Consider The Catholic University of America
Parents and teachers tell me that our high school students begin to discern their choice of a college early.
So, I have a recommendation: think about The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C.
I admit a bias: I cherish my three enlightening years there as a young priest graduate student, 1979-82. I’m a proud alumnus!
I’m also a member of the board of trustees, and have been for eight years. So, I’ve seen CUA from the ground up, as a student, and from the roof down, as a trustee. And I still love her!
Her value is in those three words: Catholic – University – America.
Let’s start with “America.” The address of the university counts! To study in our nation’s capital, with the advantage of other prestigious universities nearby, the famed archives, Smithsonian Museum, theatre, entertainment, art, the diplomatic community, the monuments, and, of course, as the locus of American history and the seat of government, is a real plus.
How about “university.” I recently read an article claiming that CUA was not attracting students because of its rigorous academic standards. But, isn’t that why students go to college?
I know and admire many of CUA’s professors. Two of them are priests from this archdiocese, acclaimed for their scholarship. The others I know personally are academics of passion and skill. Quite a few of CUA’s departments – – nursing, social work, music, drama, architecture, engineering, classical languages, philosophy, and theology – – enjoy international acclaim.
Finally, “Catholic.” A cynic, admittedly agnostic, once prodded me, asking how a university can be Catholic? I replied, “Well, since the Church founded universities, I guess rather easily!”
Jesus tells us, “The truth shall set you free!” Expect to find solid learning that forms a soul, mind, heart, and body at the only university in the country under the patronage of our bishops.
Earlier this week I was at the trustees’ meeting. At the session of the committee on student affairs, on which I serve, we heard six students share with us their experience at CUA, and to answer our questions.
One of the students was not a Catholic at all, but told us of the diversity of the campus, men and women of all faiths, or none at all, who felt at home and encouraged in their learning. Another described how groups on campus calmly and thoughtfully came together to discuss gun violence, racism, immigration, and political divisiveness. All spoke of the service projects in which they participated, the opportunities for prayer, retreats, the sacraments and excellent courses in theology. They praised a president who was “always around and very approachable,” who actually taught a course their first year, and a faculty personally concerned, eager to impart not only knowledge but wisdom.
I thought to myself, “That is Catholic!”
True, the university has challenges, like all institutions of higher learning – – especially Catholic ones, as this week’s America magazine details – – report: fewer students applying, high costs, campus renovation and expansion, and . . . money! However, I was impressed at CUA by ongoing plans for construction, the improvement of the surrounding neighborhood, and the most successful year ever in money raising. I was wishing I were twenty-nine again and off to study at this splendid university, on such a radiant campus.
What a gift, high school parents and students, that we have such an expanded and appealing menu of colleges to which we can apply.
Make sure The Catholic University of America is on that menu!