The Catholic University of America

March 1, 2016

From the
PRESIDENT'S DESK
 

Springing Forward

Spring officially arrives this month, and with it college admissions season. It’s the critical window of time between the release of our admission decisions and our May 1 enrollment deadline when students make their final college decisions. Let me share with you some of the changes we’ve put in place over the last year in the areas of enrollment and marketing.

Last May Christopher Lydon joined the University as our new vice president for enrollment management and marketing. Under Chris’s leadership the University moved to test-optional undergraduate admissions. We recognize that standardized tests can discourage some students, especially those from underrepresented backgrounds, from applying to CUA. We hope that removing this impediment for otherwise well qualified students will help us expand our reach.

This year we also introduced a binding Early Decision program, in addition to our Early Action program, and moved our regular decision application date up by a month to Jan. 15. The cumulative effect of these changes is to give us more time to interact with prospective and accepted students. Instead of one big push at the end of April, we now have a series of yield activities leading up to Odyssey Day on April 8.

In the last month we have filled a key position in the division of Enrollment Management and Marketing. On Feb. 19 we hired Jacquelyn Malcolm as the new associate vice president for marketing and communications. She will begin work March 15. Jacquelyn brings to Catholic University a wealth of marketing and communications experience at mission-driven universities. She will head our new Office of Marketing and Communications and take the lead on much of our outreach to prospective students.

This change, along with the redesign of the University homepage (which will launch at the end of this month), accomplishes several of the marketing and enrollment initiatives set out in our strategic plan. They are significant steps toward accomplishing the goals set forth in the plan for improving academic excellence.

A new lounge and restaurant will open in the Pryzbyla Center.

The strategic plan also called for the expansion of recreational space on campus to enhance the student collegiate experience. This is now under way. Last month we began work on a new student lounge on the second floor of the Pryz. It should be finished in June or July. Below the student lounge we have plans for a new restaurant, Murphy’s, to provide our community with additional dining space and options. We’re in the final round of fundraising for Murphy’s, and hope it will be opened by spring semester 2017. On March 14 we will officially mark the start of this project with a groundbreaking ceremony, “Celebrating Murphy's: A New Beginning!” It will be an opportunity for us to thank the generous supporters who have made the new student lounge and Murphy’s possible.

Right now I am getting a preview of spring weather. I am spending the week in Florida, visiting with alumni, parents, and friends of the University. Yesterday I was in Palm Beach. Today Bishop Thomas Wenski, archbishop of Miami and a member of our Board of Trustees, will host a reception for us in Coral Gables. Tomorrow I will head north to Tampa and then home. I hope to bring warm weather with me.

While I am in Florida, more than 30 of our students, faculty, and staff are spending their spring break in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic on mission trips. In the Dominican Republic our students are working with the Bernadine Franciscan Sisters in their education and health ministries; in Jamaica they are serving HIV/AIDS patients, elderly persons, and children. At the same time 80 of our students and staff (and my wife Jeanne) will be travelling in groups to Louisiana, South Carolina, Iowa, and New Mexico to build homes with Habitat for Humanity. I am always impressed that our students choose to spend their break serving others.

It’s hard to believe midterms are already behind us, because the semester still has a lot in store. Let me highlight just a few of the events coming up this month. On Tuesday, March 8, the music school will host a master class with world-renowned cellist Lynn Harrell. A week later, on Sunday, March 13, the music school will host another master class by Renée Fleming, one of the finest opera singers of our time and a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and multiple Grammy awards. It is testament to our school and its students that musicians of such caliber come to the University to work with our students. Both events are open to the public. You can find more information about them here.

Also on March 13, I will serve as the Grand Marshal for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade of Washington, D.C. The theme of this year’s parade is “Educating the Future about the Past,” to mark the centennial of the Easter Rising. Leading a parade will be a new experience for me. Fortunately, the parade will also include pipe and marching bands, floats, and Irish dancers. If you are interested in marching, you can find more information here.

Catholic University will have its own events to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. To mark the centennial of the Easter Rising the University Libraries will present the exhibit, "Sworn to Be Free: Irish Nationalism, 1860-1921" in the May Gallery of Mullen Library. There will be an opening reception of the exhibit on Thursday, March 10. The Irish Studies faculty will host a lecture series commemorating the centennial. And the drama department will present two staged readings on March 14 and 21 commemorating pivotal moments in Irish history.

In March the University will also host three events which nicely illustrate the broad scope of our Catholic mission. March 16 through 18 the School of Business and Economics will co-host with the Napa Institute a conference entitled “Human Ecology: Integrating 125 Years of Catholic Social Doctrine.” The conference will bring together theologians and philosophers, cardinals, and business leaders to discuss the conditions necessary for human flourishing identified in Catholic social teaching — from Leo XIII’s seminal encyclical Rerum Novarum to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’. On March 17 the School of Theology and Religious Studies will host its own one-day symposium exploring the political, theological and scientific background, contributions, and implications of Laudato Si'. On March 19 the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies will host its annual Dean Hoge Memorial Lecture and Bishop Keane Medallion Award. This year Rev. James Martin, S.J., editor-at-large of America, will give the lecture, and Dr. Carolyn Woo, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services and a member of our Board of Trustees, will receive the Keane Medallion.

On March 23 the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in our case objecting to the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. We are joined by the Little Sisters of the Poor and several other faith-based nonprofit institutions in arguing that the government has violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The desire to act in conformity with our most deeply held judgments of good and evil, right and wrong, is one the government ought to encourage. It is sad that the Department’s insistence on promoting its own sexual agenda has come to this impasse. The Supreme Court will likely not announce a decision until May or June. We will keep the University community up to date as the case proceeds.

The men's basketball team won the Landmark Conference title.

The winter sports season is concluding, and several of our Cardinal teams have done very well. Congratulations to our women and men’s swimming and diving teams that won second and third place respectively at the Landmark Conference championship. Congratulations are also in order to our women's indoor track and field team, which finished fourth at the Landmark championship, and our men’s basketball team, which won the Landmark Conference championship this weekend and will now advance to the NCAA Division III Tournament.

Palm Sunday, which marks the start of Holy Week, falls on Sunday, March 20, this year. The University offers many opportunities to prepare for Easter. Throughout Lent there is Eucharistic adoration from 1 to 5 p.m. in Caldwell Chapel, Monday through Friday. The campus-wide stations of the cross will take place on Monday, March 21, at 8 p.m. Theological College will celebrate a Tenebrae service on Palm Sunday at 8 p.m. I encourage you to visit the campus ministry website for more resources on Lenten practices and services.