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July, 2019

I would like to begin my column by returning to two topics that I addressed in last month’s Inside CUA. The first is the one-day symposium on St. Paul that was sponsored by the School of Theology and Religious Studies and held in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center on March 20. Three of the four speakers that day were members of the school’s faculty. I was able to attend part of the symposium and heard from others who attended the entire symposium that the presentations were superb! Equally gratifying was the attendance — more than 200 were there throughout the daylong event. It’s wonderful to see the university faculty sharing their special area of expertise with fellow academics and interested observers in such a public forum. I’ve been discussing with Monsignor Kevin Irwin, dean of theology and religious studies, the possibility of organizing a conference on the Year of the Priest next fall, as Pope Benedict XVI has given 2009–2010 that designation.

The second topic I referred to last month was the competition in which our architecture and planning students engaged to design the interior mosaic of the main dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There were four groups of finalists. Not surprisingly, their submissions were all interesting and attractive and demonstrated a great deal of creative effort. In short, our students did us proud once again! The real surprise was that the first-place winners announced on March 23 were two freshmen, Corey August and Philip Goolkasian! All of the other finalists were graduate students. I think this speaks volumes about the quality of our architecture and planning school and about the quality of students — undergraduate and graduate — that it has been attracting.

Jim Dinegar, B.A. 1982, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and Father O'Connell at the CUA alumni networking event at the new Capitol Visitor Center.

On Monday of this week, I attended a CUA alumni networking event at the new Capitol Visitor Center. More than 300 people, including many of our current students and young alumni, attended this event! It was a smashing success and evidence that we can engage our alumni in meaningful ways. My thanks to Marion Gosney, director of the alumni office, and all her staff for putting this together.

The Board of Trustees met for its mid-March meeting. As it normally does during its spring session, the board voted on the coming fiscal year’s budget.  The 2009–10 budget, which includes funding for the First Year Experience, was approved unanimously. This year, unlike previous years, we set aside extra time to provide the entire board with a detailed presentation of how the university has responded and will continue to respond to the national economic crisis. Julie Englund, outgoing VP for finance and treasurer, and Cathy Wood, incoming VP for finance and treasurer, very ably handled this presentation. (The same presentation was also delivered to all the members of the university’s Administrative Council, composed of deans and other key administrators, on March 26.)

The other item of interest from the meeting of the Board of Trustees was its approval of a name change for one of our 12 schools. As of March 17, the name of Metropolitan College has changed to the Metropolitan School of Professional Studies. This name change is emblematic of the increased prominence that this school has achieved in recent years under the leadership of Dean Sara Thompson. During that time the school has expanded to include master’s programs, namely the Master of Arts in Human Resource Management and the Master of Science in Management. We anticipate that while the school will continue to be a magnet for adult learners seeking their bachelor’s degrees, its future growth will be in the area of professional studies. Like the introduction of the First Year Experience, increasing the number of part-time professional master’s degree programs is a core action item articulated in the university’s Strategic Plan.

 
Students and parents at last year's Odyssey Day

CUA’s winter sports teams enjoyed another season of success on the basketball court, in the pool, and on the track.  The men’s basketball team finished the season 18-10 with sophomore Jason Banzhaf leading the Landmark Conference in scoring with 20.5 points per game. On the women’s basketball side, Brianna Peterson led the conference with 21.8 points per game. Also, Kelly Carioto and Michael Doster earned individual titles at the Landmark Conference indoor track championships. In the pool, Lisa Brooks broke two school records and was the first CUA female swimmer since 1995 to qualify for the Division III National Championship Meet. She was just 4/10 of a second shy of qualifying for the finals in the 100-yard breaststroke at the national championship meet in Minneapolis.

The month of April brings with it many special events. Most important, of course, is the Easter season and the celebration of the risen Lord on April 12! Every year in April we sponsor Odyssey Day, our special day to host newly admitted students. This year it falls on April 17, the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to CUA. We will mark that glorious occasion in the university’s history with a 12:10 p.m. Mass in the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine. I cordially invite everyone at CUA to participate and hope that many of you will be able to come. We are also inviting admitted students and their parents to join us so that they can get a better sense of what makes CUA such a special place.

On Odyssey Day, the university will host a Mass commemorating the anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to campus

Speaking of admitted students, we anticipate about 600 of them on campus that day, along with their parents. Every year, our faculty, students and staff do a terrific job welcoming guests to CUA on Odyssey Day. This year, as never before, we need to make a special effort to show our true, best selves to our guests. Many of the admitted students and their parents have difficult decisions to make, given the tough economic realities that our nation is facing. Let’s help them make the appropriate choice.

A couple of other noteworthy events will take place during the third full week of April. On April 22, which is Earth Day, we’ll be planting several dozen trees in the area around the CUA Mall. You’ll be hearing more about this in the days to come. It will make our beautiful campus even more so! Another kind of green will be our focus on April 24: The 20th American Cardinals Dinner will be held in Houston to raise money for scholarship assistance for students at CUA.

This year has not been the easiest one for most of us. I am so grateful to all of you for your generous service to the university community. The celebration of Easter and the faith we keep as a result of the Lord’s triumph over death is an affirmation of Jesus’ encouraging words in John’s Gospel: “In the world you will have troubles, but take courage: I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33), and in another place, “Behold, I am with you always” (Matthew 28: 20). Have a blessed Holy Week and an Easter season filled with joy!




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