The Catholic University of America

Aug. 31, 2015

From the

Much to Be Excited About

Welcome back. I hope your summer was restful and you are excited for the start of the academic year. There is a lot to be excited about.

We begin the new academic year with four new members of the administration. In May I announced that the University had hired Scott Rembold as our new Vice President for University Advancement, and Christopher Lydon as our Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing. In June I appointed Dr. Andrew Abela as the new University Provost. In July the University hired Robert Specter as our Interim Vice President for Finance and Treasurer. I could not be happier with this administrative team. The cabinet met on August 19 for a day-long retreat. It was an opportunity to discuss our goals and priorities for this academic year and our strategy working together toward them.

I would like to acknowledge the great contribution which Cathy Wood made to the University, as our Vice President for Finance and Treasurer for the past six years. Cathy left the University in July to pursue other professional opportunities, but I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude for her years of diligent service to the University.

I mentioned in my last column that the University was in the process of hiring a web design firm to redesign our website. I am happy to report that under Chris Lydon’s direction we have partnered with the digital marketing agency Elliance to redesign our website and develop brand messaging to support our enrollment and advancement efforts. Elliance will be visiting campus in early September to conduct interviews with the senior leadership, all school deans, and some of our faculty and students to initiate the project. We aim to launch the new website in March 2016.

I also mentioned in my last column that we would perform an audit of the University’s strategic plan this summer. The results of this audit were encouraging. We have accomplished more than 40% of the action items under each of our four main goals. This audit will help us focus our energy and resources in the immediate future. More information on this will be forthcoming later in the semester.

Last Thursday we welcomed 925 freshmen to campus. This cohort was 10% larger than last year’s freshman class, and almost 100 more students than we projected for this year. Our success was due in no small measure to the vigorous outreach efforts by our admission staff and members of our faculty and our academic deans. I am grateful to all for the part they played.

President Garvey Orientation 2015
President and Mrs. Garvey chat with Orientation advisors on move-in day.

We also welcomed 67 transfer students, 749 graduate students, and 128 first-year students in the Columbus School of Law.

Of course, the most exciting news is that Pope Francis will be celebrating mass on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in less than a month. Approximately 25,000 people will fill the area on and surrounding the University Mall. I have declared the day a President’s Holiday, and by now faculty, staff, and students should all have received information about entering the drawing for tickets. Please note that on September 22 classes will be canceled starting at 5 p.m. for all schools except the Columbus School of Law.

The University has partnered with the event planner Showcall to prepare our campus for the papal visit. Beginning in mid-September you will see a flurry of construction around campus. You have probably already noticed the cell phone tower that has been put up behind O’Connell Hall. A ten-story press riser will be built on the University Lawn, between Shahan and McGivney Halls. In the days immediately preceding the papal mass, TV trucks and members of the press will begin to arrive on campus. On the day the Pope arrives we anticipate having more than 800 media professionals on campus. The Great Room will be utilized as a media filing center. We all can expect to experience some inconvenience during this period and I thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.

cell phone tower
A new cell phone tower is erected on campus in preparation for Pope Francis's visit.

As we anticipate Pope Francis’s arrival, I invite you to join in preparing ourselves for his visit. The Archdiocese of Washington has challenged us to take concrete steps to Walk with Francis. We are encouraged to pray regularly for Pope Francis and to study his teaching; to serve others through works of mercy; and to act to promote human life and dignity, justice and peace, family life, and religious freedom. You can take the pledge to Walk with Francis here. Campus Ministry will provide a host of opportunities to prepare for the papal visit over the next few weeks, from Spanish masses to lectures to service opportunities. I also encourage you to visit our papal website There you’ll find more information about the preparations for the visit and how they will affect our campus, and reflections on Pope Francis’s teaching from CUA students, faculty, and staff. The site also provides Spanish translations of common prayers and the prayer of canonization that will be used at the canonization mass for Blessed Junipero Serra.

This will certainly be an exciting month. No doubt September 23 will be a day that for many of us will remain etched in our memories for many years to come. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our students. Let us give thanks for it by attending the Mass of the Holy Spirit, which opens the academic year on Thursday, September 3. It will be celebrated at 12:10 p.m. in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica.