The Catholic University of America

Inside CUA Nameplate

From the President's Desk


  A first-year student arrives at CUA during Orientation in August. Over the last two years, the University's undergraduate admit rate has dropped more than 20 percent.

October has arrived, and with it, the promise of beautiful early fall weather. This is one of the nicest times of year in Washington, D.C. I hope you enjoy it.

This month I want to share some good news relating to our efforts to improve enrollment. Last year we reduced our undergraduate admit rate from 87 percent to 75 percent. This year, as I announced to the faculty at the fall luncheon hosted by Dr. James Brennan on September 18, we have again reduced our admit rate, from 75 percent to 63 percent. The mean GPA and SAT scores of our freshman class have also gone up. The increase in selectivity that these numbers reflect is good for the University. It allows us to improve the quality, talent, and diversity of our student body. It should have follow-on effects on our retention rate. And over time it will improve our reputation, our applicant pool, and our financial soundness.

Dramatic improvements like the ones we are seeing in our admit rate are the fruit of good ideas and hard work. I would like to compliment Dr. Michael Hendricks, Christine Mica, and the staff in the Office of Enrollment Management for their hard work and good ideas. They implemented an admissions strategy that helps us to select students who really want to come here and who will fit well in our distinctive culture.

The second success we have seen in the area of enrollment concerns retention. We have improved the rate of undergraduate freshmen returning for their sophomore year by 5 percent, from 79.72 percent to 84.46 percent. We have also been able to reduce the percentage of students who leave after their sophomore year. An improvement in our retention rate is a sure sign that our students are happier with their experience at the University.

O'Connell Hall  
The renovated Great Hall of Father O'Connell Hall has been in use for some time. The building will undergo further renovations over the next 18 months.  

I am delighted by these improvements, and I think they will make us stronger in the long run.

I would like to share some news about Father O’Connell Hall that also has a bearing on University enrollment. We have decided that our next capital project will be the completion of Father O’Connell Hall within the next 18 months. As was decided some years ago, Father O’Connell Hall will be the home of Enrollment Management, Financial Aid, and the Registrar (in addition to Housing and Alumni Relations, which are already located there). It will be the place where we meet our prospective students and their parents, and we want to put our best foot forward with them. Opening Father O’Connell Hall will also free up other badly needed space on campus for academic programs that are crowded.

There are some upcoming events I want to highlight for you. On October 12-13 we welcome parents and siblings as part of our Family Weekend. We revived the tradition of Family Weekend a few years back. It has proven a tremendous success – a way for students to stay in touch with their families, for younger siblings to get a look at the campus, and for parents to check in. On October 26-28, we welcome alumni back for our Homecoming and Reunions weekend.

  Public Safety Control Room
  Two emergency drills to be conducted on campus in mid-October will enable the Department of Public Safety and others to gauge campus preparedness.

Every year we are required to conduct at least one campus-wide emergency drill. Given the terrible, though mercifully rare, outbursts of violence on college campuses that we have all read about in recent years, participating in drills is time well spent by every one of us. In mid-October we will conduct two drills. On October 16, sometime between 10 and 10:30 a.m., we will conduct a drill of the Emergency Notification System during which all students, faculty, and staff on campus will be instructed to follow instructions to either evacuate or shelter in place. On October 18 we will take part in the Great SouthEast Shakeout, an emergency drill in which participants will follow the “drop, cover, and hold on” protocol recommended by emergency management experts for earthquakes. As I’m sure you remember, a real earthquake last year damaged campus structures, especially Marist and McMahon halls. After that we decided to hold an emergency drill last spring to practice for the unlikely event of another earthquake. The Great SouthEast Shakeout is a way for us to repeat that drill in concert with a number of other organizations in the Southeast U.S. You will receive more information on the two drills in the days to come.

I commend to your attention a number of worthy academic and cultural events occurring on campus in October, from a colloquium on Christian humanism in business and a conference on the Italian novelist Elsa Morante to performances of Hedda Gabler and Finian’s Rainbow. You can find details on these and other events by visiting the University website calendar.

And, finally, all of us Washingtonians – natives and transplants (including die-hard Red Sox fans like me) – will be watching the Nationals in their very first playoffs. May they prosper long into October.