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Remarks by President John J. DeGioia

2011 Georgetown University Medical Center Convocation

New Research Building
Georgetown University
March 15, 2011

Thank you very much for that introduction, Howard (Federoff), and Fr. Jordan for your invocation. Good afternoon everyone. I am grateful for the opportunity to be here with you, and to be part of a celebration that has very quickly become an important tradition for our Medical Center community. I would like to thank Dr. Federoff for his leadership in establishing this ceremony, and each of our Medical Center leaders – Dr. Ray Mitchell, Dr. Robert Clarke, Dr. Lou Weiner and Dr. Julie DeLoia – for their commitment to cultivating the standard of excellence and deep sense of community that we celebrate today. I also would like to recognize our award winners, and especially this year’s recipient of the Cura Personalis medal, Dr. Arno Mutulsky. We are honored to have you with us.

We come together today to recognize “unique and outstanding achievements in research, education and service” – accomplishments that continually position our Medical Center at the forefront of medical education and service to the community. Our context, and the resources through which we pursue this excellence, are different from many of our peers. Our work is animated by our unique mission and enlivened by our identity as a Catholic and Jesuit institution.

When we consider “unique and outstanding achievements,” we do so in a way that is informed by central aspects of the Jesuit tradition of education: a tradition that has provided members of the Georgetown community with a framework to seek meaning and to do their very best work since the University’s founding 222 years ago 

I would like to briefly discuss three aspects of this tradition, which I believe are especially relevant to the Medical Center today.

The first is captured in the motto of the Jesuits: Ad majorem de gloriam. That second word, majorem, provides us with the origin of the idea of the “magis” – the “more”. In our tradition, we are always asked to look for the “more.” What more can we do? What more can we be? What more should we expect of ourselves and of one another?

This is an idea that has been at the center of Georgetown’s approach to medical education from the start, when our School of Medicine was created in 1851. Just six years later, during the commencement exercises of 1857, Dr. Noble Young – one of the School of Medicine’s four founders – told the new graduates:

You are not to rest content with what you have. You are to acquire more and more, to become laborers in the field of progress - a progress to continue to the end of time. At every step some new and wondrous truth to be investigated and learned."1 Dr. Young’s charge reflects this idea of magis, of seeking the new and the possible at every turn… and is a concept that each of you embodies today through your deep commitment to excellence.

Second, and closely connected to the first, is a principle captured by another guiding phrase: “inque hominum salute” – for the salvation of humanity. These words are inscribed on the wall of Gaston Hall, just opposite from where we see Ad majorem de gloriam, and represent an idea that has been at the center of this community from the beginning. The Jesuit tradition of caring for the sick – and the underlying commitment to serving others – are both expressed in these words. 

The work that you do here as researchers, as healers, as teachers and mentors, enlivens this principle, and helps us to see clearly what it means to be “women and men for others” in the world today.

Third is an idea reflected in the name of this Convocation’s highest honor: cura personalis, translated from Latin as “Care for the Person.” This is perhaps the most important element of the Jesuit tradition that infuses Georgetown’s Medical Center community, reflecting the holistic approach we aspire to bring to every aspect of our teaching and learning -- across all of our campuses. It is an approach that encourages us to recognize and nurture the unique talents, circumstances, and contributions of each of our members…one that asserts the depth of caring reflected in Ignatius of Loyola’s intention to “help souls.”  

Our community is made stronger by the commitment that each of you makes to this tradition, expressed through the creativity and the care that each of you brings to your studies…to your research and your labs… to your courses and your students…and to your relationships with fellow classmates and colleagues. I am deeply grateful for your contribution to Georgetown, and for your desire to embrace our mission…to always seek more…and to encourage the best in others.

We are also here today to recognize several individuals who embody the spirit of cura personalis. I would like to invite Dr. Federoff, our Executive Vice President for Health Sciences and Executive Dean of the School of Medicine, to introduce these members of our community and to begin the presentation of awards.

1.  Young, Noble. "Valedictory Address to the Graduating Class of the Medical Department," March 12, 1857, pp. 6-7.


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