The Catholic University of America

From the
PRESIDENT'S DESK
 

Welcome Back

 
  President and Mrs. Garvey welcome new students and families during Orientation as Gus stands guard.


Welcome back to a new academic year. I love seeing the University come alive with the return of our students. The campus feels empty without them.

Last week we welcomed more than 900 freshman and transfer students. It’s always wonderful to meet our new students and their families. If you’re new at Catholic University, I hope you’ll stop and say hello when you see me around. Meanwhile, our students at the Columbus School of Law have already been back in classes for a week. We were pleased to welcome 160 new students in J.D. and master’s programs to the law school this year.

One of my big projects this summer was to study the changing landscape of higher education. Many universities and colleges have seen decreasing enrollments in recent years and are anticipating declines in net tuition revenue. As I mentioned at the spring faculty luncheon, I planned to work during the summer and fall with the provost, the vice presidents, and a group of deans on this issue. Our objective is to look three or four years around the bend, to anticipate what the world will be like then, and to suggest changes in course that we should make to deal with them. I look forward to sharing some of the working group’s recommendations at the fall faculty luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

The summer was also a busy time for construction at the University. I’m pleased to report that renovations of Father O’Connell Hall are on schedule for completion in time for the dedication on Oct. 17. As those of you who have been involved in the process know, moving offices from one building to another is a time-consuming endeavor. We expect to complete the move of Admissions and Enrollment Services from McMahon Hall to Father O’Connell Hall early in the second semester.

Hartke Theatre has been another hub of renovation activity. We had to do some repairs to the building that were necessitated by the earthquake of 2011. We took the occasion to provide a much needed facelift to parts of the Hartke interior. When you visit next time you’ll find new seat and back cushions in the auditorium, repainted walls and ceilings, new carpeting in the lobby and theatre, and more. Hartke is an important center of our campus cultural life, not just for the University community but also for our neighbors. I’m glad we have been able to make it a more welcoming space.

 
A rendering of the multi-purpose sport court, student common area, and contemplative garden being built in Centennial Village.
 
 

If you take a walk to the heart of our residential area of campus, you will see construction under way in the middle of Centennial Village. In the course of this semester we will complete construction of a new multi-purpose sport court, student common area, and contemplative garden. The garden will have a water feature and amphitheater seating for individual or group reflection. The new outdoor space will enhance the quality of life for our students who live there.

I am sure you noticed the evolution of Monroe Street Market across Michigan Ave. In July our bookstore moved from the Pryzbyla Center to its new location in the development. Just last week Brookland Pint opened for service, and there are more retail openings down the road. All of this is part of Phase I of the Monroe Street Market development plan. We expect to finalize arrangements for Phase II of the development with the Bozzuto Group by the end of this year. Phase II will include construction of 45 townhouses as well as additional apartments and retail space.

As we return to the rhythm and pace of the school year, there will be a number of excellent academic and cultural events occurring on campus to look forward to. You can find them on the University calendar. I might note just one: on Sept. 17-21 the School of Canon Law will host the 15th International Congress of Canon Law. This will be the first time in its history that this international congress has met in the United States. Participants will consider new amendments to canonical penal law, and some of their implications for civil law. The work of the Congress provides an excellent example of how the academic pursuit of knowledge can contribute to the life and mission of the Church, and an even better one of how our University plays a unique role in this country in fulfilling that mission.

Finally, I’d like to mention a new initiative by the Office of Student Affairs that was launched this year at Freshman Orientation. Our Community, My Responsibility is designed to foster a culture of respect on campus and to emphasize the responsibility each of us has to care for the other members of this community. Read Mike Allen’s column in this issue of Inside CUA for more information on this initiative and others that the Office of Student Affairs is launching to promote civility.

I hope to see you all this Thursday, Aug. 28, at the Mass of the Holy Spirit. It will be celebrated at 12:10 p.m. in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica. Cardinal Wuerl will be the celebrant and homilist. Before Mass we will be passing out cards encouraging prayers through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Servant of God. We are excited that the cause for sainthood for our former Catholic University student and professor is gaining momentum. You can learn more about Archbishop Sheen and keep up to date on his cause for canonization at http://fulton-sheen.cua.edu.