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July, 2019

Father O'Connell

I have been traveling extensively in the past month and I am so happy to return home and take a break from “planes, trains and automobiles,” at least for a week or so. In the midst of these adventures, Vice President for Development Bob Sullivan and I had a lovely evening with a group of alumni in New York City on Oct. 22. In addition to a great dinner at the University Club on Fifth Avenue, Bob and I heard wonderful stories of the “good old days” at CUA. The alumni donors who had gathered also shared some suggestions regarding career services, alumni mentoring and venues for future events. Throughout that week, we also visited with other alumni donors. It was a good week.

As I reported in last month’s column, our enrollment figures are up this year for both undergraduate and graduate studies. I now have official figures for 2007–2008 to share. Total enrollment this year is 6,440, up from 6,148 last year. Our undergraduate enrollment increased from 3,123 to 3,326. Graduate enrollment is up from 3,025 to 3,114. I am optimistic that, with the strategy we are implementing, managed growth in our graduate and undergraduate enrollment will continue.

Thankfully, from the standpoint of safety and security, thus far we have had a rather uneventful semester on campus. I pray that it stays that way. One of the best ways to maintain a safe environment is to prepare for the unexpected. With that in mind, I called an Oct. 30 meeting of the university’s Emergency Council — about 20 key decision makers on campus —  to review our emergency preparedness plan and to discuss several emergency scenarios  — from dangerous criminal activity on campus to a pandemic outbreak, like bird flu. I was glad to see that we have been thinking hard about these scenarios and have plans in place ready to implement should the need arise.

Reference to this meeting of top CUA administrators provides me with a welcome excuse to remind all of you, once again, of the need to do your part to be prepared for an emergency. One important way is to sign up for instant text messaging through the “Alert DC” system established by the D.C. government’s Department of Homeland Security. It’s fast and it’s simple. Just go to .

The first part of November will bring the long-awaited Opus Prize presentations to campus. We look forward to welcoming three outstanding humanitarians (see 
"Be Inspired!" in this issue of Inside). Two of them will leave with $100,000 each earmarked for their organization; one will return home with $1 million. I hope that all of you will take the opportunity to attend and participate in a dialogue with the three finalists on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at noon. We’re hoping for a very strong turnout in the Pryz  — hundreds of boxed lunches will be available for students, faculty, staff and alumni who come to this forum.

Christine Hunkele (left) accepts donations for Penny Wars, which raised money to ship T-shirts to Africa.

The culminating events will occur two days later, on Nov. 8, with a 4:30 p.m. Mass in St. Vincent’s Chapel (to which all are invited) and a dinner and awards ceremony afterwards in the Pryz. The latter is by invitation only because of the large number of people, from CUA and elsewhere, who would be interested in attending. As of the third week of October, all of the seats in the Pryz Great Room for the awards ceremony were filled: we will have more than 350 guests, about half of whom will be CUA students. I am grateful to Victor Nakas, associate vice president for public affairs, and Suzanne McCarthy, coordinator of presidential events, for all their hard work to create a memorable week of events. Likewise, I thank the members of the Opus Prize Committee that Victor led for all their tireless efforts and good advice.

I think much good has come out of this Opus Prize process: We have reinforced the ever-present theme of service that is integral to our Catholic identity through our programming on campus this semester (specifically the documentary film series on human dignity arranged by student life, campus ministry and faculty from three CUA schools) and by lifting up the example of those among us who take the initiative to give selflessly, like the professor who launched a drive to collect thousands of T-shirts for needy young people he had met in Africa and the student who was inspired by his actions to raise hundreds of dollars to get the T-shirts shipped to Africa. These are things that gladden the heart.

Our hearts will be further gladdened a month after the Opus Prize ceremony. On Friday, Dec. 7, we will be treated to our annual Christmas Concert for Charity, a joint enterprise between CUA and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. This year Providence Hospital’s Perry Family Health Center will be the beneficiary of the charitable giving. I’m glad we can help this worthy neighborhood institution and I hope you will come to the concert, not only to hear some beautiful music but also to support this worthy institution. Details on the Christmas concert will follow at a later date.

As you “save the date” of the Christmas concert, please also note the following additions and changes to the university calendar:

  • Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2008: President’s Holiday (university closed except for essential services)
  • Thursday, Jan. 3, 2008: Staff In-Service Day (9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: details to be announced)
  • Thursday, April 17, 2008: Founders’ Day (university closed except for essential services)

CUA's field hockey team has enjoyed a successful season.

CUA’s fall athletic teams have been thriving in the inaugural season of the Landmark Conference. The field hockey team is currently tied for first after defeating nationally ranked Juniata in conference play. The volleyball team has had an outstanding fall, losing only one conference match (to reigning national champion Juniata) and earning the second seed in the Landmark Conference tournament. On Nov. 3, we will induct five alums into the Athletic Hall of Fame: Betsy Laborde, Arthur “Scotty” Cranston, Douglas Eby, Ralph Fuccillo and William Holl. Each represents CUA’s outstanding former athletes and serves as an inspiration for our current student athletes. Congratulations to our current athletes and to our five new hall-of-famers for all their accomplishments!

We end this month with the annual national celebration of Thanksgiving. It is fitting that I end this letter with an expression of my own personal gratitude, as president, for all the blessings this university receives through you and your work here. Thank you one and all, and may God bless you and your loved ones.

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Last Revised 01-Feb-08 10:16 AM.