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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

Faculty Town Hall -- Spring 2011

ICC Auditorium
February 3, 2011

Introduction

Good afternoon. I am grateful for this opportunity to be together. As has been my practice for the past few years, I am pleased to have this opportunity to share with you some background regarding developments in our community over the course of the past four months, since we were last together like this in the fall. I will speak for approximately twenty minutes and then will be happy to take your questions on any issues of the day. It is a privilege to be here and I am grateful for each of your many contributions to this community. Again, I am grateful to be with you this afternoon.

For the past two years, as we have responded to the challenges that emerged as a result of the global financial crisis, my comments have focused on our response. The gradual strengthening of the national economy lays a more solid foundation for the productive and strategic growth we anticipate in the coming years. I look forward to sharing with you aspects of this growth here today. Before doing so, I would like to discuss updates on a number of topics.

Cairo

It is with deep appreciation that I would like to thank all of our colleagues in Qatar, and those here in Washington, who supported the university’s efforts to safely move all fifteen of our students abroad in Egypt from Cairo to the SFS-Q campus in Doha earlier this week. I also am grateful to the University’s Emergency Response Team, University Safety, and the Office of International Programs for their ongoing attention to the safety and wellbeing of our students.

I especially wish to thank Kathy Bellows and Laurie Monarch of our Office of International Programs for their exceptional leadership and Rocky Delmonaco, our Vice President of Public Safety, who was on the ground in Doha this past weekend and Mehran Kamrava, the interim dean of SFS-Q. We made a decision to move our students at noon on Sunday, here in Washington, and they were safe, on the ground in Doha by noon on Monday. This performance is an example of Georgetown at its very best.

Under the Provost’s leadership, currently we are working with each student to make this a successful semester.  I appreciate all that many of you are doing to make that possible.

We were able to speak with our students on Tuesday morning via telepresence and they remain in good spirits, though very worried about their friends, peers and colleagues who remain in Cairo.   As much as I am grateful for the fact that our students are safe, the continued unrest in Egypt is reason for concern. I know that we will continue to monitor the situation closely as a university community and will seek to find productive ways of understanding the events at hand. Our thoughts and prayers remain with those in the midst of the current conflict.

Transitions

Since our time together in the fall, there have been several transitions within the Georgetown University community. I first would like to welcome R. Bartley Moore (F’87) and Paul R. O’Neill (C’86, G’96) in their permanent leadership roles for the Office of Advancement. Bart has been appointed Vice President for Advancement, and Paul has been appointed Chief Operating Officer.  As you know, both have served with notable success in these roles in an interim capacity since February 2010, and I am deeply grateful for their unflagging work on behalf of our community, especially as we work towards the public phase of the capital campaign, launching in the fall of 2011.

I am also pleased to report that a search committee has been convened to determine the next dean of Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. I am grateful to Committee Chair, Professor Bardia Kamrad, and the entire search committee for their ongoing efforts in this endeavor.

Our search for the permanent Dean in the School of Nursing and Health Studies also continues to make progress. I wish like to thank Interim Dean, Julie DeLioia, for her leadership and the entire search committee under the guidance of Dr. James Welsh, Assistant Vice President for Student Health and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine, for their contribution.

We also have moved forward in our search for a new dean of the School of Foreign Service in Qatar. I am grateful to search committee chair, Professor David Edelstein, of the School of Foreign Service, and the entire search committee for their continuing efforts.

I also would like to express my gratitude to two leaders here on the Hilltop who will transition to new ventures. Last fall, Georgetown University’s Chief Investment Officer, Larry Kochard, was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the University of Virginia’s Investment Management Company as well as a member of the University’s Board of Members, effective January 1. I am grateful to Chief Financial Officer, Chris Augostini, for leading the search process to fill the CIO post, and anticipate that our next CIO will build on Larry’s successes to continue strengthening the University’s endowment and investments into the future.

Georgetown also has gained tremendously from the deep engagement of Dan Porterfield, Senior Vice President for Strategic Development and Assistant Professor of English, in nearly every aspect of this community. Last November, Dan was named the 15th president of Franklin and Marshall College by its Board of Trustees, effective March 1. I know that his presence at Franklin and Marshall will make it a stronger institution, as he has similarly strengthened this community over the past fourteen years. I look forward to joining the entire Georgetown Community in celebrating Dan’s time here later this month.

Recognition

I also, at this time, would like to recognize the faculty leaders who have been named the inaugural holders of four newly established Chairs made possible through the generosity of Robert L. McDevitt (C'40). Mr. McDevitt, who passed away in 2008, directed that a portion of his estate establish a fund to endow named Chairs at Georgetown, with particular emphasis on disciplines that reflect his deep Catholic faith, long-standing interest in science and technology, and commitment to the University. By naming Professor Mark C. Murphy, Professor Ophir Frieder, Professor James Freericks and Professor of Law Milton C. Regan, inaugural holders of the McDevitt Chairs, I would like to recognize and honor their outstanding record of teaching, scholarship, and leadership. I know their dedication in these roles will be a wonderful tribute to Robert McDevitt and his late wife, Catherine.

Admissions

It is the commitment and extraordinary achievements of Georgetown’s faculty that bring us the nation’s top students. I'm happy to report that undergraduate admissions – representative of the desire of young people to join the pursuit of academic excellence that takes place within this community – remains strong. 

Undergraduate applications through Georgetown's non-binding early action program represent the largest pool ever received with over 6,600 applicants: a 9 percent increase over last year’s number. We admitted an extremely talented group of 1,122 students, representing just 17 percent of applicants. We also received over 19,300 regular applications this year, a 7 percent increase over last year’s applicant pool and the deepest pool in our history. I know now that nearly 40 years into this work, it’s quite an extraordinary achievement.

It’s important to note two things about this performance. Charlie, as you know, has been a leader in the field for nearly four decades. Among his peers, he is one of the most senior people in the business. We do two things here that are deeply grounded in the values of this institution and represent core kinds of commitments that we have to our young people, which aren’t necessarily to the advantage of somebody in Charlie’s role. But there are two things that he has maintained a steadfast commitment to in terms of our admissions process.

I referenced one of them earlier. I used the phrase, “non-binding early action program.” For those of you who have children who have gone through these kinds of processes, you know that many of our peers have binding early decision processes. Whenever you hear those phrases, “binding early decision” and “non-binding early action,” they have very precise meanings. In Georgetown’s case, we will give students an early indication, and we do that through our early-action program. But then they have until May to make the decision as to whether they are coming to Georgetown. We do that because we think that at seventeen or eighteen years of age, five or six months can make a big difference and really can be important in terms of making the best possible decision. This is something that Charlie has championed for years. A number of other leading institutions have adopted the same policy. But a number of other universities remain committed to early decision practices, and they do this for competitive reasons in the context in which they are operating. We understand this, but we have decided to take a different approach.

The other piece is that we actually require all 19,300 applicants to fill out a distinctive Georgetown application. And again, if you’ve had children who have gone through this, it’s far more common to use what’s called the “common application.” You just fill out one application and then designate which schools you want to send it to. Truly, Charlie’s numbers could be double what they are if we used the common application. But it’s part of his belief that if you’re really interested in Georgetown, then you ought to go through the trouble of filling out our form, writing out our essays and doing it our way.

And so Charlie’s 19,300 is the largest pool in our history. And it’s a great tribute to him to have this achievement.

Capital Projects

The students who join this community next fall will be enriched by the University’s continuing efforts to undertake capital projects that strengthen the student and faculty experience and bolster Georgetown’s overall competitiveness among our peers. I am pleased to report that progress on the new Science Center remains on track: We anticipate opening the building in the fall of 2012. 

I would like to thank the many members of the faculty who continue to offer their support through each stage of the construction process, as well as Provost O’Donnell and Chris Augostini for developing a strong financial framework to support ongoing operating costs once the science center opens.

I also am grateful to the members of our faculty in Doha, Qatar who have contributed to the creation of a new home for our School of Foreign Service in Education City. I will join them in about a week’s time to officially open the building in a ceremony including students, community-members and supporters. The building, which includes classrooms, offices, a library and study rooms for more than 200 undergraduate and graduate students, will allow our students in Doha to flourish and more fully enjoy “the Georgetown experience.”

Campus Plan

Over the last two years, numerous members of our faculty and staff, in conjunction with our neighbors, also have given thoughtful and detailed consideration to the composition of the Main Campus over the next ten years. These efforts resulted in our next ten-year Campus Plan, which Georgetown University filed with the Zoning Commission of Washington, D.C. on December 30. At this juncture, a formal approval process is underway, which will include a hearing with the Zoning Commission in mid-April.

Self-Assessment

The same kind of strategic, measured consideration of Georgetown’s present status and goals for the future that has factored into the ten-year Campus Plan is being pursued as part of the requirements of accreditation according to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

The current Middle States self-study focuses on four key standards of reassessment, including planning, institutional assessment, general education and assessment of student learning. Later this spring, a draft of the self-study report will be assembled followed by an outside evaluation in the spring of 2012. I would like to thank Associate Provost Marjory Blumenthal, Randy Bass, Executive Director of CNDLS and Assistant Provost for Teaching and Learning Initiatives, the Middle States steering committee, and all members of the five Middle States working groups for their ongoing self-study efforts.

A yearlong, campus-wide effort to study Georgetown’s athletics program as part of the NCAA Division I athletics certification program also has begun. The study covers governance and commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, gender and diversity issues and student-athlete wellbeing.

The NCAA initiated this process in the early 1990’s.  Once a decade we are asked to conduct this review. This is our third review. I am grateful to Jane Genster, and the steering committee for leading this self-study endeavor.

Self-assessments also are occurring at the School of Medicine and the Law Center, where reaccreditation processes are underway with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the American Bar Association, respectively. I would like to thank the leaders of both of these processes, Howard Federoff and Stephen Mitchell, as well as Bill Treanor at the Law Center, for their continued efforts.

Finances and Advancement

In the fall, I detailed the ways in which Georgetown’s response to the financial crisis has allowed the University to secure a degree of economic stability and to continue sustaining educational excellence for our faculty, staff and students.

The decisive measures that have been taken since the spring of 2008, combined with the gradual improvement of the national economic climate, will allow the University to pursue our priorities with increased intensity and focus over the coming year.

Part of the success of these efforts will result from our understanding that gradual improvement in the national economy does not give us permission to speed ahead without caution. The economic crisis has left household, corporate and foundation balance sheets weakened. The unemployment numbers still are at 9.4 percent, indicating that we have a long way to go.

In this climate, it will be imperative to maintain Georgetown’s responsiveness to the needs of our families. We will ensure a very modest growth rate in tuition costs and stand firmly behind our commitment to sustaining and enhancing our policy of need-blind admissions and meeting the full financial need for all undergraduates: a policy that ensures the academic competitiveness of our undergraduate program.

To do so, we will continue to focus on philanthropic giving. The last two years have been very challenging for philanthropy. These challenges resulted in a decision to hold back from the public launch of our capital campaign. To put this in perspective, four and a half years ago, we began the quiet phase of a $1.5 billion campaign. As I have shared with you on other occasions, we had intended to be in the public phase by the Fall of 2010. The global financial crisis had an impact on philanthropy at all institutions. We were no exception.

Yet the combination of fiscal prudence with more positive economic signals creates the opportunity for cautious optimism. As of December 30, the University’s endowment grew to $1.1 billion and our ranking with the NACUBO moved from 67th to 61st among national universities. We are now back on track in terms of the capital campaign, with a very strong first half of this year and an expectation that we will have the public launch later this fall, when we will have exceeded the half-way mark toward our goal.

Within this context, the University has been able to more aggressively pursue priorities essential to its continued growth, competitiveness and vitality as a national and global leader in higher education.  When we met last year at this time, and then again in the fall, I indicated that our two highest priorities were strengthening our support for financial aid and developing a new faculty salary plan. I am pleased to report that we have made substantial progress on both of these priorities.

The successful launch of our 1789 Scholarship Imperative, a $500 million effort, as part of our capital campaign, has positioned us well to pursue unprecedented levels of philanthropic support for financial aid.

Second, I am very pleased that we have been able to put in a place a five-year faculty salary plan for the Main Campus that calls for 4% annual increases to the salary pool, each year for the next five years. We were able to accelerate this plan by providing the modest increases for faculty this January, and we will start a cycle of regular merit-based increases for the entire community beginning July 1.  These increases come at a time when many institutions, including the Federal Government, have decided to suspend certain compensation increases: As you may know, the Federal government has announced that Federal employees will not receive Cost of Living Adjustments, or COLA, this year.

Especially considering the challenges of the economic climate, I am deeply grateful to Wayne Davis, Provost O’Donnell and the Main Campus Planning Committee for their efforts in creating this next five-year salary plan.

The plan represents a commitment to maintaining and extending faculty excellence and competitiveness over the course of its five-year duration and far into the future. I also am very pleased that leaders of the Medical Center have formed a committee to consider the development of a multi-year plan for Med Center faculty members. I am grateful to Committee Chair, Dr. Ken Kellar, Professor of Pharmacology, for his leadership in these efforts.

I mentioned a moment ago, Georgetown University’s capital campaign, which we are committed to launching in October 2011. To date, we have achieved nearly half of the $1.5 billion goal of the campaign and as I have said, we have worked hard to strengthen the University’s commitment to undergraduate financial aid, which is represented by the 1789 Scholarship Imperative. Progress on this initiative has been strong, and we anticipate hitting our targets as the campaign continues.

At this juncture, with the public phase of the campaign approaching, we will focus our efforts on a second priority: what we will call in the campaign, Faculty Excellence. The target for focused fundraising in support of Faculty Excellence will be $350 million. Of the total funds raised, the overwhelming allocation will contribute to strengthening existing faculty lines, and for providing resources for specific and strategic growth. The Faculty Excellence “pillar” also will aim to strengthen Georgetown’s excellence in research and the sciences, supporting a more balanced and diverse portfolio of academic strengths in this very competitive landscape of higher education.

Each of these efforts represents a commitment to furthering the University’s potential, investing in the people who live and work at Georgetown, and enabling our faculty and students to impact the world in a distinctively Georgetown way. The specificity, focus and transparency of fundraising goals is especially important considering the broader economic circumstances and the notable shift in the needs of our families and faculty members.

Towards these ends, I am very grateful to our deans and executive vice presidents for their efforts in undertaking extremely thorough studies to align and detail their respective fundraising goals for the campaign. This work will enable the University to serve the needs of our schools and faculty members in an explicit and effective manner.

Conclusion

The period of uncertainty and crisis management spurred by the global financial crisis has now moved into a moment of intense, focused work to launch the University’s next phase of growth. Clarity and accountability will be of the utmost importance, yet this also can be a time of aspiration and possibility as together, we construct a thoughtful, strategic framework for the future. Within that framework, targeted support for our faculty, staff and students, in our individual and collective endeavors to pursue our potential and enrich both this community and the broader world, will remain at the forefront of the University’s ambitions.

Thank you all for being here, and now I’d be happy to answer any question on any issue of the day.

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