Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
Faculty Town Hall Meeting, Spring 2008
January 18, 2008
It’s been wonderful to watch a quiet campus come alive again with activity and energy as we launch another semester. And I am grateful for this opportunity to talk with you about a variety of issues related to our quality and standing as one of our nation’s great research university.
Of course, nothing we do on the Hilltop would be possible without your dedication to the mission and purpose of this university. In particular, your scholarship, your teaching and your service, allows us to attract an extraordinary pool of undergraduate applicants. This year we have already received more than 18,500 applications for admission—some 14% more than the record.
At the Medical School, we have received 11,236 applications—topping last year’s 10,643…which was also a record number. And at the Law School, they project 10,500 applications, which is consistent with last year.
Achievements: Awards and Publications
Your contributions to Georgetown—your accomplishments, your talents, your abilities—have also resulted in an extraordinary number of awards and publications. And I’d like to highlight some of the recent achievements of our faculty from across the University. This list is not nearly comprehensive, but it is representative of your work and service.
Associate Professor Jordan A. Sand, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to Tokyo for the 2007-2008 academic year.
Professor John Esposito, Director of our Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, explores seven major religious traditions in the book he co-authored, “Religion and Globalization: World Religions in Historical Perspective.”
Associate Professor of Italian, Laura Benedetti, looks at how literature helped shape, and was influenced by, ideas of motherhood in 20th century Italy in her new book, “The Tigress in the Snow: Motherhood and Literature in Twentieth-Century Italy.”
Associate Professor Daniel Byman, Director of the Security Studies Program and the Center for Peace and Security Studies, offers a new approach to combating terrorism in “The Five Front War: The Better Way to Fight Global Jihad.”
At the Law Center, Professor Philip Schrag has won the Deborah L. Rhode Award from the Association of American Law Schools for his efforts to help law students pursue public interest careers.
Additionally, Professor Neal Katyal was recognized for his role in the landmark Supreme Court case, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, with two awards. Katyal, the lead attorney in the case, was presented the Roger Baldwin Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts Foundation, and the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice.
At the McDonough School of Business, Professor Douglas McCabe received the “Excellence in Education Award” from the Labor and Employment Relations Association, in recognition of his outstanding teaching of labor relations, human resource management and organizational behavior.
At the Medical Center, Professor Kenneth Dretchen, Chair of the Pharmacology Department, has been named to the National Defense Science Board by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Robert Friedland, Associate Professor of Health Systems Administration, was named the new Chair of the Center for Health Policy Development, the governing body of the National Academy for State Health Policy.
Christopher Albanese, Assistant Professor of Oncology, received a $1.5 million award from the National Cancer Institute to conduct comprehensive analysis on PTEN-based prostate cancer.
And Frank Y. Wong—an Associate Professor in the Department of International Health at the School of Nursing and Health Studies—recently received a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted disease among Chinese migrants and to explore related psychological issues. He will work with colleagues at Fudan University’s School of Public Health, and the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
We recognize the many contributions you make to our campus and to our community. And we recognize the fundamental importance of providing the basic platform that enables us to both recruit and retain the very best faculty—this has been a deep commitment now for many years. In support of that commitment, we are now preparing our budget for the Board of Directors. In it, the increase for ordinary faculty in the 2009 plan is 4.19%--which represents the rate of inflation as of June 2007, plus a 1.5% margin. Moreover, there is an additional .75% for equity adjustments, which brings the total faculty salary increase to 4.94%.
As we work to properly recognize our faculty, we also continue to recruit the finest academic leadership. As many of you are aware, Dr. Louis Weiner has assumed his new role as Director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Formerly, Dr. Weiner was Chairman of the Medical Oncology Department at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He is a specialist in advanced gastrointestinal cancers, and he comes to Georgetown with more than 20 years of experience as a researcher and clinician.
The country took notice when we recruited Dr. Weiner to Lombardi. His appointment will be a huge asset when we renew our National Cancer Institute core grant in 2009…and to our MedStar partnership. We all look forward to the leadership and vision he will bring to our community.
There are also two recent transitions here on the Hilltop. Judy Feder has stepped down as Dean of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. I would like to acknowledge the tremendous role that Judy played in strengthening our public policy program, and I am deeply grateful for her leadership.
I am also happy to report that Timothy Barbari, Dean of the Graduate School and Associate Provost for Research for the Main Campus, will serve as interim Dean of the GPPI. As you know, as part of his role as Dean, Tim has had oversight of GPPI, and so he is well informed on the key issues. I have every confidence that he will be able to provide outstanding leadership of the Institute.
Additionally, Father Tim Godfrey, Director of Campus Ministry, will be stepping down from this position at the end of the academic year to pursue further graduate study. We are all truly grateful for his leadership, his service—and his invaluable work in helping our students engage with their faith and enhance their spirituality. A search committee, led by Father Howard Gray, has been formed to recruit his successor.
As you are aware, we are in the midst of the largest capital expansion in our history.
We are continuing our progress on a new Science Center and—pending the timely receipt of public approvals—we hope to begin utility and site work in May. The projected opening remains 2010 or 2011.
I’m also happy to tell you that construction for the McDonough School of Business is progressing very well. The building should be completed in the spring of 2009, and be ready for occupancy by summer 2009.
We will also be looking to upgrade our athletic facilities…and will be fundraising for completion of the Multi-Sport Field. I know that our athletics facilities require upgrades in order to meet the needs of our student athletes and coaches. We are examining several options to alleviate the current stress on our facilities, and I hope to have something more definitive to report soon.
With the guidance of Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Spiros Dimolitsas, and the Advisory Committee on Sustainability—led by Graduate School Dean Tim Barbari and Vice President for Facilities and Student Housing Karen Frank—we are also moving to ensure that all future construction on campus, like the Science Center, will meet LEED standards—the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. This will help to promote sustainability and address the challenge of global warming.
Additionally, the Advisory Committee is developing an educational program to convey our individual and collective opportunities for reducing our energy usage and carbon footprint…and for preserving the environment.
As we work to enhance and improve our campus, a number of other important developments have occurred on the Hilltop in recent months. Our Vice President for University Safety, Rocco DelMonaco, continues to work with the Metropolitan Police Department and DPS to enhance patrols where crimes are most likely to occur. Over the last semester, additional surveillance cameras were installed on campus; lighting was improved in dark areas; foot patrols were increased in areas of likely crime; and we coordinated with MPD to patrol off-campus areas and to identify likely criminal suspects.
Additionally, DPS patrol officers will be wearing safety vests and—as I spoke about at last semester’s Town Hall—will be trained and certified to carry batons and mace over the next year. Before any officer carries a baton or mace, he or she must complete certification training— as well as go through an intensive Law Enforcement Academy training program. We’re taking this step after looking at the best practices of campus police, nationwide…and to make sure that our campus police officers have the tools they need to do their job.
In another effort to ensure the safety of our campus community—and after consultation with representatives of all campuses—changes to the GUTS shuttle stops were made last semester. We realize that this rerouting has caused difficulties and inconvenience for some, and we are working with individuals with physical challenges on an individual basis to accommodate them.
We will continue to look at this issue—and plan for the safest way to mix pedestrian and vehicular traffic on campus. This is not the last step in our efforts…just the next step. But with 16 buses running through the main campus—and an additional one at the Law Center—for 19 hours a day, (shuttles operate from 5:00 AM to midnight) we simply could not continue the established routes and also ensure pedestrian safety—our primary concern—in heavily trafficked areas of campus.
As you are aware, the university has launched a new initiative to strengthen the climate and resources for students in the LGBTQ community. This has been a comprehensive effort, with about 40 students, faculty, senior administrators and members of the Jesuit community involved through three working groups. One of the groups has already made recommendations to me and the Provost about how to improve our system of reporting and notification of problematic incidents. In the next two weeks, we will receive recommendations on how to best educate students about respect and inclusiveness and the establishment of a new resource center. And I would like to thank: Tommaso Astarita, Ricardo Ortiz, Father Chris Steck, Wayne Davis, Professor Emeritus Ellen Henederson, Sandra Calvert, Jose Luis Guerrero and Kathleen Maass Weigert for serving as members of our working groups.
Promoting a Respectful Community Campus
As you know, another effort to help ensure a welcoming campus environment is our online training course, “Promoting a Respectful Campus Community.” I want to thank everyone who has completed this course, and I do know that some people have experienced difficulties accessing the program. We have spoken with the vendor, and will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to complete the course.
Concerning our next Capital Campaign, we are now in the “quiet phase.” We expect to enter the public phase of the campaign in 18 months. We are considering a working goal of $1.5 billion. Among the top priorities will be:
Endowing faculty chairs; increasing the depth of our science program; deepening our historic commitment to need-blind admissions and meeting full demonstrated need; and taking advantage of our unique strengths and potential to advance interreligious understanding.
I am glad to confirm that the FY07 fundraising year was among the strongest ever—with almost $130 million in new commitments. Particularly notable is a $10 million gift from Linda and Timothy O’Neill to create a center for the study of global and national health law…
…And a $4.5 million gift from Elizabeth Richard von Matsch to support biomedical research. Just yesterday we recognized the first holder of the new von Matsch Chair, Dr. Milton Brown, who is a true visionary in medicinal chemistry.
I’m also extremely glad to report that the first part of FY08 has been our best six months—ever—in terms of both new commitments: Almost $87 million…and cash received: Over $75 million.
Additionally, our endowment hit $1 billion in FY 2007, with a 23% return on investments. Its performance has increased each year since we created our Endowment Office and hired a Chief Investment Officer, Larry Kochard, in 2004. Last November, in recognition of the recent gains to the university's endowment, Georgetown received the “Large Endowment of the Year Award” at the 2007 Non-Profit Awards for Excellence.
Although this could never be a comprehensive update on all of the developments occurring on the Hilltop, I hope it gives you a good picture of where we find ourselves at this moment in time.
I now want to take a few moments to look forward—to outline opportunities that will help advance our mission…enhance our tradition…and further promote academic excellence. I believe these opportunities—these priorities—will come in three areas: Improving our Academic and Research Competitiveness; Leveraging our position in Washington DC and our academic expertise to address the important issues of our time; and Strengthening our Financial Platform.
Improving our Academic and Research Competitiveness
In order to improve our academic and research competitiveness, one of our most important priorities is to strengthen our faculty by recruiting and retaining the very best scholars and researchers. Recruitment is a key concern, given that one-third of our faculty are eligible to retire in the next decade. And retention is crucial because—with increasing frequency—our peer institutions make overtures to some of the most distinguished members of our community.
As we work to recruit and retain faculty, we will also be working to enhance our academic competitiveness by strengthening our Doctoral programs…expanding our research portfolio…and undertaking an intensive examination of our undergraduate curriculum that is being led by Provost O'Donnell.
But it is impossible to discuss strengthening our undergraduate education without also discussing strengthening the sciences on the Hilltop—making it a priority in terms of physical space…and in the place of science in the curriculum. I know that our faculty are working hard to build a more prominent place for the sciences on the Hilltop…and our advancement efforts will reflect the growing prominence of science at Georgetown.
Of course, to sustain Georgetown’s tradition of academic excellence—to improve our academic competitiveness— we must also ensure that Georgetown remains open and accessible to outstanding young women and men, regardless of their financial circumstance. This helps ensure that our community is enriched by the contributions and talents of exceptional students who, without assistance, may not have been able to join us on the Hilltop. As we consider our future, providing adequate financial aid will continue to be a top priority for Georgetown, and a task force to examine access and accessibility will likely be launched this spring.
Leveraging our Position in Washington DC and our Academic Expertise to Address the Important Issues of our Time
As we work to improve academic and research competitiveness, we’ll also be working to leverage our position in Washington DC—and our academic expertise—to address the important issues of our time. You’ve heard me talk about some of these issues—globalization, the life sciences, and interreligious dialogue—in the past. Today I want to briefly discuss with you public policy.
Building on our efforts in public policy will allow us to use our resources to engage with the most pressing issues of the day. Our graduate program in Public Policy is poised to emerge as a leader in the field of policy studies. And we will continue on our present trajectory to strengthen our Public Policy Institute and to plan for its future.
Later this month, we are convening a conference—which will include Dean Aleinikoff; members of the Reflective Engagement Steering Committee; and invited guests such as Nancy Cantor, the President of Syracuse University and Stanley Katz, Director of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies at Princeton—to discuss how a greater emphasis on public scholarship might positively influence the public discourse. We will also examine how a “Center for Public Scholarship” might make an important contribution at Georgetown.
Strengthening our Financial Platform
Of course, all of our efforts depend—in part—on our third priority: Strengthening our financial platform. With strong leadership from our Chief Financial Officer, Chris Augostini, we have already significantly strengthened the University's financial framework. We are working toward a balanced budget, and we have improved our overall operating performance…increased our liquidity levels…improved our bond rating…and grown our endowment.
And we have been able to do this while still making strategic investments into key areas such as faculty salaries; a new science center as part of the largest capital campaign in our history; continued maintenance of our physical plant; and sustaining our research portfolio—particularly at the Medical Center. As I said earlier, our new budget will be submitted to the Board of Directors in four weeks, and we will continue to work to improve the overall financial framework.
I know that strengthening our financial platform—as well as improving our academic and research competitiveness…and leveraging our location and academic expertise—will help us advance and promote our mission…our heritage… and our tradition of academic excellence…
…And I also know that none of this will be possible without the ideas and input…the efforts and extraordinary abilities of our faculty—of all of you who help make the Hilltop a truly unique and extraordinary place in higher education…
…You are the foundation on which Georgetown has built its success. I thank you for your continued scholarship, service and sustained engagement in the lives of our students… and now I’d like to hear your questions and comments…