The Catholic University of America

April 1, 2016

From the

Happy Easter

Happy Easter. I hope you all had a blessed Triduum and a restful break.

Yesterday we debuted the first phase of the University’s new web design. It captures the spirit of Catholic University and showcases the unparalleled academic excellence of our faculty and students. As I mentioned in my column last August, the University partnered with the digital marketing agency Elliance to create the new website and theme, “Cultivating Catholic Minds.” Over the last nine months, Elliance staff spent time on our campus and met with many different University constituents before creating the new website. I am very pleased with the result. “Cultivating Catholic Minds” captures what we do every day in our twelve schools, across every discipline. At the same time it invites us, as a community, to consider our work in light of our mission. I have reflected in more detail on the idea of a Catholic Mind in my letter to prospective students and visitors to our website. I would like to thank the staff of the Office of Marketing and Communications for their hard work in launching the new website and in particular, our web content editor Bart Pollock, who shepherded this project to completion.

On March 4 I announced that the University has hired James Dewey-Rosenfeld as the new dean of admissions. James comes to us from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where he has served as associate director of undergraduate admission. At Babson James recruited students from Central and South America. Enhancing international student recruitment is one of the initiatives outlined in the University’s strategic plan to help strengthen academic excellence. It will be one of James’s priorities at Catholic University. He will join the University on June 1. In the coming months we will also increase our admissions counseling staff. In the meantime, we will prepare to welcome accepted students of the Class of 2020 for Odyssey Day on April 8. I hope you will join me in warmly welcoming our visitors and demonstrating the ways in which our University excels as a place of learning, scholarship, and faith.

Elise Italiano, executive director of University communications, addresses the crowd at a rally in front of the Supreme Court on March 23.

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in our case objecting to the Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. On Tuesday the Supreme Court ordered the objecting parties and the government to file supplemental briefs that address whether and how contraceptive coverage may be obtained through insurance companies, but in a way that does not require any involvement on our part. I think this is cause for cautious optimism. It suggests that the Court understands, and may agree with us, that the government’s “accommodation” for religious institutions like Catholic University still involves us in providing services we believe gravely wrong.

On April 15 we will host the first-ever University Research Day to celebrate the scholarly achievements of our faculty and students across a variety of disciplines. Provost Abela announced plans for the day last November. I am delighted at the enthusiasm with which the announcement has been met. More than 250 faculty, staff, and students submitted proposals for presentations on topics ranging from musical performance to scriptural exegesis to the rise of ISIS. The day will reflect the remarkable breadth and variety of research we do at Catholic University. You can find a full list of the presentations on the Research Day website. The day will include two keynote speakers, 68 oral presentations in six interdisciplinary sessions throughout the day, and two poster sites. In addition we will have food trucks, music, and entertainment throughout the day. Program specifics will follow in the coming weeks. I hope you will take time to attend one of the sessions and to view the posters. It will be a wonderful opportunity for all of us to deepen our appreciation of the marvelous work our colleagues, professors, and students do every day.

April is always such a beautiful month on our campus and in Washington D.C., with the cherry blossoms in bloom. I hope you enjoy them. I will be travelling quite a bit to meet with alumni, parents, and friends of the University. On April 12 I will be in Baltimore to meet with Archbishop William Lori, a member of our board of trustees. I will travel to Atlanta on April 26, where Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, also a member of our board of trustees, has offered to host an evening with alumni. And on April 28 I will travel to Houston, where I will meet with our trustee Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, archbishop of Houston, and alumni, parents, and friends. I will be sorry to be away. But these visits are a wonderful opportunity for me share the good work of CUA, to strengthen our relationship with our alumni and friends, and to thank them for their continued support.

We were happy to announce last week that comedy partners Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan will be our commencement speakers at graduation this year. I reviewed Jim Gaffigan’s book Dad is Fat for The Tower at the beginning of semester and noted that Gaffigan, a father of five, makes the case, one joke at a time, that the joys of family far outweigh the sacrifice they require. I couldn’t agree more. And I look forward to welcoming the Gaffigans to the University.

May 1 will mark the fifth anniversary of the University's Compliance and Ethics Program. In this issue of Inside CUA Vin Lacovara, our Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, discusses the Five Year Report to the Campus Community on Compliance he has compiled to assess what we have accomplished since instituting the program. I was pleased to see that over the last five years members of the University community increasingly bring forward concerns about potential non-compliance and questions regarding compliance in their University activities. Our Compliance and Ethics program helps us ensure that we hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards and live out our principles in our day-to-day operations. I encourage everyone to read the report and to continue to make use of the Compliance and Ethics program.

I want to congratulate Provost Andrew Abela, who will be awarded the John Carroll Medal by the John Carroll Society at their annual dinner on April 15. The John Carroll Society is an organization of Catholic professionals committed to cultivating the spiritual and intellectual growth of its members and to serving the Archbishop of Washington in his works of charity. The John Carroll Medal is awarded to distinguished Catholics in recognition of lifetime achievement, public service, outstanding leadership, and commitment to their faith. Andrew is a deserving recipient.

Finally I want to draw your attention to a recent significant accomplishment by our Institute for Astrophysics and Computational Sciences. In 2011 the University was awarded a NASA cooperative agreement, a five-year grant to fund a project called “Center for Research and Exploration in Solar-Heliospheric Science.” The project was originally funded at just under $11 million for five years and was increased during those five years to slightly more than $12 million. We learned recently that our proposal for a follow-on project was accepted. A new five-year grant was awarded for more than $29 million. This is the largest single research grant award in University history.