President John Garvey led Catholic University through an extensive period of campus transformation that lifted up nearly every aspect of the University. 

Highlights of President Garvey's Tenure

At a Glance

  • Student retention increased from 79 percent to 88 percent.
  • Most successful fundraising era in University history with over $500 million in donations and grants.
  • Grew the University assets to over $900 million.
  • Grew research grants to $112 million in the past year.
  • Transformed campus through a $200 million Monroe Street Market, campus-wide energy replacement program, building renovations, and new construction.
  • Two new schools, eight new centers and institutes, and two new program locations, in Alexandria, Va., and Tucson, Az.

Catholic mission and identity a priority.

President Garvey speaks at intellect and virtue symposium

In his inaugural address President Garvey committed to promote a “serious Catholic intellectual culture” at the University, with deans, faculty, and staff committed to the vision of Catholic higher education articulated in Ex Corde Ecclesiae and Veritatis Gaudium. Today Catholic University is a global research university that is firmly grounded in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

Students come first.

President Garvey chatting with orientation advisors

President Garvey prioritized the student experience, investing in capital projects such as residence hall updates, new athletic fields, facilities, and sports programs. A new dining hall is currently under construction. Investments were made in the on-campus counseling center and the Center for Academic and Career Success.

During his presidency the University created the Center for Cultural Engagement to provide support for students from diverse backgrounds, and launched the Take Flight Program for first-generation college students. In fall 2020 President Garvey established the Sr. Thea Bowman Committee to address diversity across all parts of University life. In 2021 he named a special assistant to oversee diversity initiatives.

Catholic University has increased student retention rates from 79 percent to 88 percent.

Academic growth.

President Garvey at Research Day

Since 2013 two new schools have been created at Catholic University – the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, and the Busch School of Business. Eight new centers and institutes have been launched. The Conway School of Nursing is consistently rated one of the top nursing schools in the nation. This fall the University will break ground for a new nursing and science building.

President Garvey established University Research Day in 2016. In 2021, the University received its largest single research grant (more than $64 million). The University recently established new programs in Alexandria, Va. (to serve adult learners) and in Tucson, Az. (to bring affordable Catholic higher education to a region that is largely Latino).

Most successful era of fundraising in history.

Unveiling of Conway School of Nursing Sign

President Garvey has led the most successful era of fundraising in University history, raising more than $500 million in gifts and grants, and growing the University’s assets to nearly $1 billion. He has led efforts to advance Catholic University on the path to becoming a top-tier research institution. Last year Catholic University raised $112 million in research grants. 

He was instrumental in restructuring the University’s Board of Trustees from a primarily clergy-led organization to one that also relies on significant lay leadership

Campus transformed.

Garvey in front of dining hall construction

President Garvey led expansive revitalization projects outlined in a 15-year master plan (approved by the District of Columbia) that included the $200 million Monroe Street Market mixed-use development on the edge of campus. It has brought restaurants and apartment living to the neighborhood.  Renovations, construction, and smaller upgrades have occurred all across campus.

Environmental sustainability.

Solar panels on top of a campus building

The University has become an environmental leader in higher education. The 2016-21 Energy Project replaced antiquated heating systems with energy efficient systems, and reduced costs and consumption of natural gas, electricity, and water. One hundred percent of the campus’s electricity is now purchased with renewable energy credits. The campus is consistently recognized as a “best green college” for its tree coverage and other environmentally conscious designs. A five-year sustainability plan is guiding the campus forward.

Professional skills for leaders in the Church.

Priests in class

President Garvey has encouraged the University to serve the broader Church. Today, through collaboration of several programs and coordination by The Catholic Project, the University now offers a certificate in child protection and safe environments. The Business School has created an online master’s in ecclesiastical administration and management for seminarians and newly ordained priests, to give them the skills they need to manage the challenges of today’s parishes and Church organizations.