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Development News


University Receives Gift From Estate


The Catholic University of America received a gift of $695,722.11 from the estate of Thomas and Mary Louse Siersma to be used toward further funding of The Father James J. Kortendick Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarship provides full financial support to a student in the School of Library and Information Science.

As a youth, Thomas Siersma was taken from Holland to work at a factory in Germany where he developed his labor skills. During World War II, Mary — using the cover name Pim, which she then kept for the rest of her life — worked in the Dutch underground in the Netherlands. Tom Siersma met Mary Louise at church in Alexandria, Va., where they had lived for many years. Both went to Mass every day, a habit Tom developed after World War II. Mary Louse Siersma graduated in 1961 with her M.S. in library science. She suffered from Alzheimer's for many years. Tom cared for her until she passed away in July 1999 at age 78; Tom died at age 87 in March 2012.

“Both Tom and Mary Louise Siersma were devoted to the Catholic Church and valued Catholic education," said Joanne P. Stuimer, the couple's niece. "They loved children even though they had no children of their own. They lived simply and valued their families and friends.”

The Father James J. Kortendick Endowed Scholarship Fund began in 1967 as a loan fund in honor of Father Kortendick's 25th anniversary in the library science department. In 1972, Father Kortendick was honored at his retirement by the combination of other gifts to the loan fund in order to create the now-Father James J. Kortendick Endowed Scholarship Fund. Father Kortendick passed away in 1986 at the age of 79 in Catonsville, Md.

If you would like to help ensure a future for library science students at The Catholic University of America, click on the “Make a Gift Button” on the institutional advancement website and specify The Father Kortendick Endowed Scholarship Fund. You may also send contributions to The Catholic University of America, Attn: Office of Institutional Advancement, Aquinas Hall, 620 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, DC 20064.

Architecture and Planning School Receives Gift for Inaugural Program

Dean Randall Ott has announced a $35,000 gift to the School of Architecture and Planning from WDG Architecture PLLC in celebration of the school’s 75th anniversary. The annual gift, directed to the school’s graduate-level real estate development concentration, inaugurates the WDG/Special Projects Initiative (WDG/SPI).

WDG/SPI is a collaborative, broad-based undertaking between the firm and a team of graduate students in the real estate development concentration. Its goal is to produce the complete design and documentation of a complex, functional, forward-thinking construction project annually. The initiative involves research, testing, and implementation of cutting-edge technologies, and demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and/or other socially relevant goals.

The gift will provide scholarships for graduate students named to the collaborative team, which will be led by Tim Bertschlinger, a senior design architect at WDG and a current CUA visiting critic/lecturer, assisted by WDG partners George Dove (B.Arch 1965, M.Arch 1972), and Eric Liebmann, director of design. Judith Meany, professor of practice and director of the real estate concentration, also will participate in the studio.

Already under way is a single-family, residential design project for a Washington, D.C., client. The project, which has an environmental mission, will serve as a regional demonstration initiative to inspire designers and demonstrate to the public that a carbon neutral solution using sustainable products and systems can work with traditional notions of comfort and beauty. The goal is to create a home with an environmental mission that supports that vision but also addresses market realities. The owners have committed to ongoing periodic access to the home for educational purposes.

WDG/SPI aspires to provide a remarkable educational opportunity for all participating parties. Participating within this mentoring professional environment in all aspects of a design intensive, to-be-built project, CUA students will find internship opportunities.

To make a gift to this initiative online, go to and click on the red “Make a Gift” button on the left. Designate your gift to “Other.” On the second screen, under Other Designations, type “SPI” in the text box.

1937 Law School Alumna Creates Charitable Gift Annuity

Long before CUA’s Columbus School of Law was established, Josephine W. Hillyard was a law student, on scholarship, at CUA. She is a native Washingtonian, as were her parents. After graduation and throughout her career, she enjoyed practicing law in her hometown, experiencing the change of seasons during her daily walks to and from work, and attending performances at Hartke Theatre. She retired from the Board of Appeal and Review for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (today known as the Merit System Protection Board), where any adverse action involving federal employees had to exhaust administrative remedies before an appeal could be made to the federal court.

Following her retirement, Hillyard continued living in D.C., enjoying painting as well as traveling the world. Throughout the years, she continued to feel a strong connection to CUA. Although she never had children, she wanted to include her extended family in her estate plans and provide something for her alma mater.

Josephine Hillyard chose to fund a charitable gift annuity, in which fixed payments are made to an annuitant(s) during their lifetime, with the residuum going to benefit the University in accordance with the donor’s wishes.

Hillyard’s generosity will benefit CUA’s Columbus School of Law through the Josephine W. Hillyard Scholarship Fund. Her spirit and dedication to CUA will provide countless law students with the ability to realize their educational goals for years to come.

To learn more about planned giving to the University, contact Isabel De La Puente by telephone at 202-319-6914 or email at