weaknesses and did not recommend any corrections to the financial statements that management prepared. The audit was completed quickly and smoothly due to the efforts of CUA’s finance division, particularly the general accounting and treasury services offices. The Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees reviewed the results of the fiscal year 2007 audit and recommended its approval to the Executive Committee, which did approve the audit on Sept. 12.
A positive audit of the university’s finances again this year confirms that CUA’s funds are being managed to the highest standards. Congratulations to Dr. Julie Englund, vice president of finance and administration, treasurer. The Office of Finance, and particularly the accounting staff headed by Controller Sheri Hardison, are also to be congratulated for the outstanding audit.
The university’s finances and strategies for increasing our financial resources are integral to discussions of the university’s future. In September, I devoted considerable time to the topic of the university’s future. During the Academic Senate’s Sept. 20 meeting, Provost James Brennan and I unveiled plans for creation of new master’s degree programs in the course of the next several years. Together with Dr. Michael Hendricks and a professional marketing consultant, we have identified new master’s degree programs that we currently possess the expertise and resources to offer and for which there is a demand in the surrounding region. As Dr. Brennan and I explained to the Senate, offering these new master’s programs will provide the university with a much-needed infusion of financial resources. Among other benefits, this will enable us to strengthen our doctoral programs by providing greater financial support to doctoral candidates and thereby make CUA more competitive in attracting the finest students. At the Senate meeting, we also announced an institutional goal to increase our annual research grant income from its current $18 million to $50 million within the next three years.
CUA’s approach to financing its future and its integrated strategy of enrollment growth were front-and-center topics at the annual Board of Trustees one-day retreat, which took place in Chicago on Sept. 25. Dr. Brennan, Dr. Englund, Dr. Hendricks and I made presentations on these subjects. I am happy to report that the board endorsed the steps that we outlined. As we flesh out details, I will share them with the CUA community.
While the senior administration of the university was in Chicago, we took the opportunity to meet with our local alumni. Our Office of Alumni Relations organized a reception in downtown Chicago on Sept. 25 that was attended by 70 alumni.
As I was returning from Chicago, I received news that a student at St. John’s University in New York had been arrested for carrying a rifle to campus. Thank goodness, before anyone could be hurt he was intercepted by a campus public safety officer, the university was locked down and the campus community was alerted via their emergency messaging system. That incident and a recent shooting on the campus of Delaware State University serve as reminders of the necessity for all of us to remain prepared in case an emergency occurs. One way all of us can do that is by signing up for instant text messaging through the “Alert DC” system established by the D.C. government’s Department of Homeland Security. Faculty, staff, students and others who sign up will receive urgent e-mails or text messages to their cell phone, Blackberry or other mobile device. In order to be eligible to receive text messages that would be employed to alert members of the CUA community of imminent danger, you must take the initiative yourself to sign up at https://textalert.ema.dc.gov/. I am happy to report that as of mid-September more than 1,300 CUA community members had signed up for Alert DC since we inaugurated the campaign at the beginning of the semester, but we can and we should triple and quadruple that number. If you haven’t signed up yet, please take a moment to do so. If you have, urge your fellow students, faculty members and staff members to follow your example.
|CUA community members are encouraged to sign up for the text message alert system.|
In early October, we will finalize our official enrollment figures for the fall 2007 semester. We wait until then to take into account all late registrants as well as those who decide to withdraw. I can tell you that, as of the end of September, our undergraduate enrollment is more than 3,300, an improvement of about 200 over last year. Our total graduate enrollment is more than 3,050, a modest improvement over last year.
In last month’s column I wrote about the $1 million Opus Prize that will be awarded for humanitarian service on our campus on Thursday, Nov. 8. I also mentioned that there would be a series of educational events related to the prize that would take place in October and the first week of November. In partnership with academic departments, the Division of Student Life and the Opus Prize committee that I formed have organized a documentary film series for our students on the theme of service and human dignity that will occur on three consecutive Wednesdays in October. I urge you to read more about it and other Opus-related events here.
A series of events related to the Opus Prize will take place on campus.
As the summer fades into memory and the fall comes upon us, please be assured of my support, best wishes and prayers for continued success.
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