October 02, 2019
Dear Members of the Catholic University Community,
The secret is out.
For the past four years our comprehensive campaign for Catholic University has been in what is known as “the quiet phase.” During this phase we reached out individually to friends and benefactors, shared our vision, and asked them to invest in the future of Catholic University. It was a very successful beginning. We were able to raise $259 million in gifts and commitments.
Last Thursday we officially launched the public phase of Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University. We held two celebrations. One was a black tie dinner at the Mellon Auditorium downtown. We hosted 400 guests, including many of our largest benefactors, five bishops, all the deans and senior administrators, 40 members of the faculty, and 50 students. It was a spectacular tribute to the many accomplishments and ambitious plans of the University.
We announced our goal for this campaign: to raise $400 million by 2022. We also recognized a new gift commitment of $13 million facilitated by Trustee Leonard Leo from an anonymous donor. The gift will provide five years of funding for the Institute for Human Ecology and support faculty in the Busch School of Business.
This much needed financial support will lift up Catholic University in ways we couldn’t have dreamed of not so long ago. The Campaign's funding priorities are organized under three initiatives: Academic Environment, Student Success, and Faculty Excellence.
I invite you to take a moment to watch the video below, and to visit the Light the Way website. We are living a transformational moment at this University, and I hope you will help us Light the Way.
On Friday we continued the celebration with the first Cardinal Fest. This event attracted almost 1,200 members of our community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni. There were performances by four student groups, the announcement of the campaign goal, its progress to date, and fireworks.
Cardinal weekend followed with 1,644 alumni and their guests back for their reunions. Alumni celebrating reunions gave $1,686,225 to the University during their reunion year.
This year we established a new tradition: awarding a Leader Cup for the class who raised the most money (1984) and an Alumni Cup for the largest number of donors (1969). The Reunion Cup was given to the Class of 2014 for the most class members attending their reunion event.
During the entire weekend I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support and love for Catholic University.
The Right Choice
Choosing a university is a big decision. To a great extent, it determines future career opportunities. College is also where students begin lifelong friendships, and sometimes meet a future spouse. That’s why it’s important to choose carefully.
As President of Catholic University, I want our students to feel confident they made the right decision. I want them to find a home here at Catholic University, and I want to hand them a well earned degree on their way out.
For this reason, we track retention rates. It tells us how many freshmen liked Catholic University enough to come back for another year, and how many continue through to graduation.
A lot goes into good retention rates, and I am happy to report that our efforts are bearing fruit. Since 2010, our first-to-second year retention rates have risen by more than seven percentage points. This year we've set historic highs for all three of our key retention rates.
Freshman-to-sophomore retention for the class that entered in 2018 is 87.64%. This is the highest rate we’ve seen since we began to track these numbers. The previous high was set in 1991 at 87.28%.
Freshman-to-junior retention for the class that entered in 2017 is 82.05%. This is the third year running that we have surpassed historic highs for this rate.
Freshman-to-senior retention rate is 76.76%, again the highest we have on record. The previous high (76.51%) was set by the class that entered in 2014.
This accomplishment is a testament to the hard work of every office, department, school, and ministry to support our students and foster a sense of community on campus. It reflects the environment of welcome, support, academic rigor, and fun that the students themselves set for other students. Thank you for all you do.
PS: If you want even more news from the President's Office, follow me on Twitter @CatholicPres.