The Catholic University of America

Inside CUA Nameplate

From the President's Desk


  President John Garvey and his wife, Jeanne, sign the Community Pledge.

Last month I announced the appointment of Will C. Rainford as the new dean of the National Catholic School of Social Service. He will be a wonderful addition to the School. We are all looking forward to working with him. We owe a special word of thanks to Prof. Steven Schneck, who has served as the interim dean of NCSSS while also directing the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies. IPR recently co-hosted a big conference on the 50th anniversary of the papal encyclical Pacem in Terris.

On April 10 we invited students, staff, and faculty to sign a new Community Pledge which calls for a deepened commitment to building a community of justice, love, and peace on campus. The pledge is the fruit of a collaborative effort by Father Jude DeAngelo, O.F.M. Conv., director of Campus Ministry, our Student Life administrators, and a student committee. You can find an online version of the pledge. Our freshmen who arrive in August will be invited to sign it.

In early April we submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services about the latest proposed changes to regulations about mandatory contraceptive, abortion, and sterilization services. HHS had invited public comments in its Feb. 6, 2013 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The proposed changes do little to alleviate our concerns about the existing rules. HHS persists in refusing to recognize organizations like ours as religious institutions. Worse, it continues to promote the idea of sex as a recreational activity from whose consequences the government will relieve people by providing free contraceptives and early term abortions. Congress envisioned nothing of the sort when it passed the Affordable Care Act. The best outcome to this dispute would be for HHS to conform its preventive services regulations to the scope envisioned by Congress. And if the Department insists on maintaining its present course, it should at least exempt organizations like Catholic University and let us care for our employees and students in a way that is consistent with the beliefs we model and teach. The Administration has already granted numerous other exemptions. It could easily allow one to protect the sincere religious beliefs of so many institutions that have been drafted as unwilling participants in this misguided effort.

The Department of Drama celebrated its 75th anniversary with a series of events last month.

On April 26 and 27 we celebrated the drama department’s 75th anniversary. It was a lovely series of events that brought back a number of successful and appreciative alumni. We were blessed with nice weather on Saturday, which everyone had the opportunity to enjoy in the outdoor tent that was set up for the occasion outside the entrance to Hartke Theatre. The anniversary coincided with a changing of the guard in the department, as Gail Beach handed over the reins as department chair to Patrick Tuite. What a wonderful way for Prof. Beach to conclude her tenure.

On Friday, May 10, I will host the American Cardinals Dinner with Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, Chancellor, and alumnus of the University. The Dinner is an annual event to celebrate the University and raise money for scholarships for our students. This year it is being held here at the Washington Hilton. Thanks to the generosity of our many alumni and friends, we expect to raise more than $1 million from the event.

It is hard to believe that another year has gone by. Pretty soon students will be finishing finals and heading for home or off to summer internships. We will say goodbye to our seniors at Commencement. Final exams still lie ahead. Let me take this opportunity to wish all of our students luck.

Speaking of Commencement, I look forward to welcoming Dana Gioia back to campus to deliver our Commencement address on May 18. Dana Gioia is my favorite American poet, a highly regarded Catholic intellectual, and an advocate for the arts. He transformed the National Endowment for the Arts during the two terms he served as its chairperson. He has composed four full-length collections of poetry and is the author of a major critical work, Can Poetry Matter? I hope you will join me in welcoming him to Catholic University.

William T. Robinson III will offer a Commencement address to the graduates of our Columbus School of Law on May 24. Bill Robinson is one of the country’s most experienced and capable legal practitioners. He is the member-in-charge of the Northern Kentucky offices of Frost Brown Todd LLC. Robinson recently finished a term as president of the American Bar Association. I am delighted he will be joining us.

The Catholic University of America Press has published a collection of Pope Benedict XVI’s writings on Catholic education. Prof. J. Steven Brown of our School of Engineering edited the volume, and I wrote the Foreword. Pope Benedict was himself a famous academic and a great scholar. It was fun to consider his wisdom on a topic so near to my own heart. I came away from the experience with a deepened appreciation for this great theologian, and for the special role of this University in the world of Catholic education.

  CUA Solar Decathlon
  Students led tours of Harvest Home on Earth Day on April 22. Students at Catholic, George Washington, and American universities are entering the house in the 2013 Solar Decathlon.

Over the summer a group of our architecture students will remain on campus to continue preparations for the 2013 Solar Decathlon. They will be joined by students from George Washington University who specialize in engineering, landscape, and interiors. The students will complete the construction of their Harvest Home here at the University. Once they finish construction, the home will go “live” as it is hooked up to the electricity grid to begin producing power. After that the team will take the home through a simulation of the competition and evaluate and fine tune its performance. Participating in the Solar Decathlon is a tremendous opportunity for our architecture students and their partners from George Washington University and American University. Congratulations and good luck to them.

As our thoughts turn to summer, I’m happy to report that, once again, beginning in June, we will work half-day Fridays (with supervisor approval). In addition, we have approved a 22-day holiday schedule for 2013-2014. Faculty and staff will be receiving an email later today that provides details about the summer and holiday schedules.

We’ve all had the opportunity to see the Monroe Street Market taking shape across the street from the main campus, south of Michigan Avenue. This summer we will reach an important milestone. The first apartment building in the complex, Brookland Works (the one closest to the Metrorail), will open in July. Over the next 15 months we will see the other parts of the complex come on line.

Monroe Street Market is a tangible example of the growth and progress all around us. Here at the University the interior, often unseen, growth and progress of everyone in our community, especially our students, is our most important priority. It is the objective for which we exist as a university. My wish for all of you is that you will have the opportunity over the coming summer months to relax and re-energize so we can continue our journey of growth and progress together when we all reconvene in August.