Dear Catholic University Community,
I became President of The Catholic University of America in 2010 hoping I could contribute something to building up the institution. I did not foresee how much I would fall in love with it.
The last eleven years have been a time of tremendous growth. We have reinvigorated our Catholic intellectual life by recruiting hundreds of faculty and professional staff and by establishing the Busch and Conway Schools. We have transformed student life in residence halls, dining, and athletics, with results that are evident in retention. We have rebuilt the neighborhood and the campus from Carlini Field to Monroe St. Market. We have greatly increased the wealth of the University by raising more than half a billion dollars and nearly doubling our total assets. And we have made much of this possible by changing our form of corporate governance to ensure episcopal oversight while entrusting the laity with leadership.
We have sailed over some rough seas. Covid-19 was one of the most difficult crises in the University’s 134-year history. We have overcome the medical and financial challenges it presented through the intelligence, hard work, and charity of our people. I am thankful I had the opportunity to lead Catholic University through this period, because it gave me the chance to see close up what makes the school so special.
I think this University is the best place in the world for a young person to attend college. This is in part because we have the best students. I teach a class every year to freshmen, and it has been the best part of my job. Living on campus has allowed Jeanne and me to see students at Mass in the morning and in the President’s Office during the day. Students come to Nugent to borrow our sleds and walk our dog. We attend their concerts and games, work with them on service days, and march with them for life and other worthy causes. These are daily occurrences, and every day they give me just a little more pride in our University.
In my inaugural address I quoted St. John Newman, who said on becoming rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, “Neither by my habits of life, nor by vigour of age, am I fitted for the task of authority, or of rule, or of initiation. I do but aspire, if strength is given me, to be your minister in a work which must employ younger minds and stronger lives than mine.” The time has come to turn the responsibility over to those younger minds and stronger lives. About six months ago I began a conversation with the board of trustees about stepping down at the end of this academic year. The board recently accepted my request, and I write today to inform you that I will end my service as President next June 30.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as President of this University. I am grateful to the bishops, and to the board of trustees, for their support and collaboration in building a strong foundation for the University’s future.
Jeanne joins me in saying that you will always be a part of our lives. We will keep you in our prayers, and hope that you will remember us in yours.
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