The Catholic University of America

Inside CUA Nameplate

From the President's Desk


  Monroe Street Market
  Construction continues on Monroe Street Market.

Welcome back. I hope your summer was relaxing and enjoyable. I am delighted to have you back on campus, and looking forward to another year of working together.

You might recall that in my last column of the 2011-2012 academic year for Inside CUA, I noted that the D.C. Zoning Commission had just approved our 15-year Master Plan, and that we were awaiting final approval by our Board of Trustees. We successfully passed that milestone in June.

I have already communicated with members of the University community about another noteworthy change we made over the summer – an administrative reorganization aimed at improving the undergraduate experience, increasing student retention, and better managing the day-to-day operations of the University, particularly as they affect our students.

A third important development since the end of the spring semester was the University’s May 21 decision to join a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The suit contests the legality of HHS regulations that order us to provide insurance coverage for “preventive care” services like contraception, abortifacient drugs, and sterilizations. Many other Catholic entities (such as the Archdioceses of New York and Washington, the University of Notre Dame) also filed suit that day. The matter is before the courts now and we pray for a just outcome that won’t force us to violate our consciences.

Over the summer we made improvements to the University’s infrastructure. We renovated several classrooms. We repaved the parking lots at Pangborn and O’Boyle Halls. And, consistent with our track record in environmental innovation, we installed a new green roof on Aquinas Hall and added solar panels to Pangborn Hall and the parking lot at O’Boyle. We believe these additions to our existing “green” infrastructure make us the largest solar power installation in the District of Columbia.

Meanwhile, the development of Monroe Street Market continues. You can get a sense of the progress by strolling past the site or following the blog published by the Bozzuto Group at

One piece of exciting news about Monroe Street Market relates to our bookstore. We recently signed a 10-year contract with Barnes & Noble College to take over the operation of our campus bookstore at the end of September. In 18-24 months we will move the bookstore across Michigan Ave. to Monroe Street Market, where it will be located in a Barnes & Noble College super store.

Once we reclaim the territory the bookstore occupies in the Pryz, we hope to create a gathering space for students, faculty, and staff (tentatively called “Murphy’s”) that will provide a pub-like atmosphere, similar to the Ratt that once existed in what is now Father O’Connell Hall.

In the coming years implementation of our Strategic Plan and Master Plan will be at the top of our list of priorities. As you know, promoting the distinctive Catholic culture of our University is the first strategic goal of the Strategic Plan. Promoting our Catholic culture is a theme I want to underscore this academic year. It’s a propitious time to do so, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the flap over the HHS mandate has caused us to reflect on our distinctiveness as a Catholic institution, and to articulate and defend the principles on which we were founded both to our own team and to those who oppose us. There’s nothing like adversity to concentrate the mind.

For another, we have a series of events coming up that will provide an opportunity to reflect on some aspect of our Catholic culture in an academic setting. In September there are three worth noting. On September 12 we will sponsor a conference with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services entitled “International Religious Freedom: An Imperative for Peace and the Common Good.” (This event will be by invitation only.) The next day Profs. Mark Rienzi and Robert Destro, both from the Columbus School of Law, along with our University Chancellor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, will take part in a symposium on “Catholic Perspectives on Religious Liberty,” at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

From September 26-29 our School of Theology and Religious Studies will host a conference celebrating the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, “Reform and Renewal: Vatican II after Fifty Years.” Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will deliver the keynote address.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò chats with two CUA students and President Garvey at the American Cardinals Dinner in Chicago on April 27.

I would like to close by urging everyone to participate in our annual Mass of the Holy Spirit on Thursday, August 30, at 12:10 p.m. in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Cardinal Wuerl will be the celebrant and homilist. For the third consecutive year the Mass will be broadcast nationwide on The Eternal Word Television Network. The National Catholic Educational Association, which represents Catholic elementary and high schools throughout the country, will again urge its members to watch the broadcast. So if you come to the Mass, your young nephew or niece attending Catholic school may be watching the broadcast from their classroom or auditorium and catch a glimpse of you praying. In January 2013, when we and the Dominican House of Studies co-host the University Mass on the Patronal Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, EWTN will broadcast that for the first time as well.

At the Mass of the Holy Spirit this week we will be joined by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States. He will also come to the picnic as our guest. I hope after Mass you’ll join the festivities and take the opportunity to say hello to Archbishop Viganò.