As if we needed any reminder, the brief heat wave that we experienced in the final week of April signaled the approaching end of the semester and the promise of summer just around the corner. I am happy to report that we are finishing the semester on the right note.
||Admitted students and their families attend Odyssey Day.|
On April 17, Odyssey Day, we welcomed a record number of admitted students and their parents. Thanks to the hard work of so many people in so many different offices and departments of the university — from the academic side to admissions to facilities, maintenance, custodial, public safety (and I could go on and on) — we were able to show off our great programs, welcoming community and beautiful campus to the best possible effect. And the good Lord smiled on us that day by providing picture-perfect weather. It was also gratifying to see the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine filled with worshipers as we celebrated the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to CUA.
More people than I could possibly list deserve thanks for the success of Odyssey Day. It’s truly a community effort. Special thanks are in order to Vice President for Enrollment Management W. Michael Hendricks and Dean of Admissions Christine Mica. The day is the fruit of months of labor by them and their staff. Based on the turnout April 17 and the deposits that we’ve received thus far, I am optimistic about fall enrollments.
Another very positive event in April was the American Cardinals Dinner in Houston. It was a milestone event — the 20th such fundraiser for CUA scholarships — and we celebrated it in grand style. More than 100 clergy joined eight U.S. cardinals in concelebrating the Mass in the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston. The co-cathedral was full; the liturgy presided over by our host, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, was spectacular. Cardinal DiNardo and his staff in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston pulled out all the stops to make the dinner and the Mass that preceded it a success. And media interest in the event was quite high, with five TV stations covering the Mass.
|Before the start of the American Cardinals Dinner, Father O'Connell introduces the cardinals to members of the CUA class of 2009 who volunteered at the event.
That evening more than 700 guests attended the dinner at the Hyatt Regency Houston and CUA raised nearly $1.4 million. All of the proceeds of the dinner will go for scholarships. In addition, Cardinal DiNardo afforded Dr. James Brennan, CUA provost, Dr. Hendricks and me the opportunity to meet with principals and counselors of Catholic schools in the archdiocese, so that we could do some recruiting of future students. So, on many levels, the day’s events were an unqualified success. Frank Persico, vice president for university relations, and Suzanne McCarthy, assistant vice president, both of my office, labored countless hours spearheading the university’s efforts. The 21st American Cardinals Dinner will be held in Atlanta, which, as you may know, has one of the fastest-growing Catholic dioceses in the nation.
When you read this column, the annual presentation of faculty awards for research and scholarship will already have occurred (on April 30). I want to congratulate all the awardees and take a moment to recognize our faculty. Even after 11 years as president of Catholic University, I continue to be impressed by the consistently high level of teaching, scholarship and research that takes place on our campus and by the remarkable dedication to their students and our university mission that many of our faculty consistently demonstrate. Thank you one and all!
In May we look forward to two commencements. At the main commencement on May 16 our speaker will be Raymond W. Kelly, police commissioner of New York City and a distinguished public servant. On May 22, our graduating law students will hear an address by well-known political commentator Mark Shields. Both men will receive honorary degrees. On May 16 we will also bestow an honorary degree upon Prof. Karol Musiol, the rector of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland, an institution with which CUA’s law school has enjoyed a very close and fruitful academic partnership. That same day the CUA Alumni Association’s Gibbons Medal will be awarded to famed Irish tenor Ronan Tynan.
We will close out the month with a daylong May 28 conference to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See. CUA will co-host this conference with the Apostolic Nunciature and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcoming distinguished speakers from academia, the Catholic Church and the diplomatic world. In the late afternoon, shortly after that symposium ends, CUA’s Center for Law, Philosophy and Culture at the Columbus School of Law will host what promises to be a very interesting public exchange of views at the National Press Club on the topic “A Civil Discussion: The Obama Administration and the Sanctity of Human Life: Is There a Common Ground on Life Issues? What is the Right Response by ‘Pro-Life’ Citizens?” Watch the CUA Web site for details.
I hope all of you will be sure to take the time during the summer to recharge your batteries so that when the cycle begins anew in August, we will do what it is we do best with a renewed sense of purpose. May God watch over and protect you all during these summer months.