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March 1, 2011

 
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl with the coffin of Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P.
I would like to report to you on two important processes under way at the University. The Strategic Planning process which I mentioned in my December letter has been moving along on schedule. Provost James Brennan and Vice President Cathy Wood, who co-chair the Strategic Planning steering committee, report that more than 550 people participated in the 14 open sessions held to elicit faculty, staff, and student feedback. I was very glad to learn of such strong interest by the community, and am grateful to the participants and the organizers of these events for ensuring that the process for developing a new strategic plan has been collaborative and transparent.

On February 23 we held a kickoff meeting with Ayers Saint Gross, the firm that Catholic University has retained to assist with the development of a new master plan, which we are required to submit to the District of Columbia government in 2012.  Like the strategic plan, the master plan plots the University’s course for the next 10 years. In fact the two processes — one for the academic development of the University and the other for the physical development of facilities and property  —  are inextricably linked, and from this point on will occur in close coordination with one another.

I also want to call your attention to three seemingly disparate events that occurred in February. There is a common thread that runs through them.

The first event (in reverse chronological order) was the February 25 Mass of Christian Burial for Rev. Kurt Pritzl, O.P., Dean of our School of Philosophy. The Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was packed with an overflow crowd of about 900 students, faculty, staff, and alumni who came not only to pay their respects, but to return the affection they had received from this extraordinary priest, scholar, and teacher. Rev. Edward Gorman, O.P., gave a moving eulogy about his friend.  He spoke of Father Pritzl’s remarkable gift for befriending others and his passion for the truth centered around Jesus Christ.

Rev. James Martin, S.J., speaks on "Joy and the Spiritual Life" at CUA on Tap.

 
The second event occurred in Caldwell Auditorium on February 17 at Campus Ministry’s CUA on Tap, a monthly program for upperclassmen that presents a theological topic. Rev. James Martin, S.J., a popular author of Catholic books and a well known media commentator, was invited to speak on “Joy and the Spiritual Life.”  Not for nothing has he appeared multiple times on Comedy Central’s TV show The Colbert Report to match wits with the host. Father Martin’s talk was terrific and he was very funny. Equally impressive to me was the turnout — more than 300 students — and the reaction Father Martin himself had to his visit. Several days later, he tweeted the following message to his followers: “One of the most enjoyable nights of my life. And what great students!”
 
The third event was on February 10. I hosted the service awards dinner for employees who are marking their 10- and 20-year anniversaries of service at CUA. At the end of the dinner honoring nearly 60 employees I made a few brief remarks, which in my mind tie these three seemingly unrelated events together. The gist of what I said is this: it takes a very special place to draw talented and dedicated employees and to retain them for a decade or more, especially in this day and age when switching employers every few years has become the norm. There is such a strong sense of community here, which we saw on display at Father Pritzl’s farewell. But it’s more than a spirit of camaraderie that suffuses our campus.  People who work here identify with the institution and its values. Surely our students sense it. It’s one of the reasons they come here in the first place, and then themselves become a part of the culture I am describing. Though it may sound a bit self-serving for us to say this about ourselves as an institution, nevertheless I think it’s worthwhile to recognize who and what we are. As the saying goes, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” From my perspective as a relative newcomer, it is true. We do believe in the University’s mission and we do seek to live it.

 
President Garvey speaks at a dinner for employees who are marking their 10- and 20-year anniversaries of service at CUA.
In order for us to sustain this commitment we need to work at modeling the values embodied in our mission. One special way we have chosen to do that this academic year is through the celebration of the four cardinal virtues. This will culminate with a ceremony on April 13 when we will present the Cardinal Medal for Fortitude to faculty, staff, and students who have exemplified that virtue. Last month we invited all of you to nominate worthy candidates for the medal.  The nominations closed on February 18. Let me share the results with you. We received 86 nominations; 49 individuals were nominated (some by more than one person). The breakdown of nominees was as follows: 9 faculty, 12 staff, and 28 students. I am very pleased by the success of this initiative and thank everyone who participated in the process. There will be more news about the awards ceremony in the weeks to come.

As you receive this issue of Inside CUA, our students are preparing for Spring Break and the campus is for the beginning of Lent. Let us pray that both events prepare us well for the next few months — Spring Break, for the work that remains before the end of the academic year; and Lent, for the celebration of Easter.



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Last Revised 01-Mar-11 09:00 AM.