The Catholic University of America

New CUA President Warmly Greeted by Campus Community

  Garvey at faculty-staff reception

Faculty and staff turned out in great numbers to welcome the new president and hear what he had to say.

View a slideshow of photos from the faculty-staff reception.

Video of Garvey's introduction to the CUA community

On a morning when the university had been effectively shut down by a broken water main, the Great Room B of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center nevertheless was packed with approximately 350 members of CUA’s faculty and staff who came out to warmly welcome new University President John Garvey to campus.

After the opening prayer by outgoing president and newly named Bishop David M. O’Connell and an introduction by Archbishop of Detroit Allen Vigneron, the excited crowd greeted Garvey with sustained applause. Obviously moved, Garvey responded, “It is the greatest honor I have received to be asked to undertake this job and have the privilege of serving as the president of Catholic University.”

Garvey, officially named on June 15, 2010, as CUA’s 15th president, is the third layperson to lead the national university of the Catholic Church. In his introduction, Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit, chair of the Catholic University Board of Trustees, chair of the presidential search committee, and an alumnus of CUA, said, “The man we have found is profoundly equipped, exceptionally equipped, to be our leader. He’s a distinguished jurist, renowned for his scholarship and his teaching, a proven leader in the world of higher education in the United States and he is himself a man of great faith. In President Garvey we have found a man of the Church who will lead the university forward on the basis of what Bishop O’Connell has done.”

Acknowledging Bishop O’Connell’s accomplishments as president of the university, Garvey said, “The appeal of this position for me was much greater than it might have been 10 or 12 years ago, because of the changes that Bishop O’Connell has made at the university and what a great place it has become. In walking around the campus with him, I’ve seen what affection you all hold for him in your hearts. If I can approach that in my term of service I’ll consider myself happy.”

  The outgoing and incoming CUA presidents take a stroll around campus after the reception welcoming John Garvey.

Garvey has 30 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member and administrator in the state schools of Kentucky and Michigan, as well as at Notre Dame and Boston College, both Catholic institutions. However, he said, “All my experience has been in law schools, so there’s a lot I don’t know. In the coming year, I’m going to be listening a lot.

“When I came to Boston College in 1999, I was new to that institution. My plan was to go around listening. ‘Well, John,’ said one faculty member, ‘around here we have a lot of people who talk, but we don’t have a lot who listen.’ So, if Catholic University has a similar deficiency, I hope to supply that.”

In a speech frequently punctuated by laughter from the crowd, Garvey talked about what attracted him to the job, beginning with his and his wife’s commitment to Catholic higher education. “We have five children who collectively have 92 years of Catholic education.”

Beyond that, he also sees much opportunity for CUA to serve the Church and the Catholic community by “raising its own ambitions as an institution of higher education. If we want our voices to be heard, we need to be better than our academic counterparts,” he said, adding that he looked forward to working with everyone on campus to achieve that goal.

But most important, he said, “We must never forget that this university exists in the first and the last instance for its students. What we are doing is preparing these young people for their futures of service to the Church and the country.”

Prior to moving on to a reception in his honor in Great Room A, Garvey said, “I can’t tell you how heartwarming it is to see such a large crowd of you in spite of the fact that there is no water. I know what a sacrifice it is and I don’t want to keep you.” But the crowd was in no hurry to leave, forming a line of well-wishers that kept growing. An hour and a half later, Garvey, his wife, Jeanne, and Bishop O’Connell left the Pryzbyla Center, late for their luncheon.

Garvey assumes the presidency effective July 1.