The Catholic University of America

March 2, 2015

From the

An Eventful March

It’s hard to believe spring break is just a week away—even if spring itself has not arrived just yet.

Thirty-seven of our students and staff will be heading to Alajuela, Costa Rica, and Kingston, Jamaica, for mission trips over the break. Seventy five of our students and staff will be traveling to Takoma, Washington; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Atlanta, Georgia, to help build safe and affordable housing for needy families. It is a testament to our students’ generosity that so many of them have chosen to spend their spring break serving others.

Last month we began an audit of the University’s website, social media, and our visibility in search engine results. The goal of the audit is to determine how the University’s websites and online presence can better support Enrollment Services and University Advancement. We have retained a consulting firm to assist in the audit process. In the world of higher education, university websites have become essential tools for marketing to prospective students. The most recent overhaul of our website occurred in 2009. The web audit will help us to determine what kind of new overhaul we need.

The University will host a number of distinguished guests in March. Today Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila (and a CUA alum) will deliver the School of Theology and Religious Studies' annual Cardinal Dearden Lecture. Cardinal Tagle, who was Pope Francis’s host on his recent trip to the Philippines, will speak on the 50th anniversary of Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (one of four main constitutions of the Second Vatican Council). Cardinal Tagle was the principal celebrant and homilist at our Baccalaureate Mass last year and received an honorary degree at Commencement. We are delighted that he is returning to CUA.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at last year's Baccalaureate Mass.

On March 5, the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies will honor the Honorable Mary Ann Glendon with the Bishop John Joseph Keane Medallion. Professor Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and serves on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She is a former president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. Professor Glendon is also a former member of our Board of Trustess. My own research and writing on human and political rights have led me to admire Professor Glendon’s work—as an academic, advocate, and ambassador. It has been of great value to the academy, the country, and the Church. I am delighted the University has the opportunity to honor her.

On March 19 the University will honor another great legal scholar. Joseph Weiler, Joseph Straus Professor at New York University School of Law and president of the European University Institute in Florence, will receive an honorary doctorate from the School of Theology and Religious Studies in recognition of his tireless defense of Christianity in Europe. Professor Weiler will lecture on “Sanctity and Morality in the Public Square.”

We have many other exciting academic and cultural events this month. I’ll mention a few of them.

This month the University will kick off a series of events to honor one of our most prominent alumni, Archbishop Fulton Sheen. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Archbishop Sheen’s first appearance on television. The University will begin our celebration of Archbishop Sheen with a video screening of “Fulton Sheen and Catholic Teaching on the Economy,” with talks by Andrew Abela, dean of the School of Business and Economics, and Joseph Capizzi, associate professor of theology and religious studies. You can find the schedule of Sheen events here.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

On March 12 the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies will host an academic conference on “American Catholics and Immigration: Past and Present.” The conference will bring together historians and theologians with contemporary activists, policy experts, and organization leaders who are working within or with the Catholic Church to address immigration law and immigrant welfare. The conference nicely highlights the way in which our academic work at The Catholic University of America can be placed in the service of the Church, our country, and the world.

The University will also host two graduate student conferences March 20–21. The School of Arts and Sciences, School of Theology and Religious Studies, and University Honors Program will host an interdisciplinary graduate conference to explore the influence of Mary, mother of Jesus, and her image through time. The keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Miri Rubin, Professor of Medieval and Early Modern History at the University of London. The conference, which is cohosted by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, is part of the University’s auxiliary programming for the landmark exhibit, Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The School of Philosophy will be hosting its sixth annual Graduate Student Conference in Philosophy. The topic for this year’s conference will be “The Public and the Private.” The keynote speakers will be Mark Alznauer, assistant professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, and V. Bradley Lewis, associate professor of philosophy at CUA.

I encourage you to check out the full roster of March events.

Congratulations are in order to Dr. Venigalla Rao, director of the Center for Advanced Training in Cell and Molecular Biology, and Dr. Sang Wook Lee, professor of biomedical engineering. Dr. Rao received a grant of $593,509 from the National Institutes of Health for his project, “Single Dose, Multivalent, Anthrax Plague Vaccines using Bacteriophage T4 Nanoparticles.” Dr. Lee was selected to receive a National Science Foundation Career award of $500,445. The NSF Career award is one of the most prestigious early career development programs offered by the federal government. His project, which runs for five years, is titled “Neuromechanics of Functional Impairment of Upper Extremity Post-Stroke and Its Effective Restoration.”

Congratulations also to our men’s and women’s basketball teams on a great season. Men’s basketball is 22-5 and at one point won 15 games straight, the longest streak in the team’s history. The team is ranked #19 nationally in its division. Although the team lost to the University of Scranton in the Landmark Conference championship, the team is waiting to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Our women’s basketball team is 19-8 and is second in the Landmark Conference and on Saturday defeated the #1 University of Scranton to win the 2014-2015 Landmark Conference women’s basketball title. Finally, our women’s lacrosse team is off to a great start. In their opening game of the season this Saturday they defeated Salisbury University, the #1 team in the country.

Finally, Campus Ministry has put together a wonderful set of resources for making the most of Lent. You can find schedules for Mass, confession, adoration, and stations; Lenten reflections; and opportunities for service during Lent. I encourage you to visit the site.

I hope all of our students and faculty will have a restful—and safe—spring break.