The Catholic University of America

May 2, 2016

From the
PRESIDENT'S DESK
 

The Year in Review

The end of the year is upon us. I wish all of our students preparing for finals the best of luck and assurance of my prayers.

Normally I use this monthly column to preview the month ahead. But this month I’d like to look back on what has been a truly remarkable year.

Pope Francis arrives on campus on Sept. 23. 

We began the year with a visit from Pope Francis. We hosted more than 30,000 guests, volunteers, and public safety officials on the day of the visit. ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, EWTN and myriad other news outlets all broadcasted the visit from our campus to millions of viewers around the world.

We also began this year with a largely new administrative team. In June I appointed Dr. Andrew Abela as the new Provost. Scott Rembold, vice president for university advancement; Christopher Lydon, vice president for enrollment management and marketing; and Robert Specter, vice president for finance and treasurer all joined the University last summer. Over the course of the year I have been impressed and pleased with how well this team works together to advance the mission of the University.

Here are some of the things we’ve accomplished.

We successfully hired two new deans, Bill Bowman in the School of Business and Economics and Aaron Dominguez in the School of Arts and Sciences. Bill Bowman brings to the University more than 25 years of business leadership and entrepreneurial experience, a deep love of the Church, and a commitment to living out the faith in the practice of business. This is makes him a wonderful fit for our business school.

As the associate dean for research and global engagement and professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Aaron Dominguez has a remarkable record of advancing research and grant activity. I am confident that he will be a great leader and resource for the School of Arts and Sciences. The school has tended to draw its deans from the fields of arts, letters, and social sciences. It will be a healthy departure to have a dean who is a physicist.

We are also in the final stage of our search for a dean for the Metropolitan School of Professional Studies. We’re currently interviewing candidates and hope to fill the position soon.

I cannot speak of these new hires in our academic leadership without also expressing my deepest gratitude to the faculty who have served in leadership positions while we conducted our searches. For the last two years Claudia Bornholdt has led the School of Arts and Sciences with great competence. This year Brian Engelland, Bill Mattison, and Will Rainford graciously agreed to give their services as interim deans in the Business School, the School of Theology and Religious Studies, and the Metropolitan School, respectively. I am deeply grateful to all them for their service and commitment to the University.

Finally, I would like to express heartfelt thanks to Dr. Peter Shoemaker, vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies and director of the honors program, who will be leaving the University to take a position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ. I am sorry to see Dr. Shoemaker go, but wish him great success in his new position.

Let me mention just two more accomplishments in our academic division this year. At the start of this semester the Institute for Astrophysics and Computational Sciences received a NASA grant for more than $29 million to advance space weather research. The grant, which is a renewal of a 2011 cooperative agreement, is the single largest scientific research grant awarded in Catholic University’s history and more than twice the amount the IACS received in the original agreement. This reflects the strong reputation the IACS has developed for excellent research in astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics. Just last week the physics department opened an on-campus Space Weather Center where students have access to solar monitoring feeds and equipment comparable to what can be found at NASA Goddard.

Research Day

This month the University also hosted our first-ever Research Day. It was a tremendous success. More than 250 faculty, staff, and students presented on topics ranging from musical performance to scriptural exegesis to the rise of ISIS. It was a remarkable showcase of the wonderful and varied work our faculty, staff, students do every day at Catholic University.

At the start of this year we made the decision to make a substantial investment in our Marketing and Enrollment and Advancement divisions. As the academic year comes to a close, we can see those investments already paying off.

We created an Office of Marketing and Communications. In February Elise Italiano joined the University as the new executive director of university communications to strategically promote the university and help raise our public profile. In March Jacquelyn Malcolm joined us as associate vice president for marketing and communications. The first tier of the University’s new website launched at the end of March. The initial feedback on the website has been encouraging. It is our hope that we will start to see returns on these investments in our application figures beginning in 2017.

This year has been the most successful fundraising year in the University’s history. Last year we raised $30 million. This year we had a goal of $35 million and raised more than $56 million. The keystone of this effort was the work of Tim and Steph Busch, for whom we will name our School of Business and Economics. Their own generosity, and their leadership of the School’s board of visitors, will enable us to renovate Maloney Hall and build programming and faculty for the Busch School of Business.

Maloney Hall

These gifts will benefit the entire University, not just the Business School. First, the renovation of Maloney Hall will return to the University 60,000 square feet of academic space and restore a beautiful building, which sits at the entrance to campus. When the Business School moves to Maloney Hall it will open up space for our other schools in McMahon.

Second, we have a commitment of $14 million for the creation of the Institute for Human Ecology, which will support scholarship across the entire University. A proper human ecology, Pope Francis said, is concerned with the health of our civic and economic institutions. It’s also concerned with building livable homes, neighborhoods, public spaces, and cities. Human ecology has a cultural character. Our historic, artistic and cultural patrimony, Francis reminds us, shapes the shared identity of our towns and cities. And it has a moral and anthropological character. As the Holy Father reminded us in Laudato Si’, a human ecology must consider “the relationship between human life and the moral law, which is inscribed in our nature and is necessary for the creation of a more dignified environment.” This is an enormous task. It will require the expertise of all of our departments and schools. “All of us,” the Holy Father said, “can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation” according to our “own culture, experience, involvements and talents.”

The success of our advancement team also demonstrates the wisdom of our strategy of placing dedicated development officers in each of our schools. This will be one of the responsibilities of our new associate vice president of advancement, Bill Warren. Bill comes to Catholic University from the National Geographic Society, where he served as vice president of development. Bill will be responsible for adding major gift officers to each of our schools and our athletics program.

It has been a remarkable year for the University. I am already looking forward to the year ahead.