In this month’s edition of Inside CUA Christine Sportes, our Associate Vice President for Human Resources, announces that we have moved the start date of our health plan year from January 1, 2014, to December 1, 2013. The new date allows us to deal more effectively with some expenses and complexities associated with the Affordable Care Act. I encourage you to read the column here for more information.
Speaking of the Affordable Care Act, we filed a new complaint in the federal district court against the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on September 20. We were joined by the Archdiocese of Washington and several of its affiliated ministries, and Thomas Aquinas College in California. As I have noted in previous columns, HHS has enacted regulations requiring certain religious organizations to provide insurance coverage for early-stage abortions, prescription contraceptives, and surgical sterilizations. The regulations offer an exemption for religious organizations, but define the class so narrowly that it excludes institutions like Catholic University. Providing the required services raises a moral dilemma for us as a Catholic institution, and forces us to act in a way that is contrary to our mission. Last May we filed a lawsuit against HHS that was dismissed on procedural grounds (the court said it was not yet ripe for adjudication). The new complaint was filed in response to a new rule issued by HHS on June 28.
We are disappointed that, in spite of highly publicized protests by many religious organizations (including, most recently, a lawsuit by the Little Sisters of the Poor), the administration has been unwilling to offer adequate protection for religious liberty. We have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our mission as a Catholic university, and to oppose the mandate’s redefinition of religious ministry.
|President Garvey and Provost James Brennan with the named chairs at the University, who received medals at a special reception.|
About a month ago, I hosted a reception for all the named chairs at the University. A named chair is an honor bestowed upon a particularly distinguished faculty member. Some of our named chairs are endowed, some are not. An endowed chair means that there is funding attached that defrays the faculty member’s salary and, in some cases, other related expenses. At the University we have 23 named chairs. This is a mark of distinction, and in that spirit we presented medals for the named chairs at the reception. I invited faculty members who hold the chairs to wear their medals at University academic convocations. The medals will be visible reminders of our dedication to scholarship and academic excellence. I was pleased two days after the reception to see many of the chairholders wearing their medals at the University’s Mass of the Holy Spirit.
On September 27-29 we celebrated Homecoming and Reunions weekend. It was a great success. Our rough estimates indicate that we had the highest turnout in recent memory for our 50-year reunion class. Sunday morning’s reunion Mass was packed with alumni and current students. We have a tradition of reading off the names of all the deceased members of the 50-year reunion class at that Mass. It was a moving tribute to them. More than 800 people came out for our pre-game tent party. We were delighted to welcome so many CUA graduates back to campus this year. They set a high bar for future alumni.
On October 11 I will give a lecture on John Henry Newman and Catholic education at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. The lecture will be a part of an inaugural symposium for Franciscan’s new President, Rev. Sean Sheridan, T.O.R. Father Sheridan holds two degrees from Catholic University (a licentiate and a doctorate in canon law), and taught in our School of Canon Law before going to Franciscan University. I am delighted that he has taken on these new responsibilities at the helm of that fine institution and am pleased to be a part of his inaugural celebration.