By John Garvey, President
The Catholic University of America Magazine, Summer 2012

Summer is here. Campus has quieted down, and we are reflecting on the passing of yet another academic year.

Summer meant two things to Jeanne and me when our kids were young. First, it meant we spent more time together as a family. The kids were off from school, and my teaching schedule lightened. As things slowed down,I would notice how much they had grown and changed since the previous summer.

Summer also meant taking note of all the changes to our house during the academic year. Unlike the kids, many of these changes were not for the better. I would take stock of leaky faucets and chipping paint, and lay out a plan for necessary improvements. During a few summers I built rooms in our house to accommodate our growing family. One summer I built a fence, another — a brick wall.

There was a good lesson in those summer home improvements: to keep a house running, you have to take stock of where you are and where you want to be. You have to have a plan. These days I don’t need to do repairs on the house. Nugent Hall is cared for by the wonderful facilities and maintenance staff at Catholic University. But running a university requires its own “home improvement” plan. During the past year, University administrators, with the help of our faculty, staff, students, and the Brookland community, have devised two plans for the improvement of the University. They are called our Strategic Plan and Master Plan, and they are excellent. Let me tell you a few things about each.

Our Strategic Plan, adopted by our Board of Trustees in December, is the fruit of more than a year of discussion, reflection, and dialogue with students, faculty, and staff. The plan contains more than 200 specific action items to help us accomplish our four main goals over the next 10 years. The four goals are: Promote the Distinctive Catholic Culture of the University; Strengthen Academic Excellence; Enhance Student Collegiate Experience; and Improve the Experience of Work. 

Our 15-year Master Plan, developed in tandem with the Strategic Plan, provides for the improvement of our physical plant and facilities. The Master Plan received approval from the D.C. Zoning Commission in April, and its final approval from our board in June. As in our Strategic Plan, our Master Plan lays out some broad goals. The campus will have more green space and better sight lines. Beautiful sacred spaces will be more visible, and the campus will become more pedestrian-friendly. 

Now that we have finalized these plans, it is time to get going. We have already begun with some initiatives to improve our undergraduate experience, like extending hours in Mullen Library and Kane Student Fitness Center. We are investigating the possibility of creating a school of business to support growing demand for business education among undergraduates. In a year or two, a beautiful, grassy quad will replace McMahon parking lot, and we will develop new parking on the land that we acquired in 2004, across from Hartke Theatre. On that parcel of land we will also open a tree-lined entrance to the main campus from North Capitol Street.

Both masterful plans are available for viewing on our website ( and I urge you to check them out. Like all good home improvement plans, they will help us to build a better, brighter, more beautiful future for Catholic University.