The Catholic University of America

Inside CUA Nameplate

From the President's Desk


  Christine Mica, dean of admissions, greets prospective students and their families on Odyssey Day.

Happy Easter, everyone. I hope it was great. The semester is wrapping up and soon most of the students will be gone. I want to take the opportunity of the final issue of Inside CUA for this academic year to offer a few important updates.

The summer months are some of the most productive for building and construction on campus. As I have mentioned before in connection with our south campus development, our University bookstore will be moving across the street to Monroe Street Market. The new bookstore, which will become a Barnes & Noble College super store, will move off campus over the summer.

The transition of the bookstore to its new location will free up the old bookstore space in the Pryzbyla Center. We have long planned to turn that area into a gathering space for students, faculty, and staff. The gathering space will have two parts. Downstairs on the lower level, we plan to open a lounge that will offer seated dining and sell beer and wine. The lower level will be open limited hours. We anticipate that it will be available for reservation to departments and schools for functions, as well as to everyone on campus during certain hours. The upper level will be a social space for students. We have engaged an architectural firm to develop the plans, and construction will begin over the summer. Our goal is for the gathering space, which will be called Murphy’s, to be open for business in early 2015.

Another area on campus that will see construction activity over the summer is Centennial Village. We will be installing a sport court like the one by the Kane Fitness Center, and doing significant landscaping work in the area to create more flat green space. This will respond to a need for more recreational space on campus for students.

We are really anxious to complete the renovation of Father O’Connell Hall. On October 17, we will dedicate the renovated hall at homecoming. Bishop O’Connell will be back on campus for the dedication. Speaking of homecomings, we are renaming that event. Beginning this fall it will be called Cardinal Weekend. We want everyone in the campus community, including faculty, staff, students, and alumni, to be a part of it. We hope the new name captures the spirit of a community-wide celebration.

Philip Rivers, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, will address graduates at Commencement on May 17.

Each year I look forward to our beautiful Commencement exercises. This year’s Commencement takes place on Saturday, May 17. Our list of honorary degree recipients is impressive, as always. In addition to Philip Rivers, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and this year’s Commencement speaker, we will award honorary degrees to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila and University alumnus, and Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay movement dedicated to evangelization and charity. Cardinal Tagle will join Cardinal Wuerl and Archbishop Viganò, the apostolic nuncio, in concelebrating our Baccalaureate Mass. We are honored to have them as concelebrants. This year the Mass will be televised live on the Eternal Word Television Network.

We had beautiful weather for Odyssey Day on April 11. More than 630 prospective students came to campus. That’s just shy of a 30% increase over last year. This year we are aiming for a class of 850, which will move us toward our long-term goal of expanding the class to 1000. We were also delighted to welcome 90 prospective students to our Honors Dinner (up 12.5% from last year). In the coming years we will continue to think strategically when it comes to enrollment, and devote more resources to encouraging prospective students who will fit well here. By targeting students who are likely to come to Catholic University and stay for the duration of their undergraduate education, we boost our admit and retention rates, both of which influence our ranking and reputation.

While I’m on the subject of admissions, I want to share information about a recent trend in our undergraduate application statistics. We are seeing a shift in where applications are directed within the University. Since 2012 there has been a jump in the percentage of students applying to the Schools of Business and Economics, Social Service, Nursing, and Engineering. Business and Economics is up 39.8% in the last two years. It now accounts for almost 25% of our applicants. Counterbalancing these numbers are decreases in Arts and Sciences (down 18.8%) and Architecture and Planning (it’s down, but this is harder to gauge because enrollment in joint programs is up). Some of the shift from arts and sciences to business is explained by the creation of the School of Business and Economics — but not all of it. Students are responding to the pressures of the economic downturn. The trend toward fields that seem to offer better prospects for employment reflects students’ concerns about getting jobs and repaying education loans. My own conviction is that a degree in Greek and Latin, to take just one example, is equally attractive to a prospective employer as one in a more “practical” course of study. I think we misapprehend the verdict of the employment market when we choose majors for their anticipated utility.

I’m happy to share that I have reappointed two of our deans, Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, and Pat McMullen, dean of the School of Nursing. I look forward to continuing to work with these two exemplary administrators.

I wish all of our students luck as they prepare for exams and finish out the semester. To all our faculty, staff, and students, I wish a relaxing and blessed summer.