The Catholic University of America

Inside CUA Nameplate

From the President's Desk


  Dean Andrew Abela speaks about the new School of Business and Economics during a Jan. 16 reception to celebrate the new school.

Welcome back. I hope your Christmas break was relaxing.

We opened the new year by announcing the creation of our new School of Business and Economics. This decision follows a three-year process of discernment, evaluation, and planning. I am thrilled at the plans for the new school. It was featured in the Wall Street Journal the day of the announcement in an article entitled "B-School Mixes Faith and Finance: Catholic University's New Program Will Infuse Courses With Instruction in Virtues." I can’t improve on that as a description of the business plan. I was also delighted to announce on January 18 that Andrew Abela, former chair of the Department of Business and Economics, will serve as the school’s first dean. In addition to the Journal article, we received a lot of favorable publicity for the new school. I take that as an omen of its future success.

We recently heard some news about the lawsuit we filed against the government on May 21, 2012, regarding the HHS mandate. You may recall that we filed a suit protesting the legality of new rules obliging us to provide insurance coverage of surgical sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraceptives, in violation of our religious beliefs. On January 25 a federal judge dismissed the suit on procedural grounds, citing the government’s promise to propose an accommodation by March 31, 2013. We very much hope that this happens, and that the dispute can be resolved amicably. At the moment we are considering how best to expedite the process to a final decision.

A year ago I noted in this column that a team of students, headed by Catholic University’s School of Architecture and Planning and including students from George Washington University and American University, were chosen to participate in the Department of Energy’s 2013 Solar Decathlon. After a year of intense planning, the group will commence building the house in the visitor lot by Father O’Connell Hall this month. Steel for the project will arrive during the first week of February. Over the summer the group will disassemble the house and transport it to California for the competition. Following the competition, the house will be donated to a wounded veteran. We are proud of our students involved in this initiative, and wish them much success.

I was equally proud to learn that a number of our music and drama students and alumni have received nominations for the 29th Helen Hayes Awards. These awards recognize outstanding achievement in plays and musicals in the D.C. area. You can read the full list of Catholic University nominees here. We tell prospective students and their parents that our music school and drama department provide excellent education and training, and that opportunities abound to gain professional experience in the vibrant performing arts environment in the greater D.C. area. A dozen students and alumni nominated this year for awards in five different productions shows that we haven’t been exaggerating.

The University celebrated the Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas as part of National Catholic Schools Week.

Earlier this week we celebrated our annual Mass in honor of our patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, with our friends from the Dominican House of Studies. The Mass is one of my favorite liturgies of the year. The last couple of years we have invited the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) to urge its members (Catholic elementary and high schools throughout the United States) to tune in to our Mass of the Holy Spirit, which opens the academic year. For this year’s Mass in honor of St. Thomas, we took the collaboration a step further. Officials from NCEA joined us in the Shrine’s Crypt Church, along with students from Archbishop Carroll High School and St. Anthony Catholic School. Together we celebrated both St. Thomas and National Catholic Schools Week. And for the first time, the Mass in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas was televised live by the Eternal Word Television Network. It was a wonderful success, and we are delighted to be joined by viewers from around the country in celebrating this special occasion.

I’ll close with a word about Lent. It begins on Wednesday, February 13. This year we will meditate in a special way on the words of the Prayer of St. Francis, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Each week the wonderful staff of Campus Ministry will help us to focus our prayer on victims of violence and injustice in our culture, and to meditate on what our response should be. Let’s also pray for one another, that all will have a prayerful, fruitful Lenten season.