The Catholic University of America

Nov. 3, 2014

From the

Successful October Events and Upcoming November Travels

  President Garvey met with students and families during Family Weekend.

In last month’s column I previewed Family Weekend, Cardinal Weekend, and the School of Music’s production of Carousel. I’m happy to report that each was a great success.

The first weekend in October (Oct. 3–5) nearly 500 families joined us for Family Weekend. It was wonderful to see our students with their parents, grandparents, and siblings. That Saturday I met about 50 parents for coffee. They were invited under the auspices of a new parent organization, The Parents Leadership Council, which is facilitated by Deborah DuPont in University Advancement. I was impressed by their commitment to Catholic University and their desire to be involved in the University’s life and mission. Family Weekend also coincided with our 1994 football team’s 20th reunion. After recording a 1–9 record in 1993, the ’94 team finished 8–2, tying the record for the best turnaround in NCAA Division III football history. More than 40 players and family members attended the game against Hampden-Sydney. I was impressed by the players’ loyalty to the University and to each other. Twenty years later they are still a team.

Cardinal Weekend had a record-breaking turnout for the 50th reunion class.  

Two weeks later (Oct. 17–19) we welcomed more than 1,100 alumni and guests back to campus for Cardinal Weekend. I always love meeting our alumni, and over the course of the weekend I had the opportunity to speak with many of them, from recent grads to members of the class of ’64. This year more than 125 members of the 50th reunion class and their family members attended Cardinal Weekend, a record breaking number. I was delighted to see that kind of turnout from the Class of 1964. But I was also struck by the number of young alumni who returned for the weekend. Their devotion to the University reflects the devotion of our faculty and staff to our students. It bodes well for our future.

At the end of Cardinal Weekend Jeanne and I went to see the music school’s production of Carousel in the newly renovated Hartke Theatre. The singing, the dancing, the staging – all were spectacular. I left Hartke humming If I Loved You, and very proud of our talented students and faculty in the music school.

October was a busy month for me, and November will be too. Today I am in Oxford to speak on Nov. 4 about Christianity and the Arts at the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture. While I’m here I will meet with our Oxford Scholars – our University students studying there for a semester. They are going to take me on a tour of the university. The following week (Nov. 12) I will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, to visit the headquarters of the Eternal Word Television Network. That evening I will appear as a guest on EWTN Live, hosted by Rev. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., to talk about The Catholic University of America. It will be a nice opportunity to inform viewers about the great work the University does. We have established a fruitful relationship with EWTN over the last decade, and it has grown stronger in recent years. This year Michael Warsaw, the CEO of EWTN and a Catholic University alumnus, joined the University’s Board of Trustees. I am looking forward to touring the facilities of this global television network for the first time. While in Alabama I will meet for breakfast with alumni in Birmingham. I hope to continue meeting with our alumni during my travels around the country. It’s inspiring to hear about their lives and vocations and it’s an opportunity for alumni to stay connected with the University.

On Nov. 16 I will travel to Rome to participate in a colloquium on marriage sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The purpose of the conference is to consider topics such as the meaning of marriage, the rights of children, and the relationship between marriage and poverty. Pope Francis will take part, and preside over one of the sessions. If I have a chance to say hello to the Holy Father, I will be sure to put in a plug for him to make a side trip to our campus when he comes to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September 2015. While I am in Rome I will also visit the students in our Rome program and meet with various Vatican offices.

During the first full week of November the School of Theology and Religious Studies (STRS) will host two prominent cardinals. On Nov. 3 Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will speak on “The Contributions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Theological Enterprise.” When I learned that Cardinal Müller would be travelling to Washington this fall, I invited him to speak at the University. I’m delighted that he has accepted. Three days later, on Nov. 6, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the recipient of STRS’s 2014 Johannes Quasten Award, will speak on “Theological background of the ecclesiological and ecumenical vision of Pope Francis.” If you followed the recent extraordinary synod on the family, you might recall that these two leaders of the Church represented important voices in the discussion. I doubt that there is another university in this country that could attract Church leaders of this caliber so regularly to its campus.

Since the Board of Trustees renewed my appointment as president, I have begun meeting with the deans and faculty of each of our schools, staff members from various offices, and our students. Just last week I held a town hall meeting with our students. I was impressed to see more than a hundred of them take time out from their busy schedules (especially during midterms) to meet with me. It shows how much our students care about the University.

The purpose of these meetings has been to discuss the current state of the University as well as our short- and long-term plans and goals. They have also been an opportunity for me to hear from others their concerns, ideas, and insights. The Catholic University of America is a communal endeavor and I am grateful for these candid conversations.

I would like to call attention to a noteworthy accomplishment by three faculty members in the School of Theology and Religious Studies. In October we learned that STRS would be receiving a grant of $185,000 from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to integrate scientific content into students’ theological studies. Congratulations are in order to Monsignor Kevin Irwin, David Bosworth, and Robert Miller, who did the work to secure the grant. AAAS gave awards to 10 institutions. Catholic University was one of only two Catholic universities to receive such an award.

Finally, I’d like to offer a warm welcome to our new Associate Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer Maureen Brookbank. Maureen joined The Catholic University of America at the beginning of October and we’re very glad to have her with us.

With midterms behind us we are heading into the homestretch of the semester. Don’t forget to vote tomorrow. Thanksgiving will be upon us before we know it. I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving, and safe travels to all who will be on the road during the holiday.