Remarks by President John J. DeGioia
2012 Spring Faculty Town Hall
FEBRUARY 3, 2012
Listen to the audio recording here.
Good afternoon and welcome here today. I am always grateful for the opportunity to be with you, to update you on work across the University, and to engage with you in a dialogue on the issues of the day.
I’m going to speak for about 25 minutes, and then we will have as much time as we need to address any questions that might be on your mind.
Every semester, we recognize the responsibility that we share in ensuring that we provide the very best possible experience for our students and for one another. You only get one spring of your senior year—for our seniors this is it. Later today, in just a few hours, right here, I will welcome back to campus the parents of our seniors for Senior Parents Weekend. It’s a reminder of the kind of responsibility we all share as we work our way through each semester.
But in addition to our core responsibility, we have also been engaged in some work that has been taking place across the University in the months since our time together in September.
This work that has been focused on helping us to realize Georgetown’s promise and positioning us to be responsive to some of the challenges that will define these years in front of us. In this context, in October, we launched the public phase of our capital campaign, “For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown.” I will share a few thought later in these remarks about the Campaign.
To start, I would like to remember a few people.
Knowing of the depth of connection we all share as members of this academic community, it is extremely difficult to lose members. I wish to take a moment to remember a few colleagues we have lost since our last meeting.
Near the end of last term, we lost two men, one a long standing member of our Classics Department and member of our Jesuit Community, Father Ed Bodnar S.J., and the other, a member of the Department of Philosophy for thirty-five years, much beloved, Alfonso Gomez-Lobo. Both meant so much to me.
I first met Father Bodnar as an undergraduate. He had already begun his forty-five year commitment to this community a full decade earlier. If you ever knew him, you know he barely registered a decibel when he spoke. But he was, in his own quiet way, quite a member of our community. He was the world’s foremost authority in Cyriacus of Ancona, a 15th century itinerant Italian humanist.
What is so extraordinary is that Ed wrote his first book on Cyriacus in 1960 and his last, as part of the distinguished I Tatti Reanissance Library collection of Harvard University in 2003.
I had the privilege of studying with Alfonso as a graduate student. I lost track of how many courses I had with him—I know I studied Contemporary Ethical Theory and Aristotle’s Ethics, Metaphysics, Biology. My favorite was a seminar on Plato’s Sophist. Anyone who knew Alfonso knows how hard it is to imagine this campus without him.
Earlier in the Fall, we lost Chris Joyner, a scholar of international law, whose service included work to create the Institute for Law, Science and Global Security, which grew to include an M.A. in International Law and Global Security. Tony Arend put together a very fitting tribute to Chris, for which I know we were all very grateful.
Two leaders who worked everyday to strengthen Georgetown’s capacity to fulfill our mission also passed away this fall.
The first, LaMarr Billups, served as Assistant Vice President for Business Planning Policy. He worked at the intersection of the University’s business practices and our mission. He made deep contributions to our community in many ways – whether by chairing the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Let Freedom Ring!” Celebration, or through his leadership of the Licensing Oversight Committee and the Advisory Committee on Business Practices.
We also lost Suzanne Tarlov after a brave battle with cancer just this past month. She was serving as Associate Director of the Center for Social Justice, where she worked every day to support the social justice work that our students do throughout the community.
We are grateful for their service, and their families remain in our thoughts and prayers.
Deepening the commitment to our work has been a guiding factor in our search for a new Provost. I want to take another moment to express my appreciation to Jim O’Donnell for his ten years of service. We’ll have other opportunities later this spring to celebrate Jim. I also would like to thank Wayne Davis for leading the search committee for Jim’s successor. The process is proceeding in a manner consistent with the goal of completing the search within the typical cycle for an academic search, with an expectation that we will have a new Provost in place by mid-summer.
I would like to cover a few key issues. The first, access and affordability.
I. Access and Affordability
In his State of the Union address, and again last week in Ann Arbor, President Obama spoke about the role of colleges and universities in working to make higher education more affordable for students and their families.
I will discuss the President’s plan in more detail later, but I wish to share with you the steps we have already taken to help ensure that all qualified students are able to come to Georgetown.
Just a few years ago, Georgetown was the third most expensive undergraduate education in the country. Over these last few years, after working hard to control costs, the University has moved now to twenty-seventh. Over the next five years, the Financial Plan that guides the Main Campus is designed to keep total cost growth low. Right now, we’re projecting growth of about three percent a year. We are hopeful that maintaining this commitment will move us even further down that list.
Recognizing that our work to contain costs must be accompanied by other kinds of efforts, we are deepening our commitment to increasing scholarships.
This commitment will ensure that we can maintain our need-blind, full-need admissions policy: a policy that significantly strengthens the competitiveness of our undergraduate program.
Today, more than 40% of our student body—2,800 undergraduates each year—receives need-based scholarships from Georgetown. Through our “1789 Scholarship Imperative,” with its goal of supporting 1,789 undergraduate scholarships of $25,000 each through philanthropy, we are strengthening our ability to bring the very best students to Georgetown.
Prior to the launch of our 1789 Scholarship Imperative, a key pillar of our capital campaign, just 643 scholarships equivalent to $25,000 each were funded through philanthropy.
This past year, we took that number up to 867. We are only halfway through this fiscal year, FY’12, and we already have funded 632 scholarships. We hope to fund close to 1,000 scholarships by the end of the year.
As you know, current first-year undergraduate students are part of Georgetown’s most selective class in history, when we admitted just 18 percent of just over 19,000 applicants. This year, we will become even more selective, with preliminary counts showing that 20,050 students applied for 1,580 spots in the class of 2016. That is a 4 percent increase over last year. Charlie, congratulations.
We are proud that our most recent Early Action Pool was our most diverse ever, with over 35 percent representing African-American, Asian-American, Latino-American and Native American backgrounds.
Our Law Center, along with law schools throughout the nation, has seen fewer applications; yet Georgetown continues to receive more applications than any other law school in America. One out of every eight students applying for law school, applies to Georgetown. And the quality of the classes that are admitted are increasingly stronger, each year. And applications to the Medical Center remain strong. We received over 11,700 applications for 196 spots. This is an increase from last year for the same number of spots, and at that time, we were among the top three or four most selective medical schools in the country.
Part of why we have been able to remain committed to strengthening scholarship, reducing costs, and increasing access during the current economic crisis is, in part, due to the conservative and decisive movements made in response to the financial crisis back in 2008, 2009, and 2010.
These efforts have continued to keep us in a healthy and stable position. At this time, halfway through fiscal year 2012, our endowment is valued just over $1.1 billion, which is notable considering the continued volatility of the national and world economies. This stability will allow us to ensure that we are positioned to bring the very best students and the very best faculty to Georgetown.
Let me say a word regarding our financial commitment to our faculty.
II. Financial Commitment to our Faculty
Our stable financial foundation also has played a role in our ability to implement the faculty compensation plan for our Main Campus, which we have discussed during our last several Town Hall meetings.
When we met a year ago, we discussed the plan, which included annual increases to the salary pool, the first of which occurred over the summer. We are currently in the second year of this five-year plan, and we continue to monitor its progress.
Under the leadership of Wayne Davis, we are working to address some issues with the plan. It was created based on a long-run assumption of modest inflation, and recent volatility in the consumer price index measurement has prompted our efforts to explore whether using a multi-year inflation average could be a better guide for planning for both the University budget and the faculty compensation plan.
As you may know, our Medical Center has recently moved closer to approving a Faculty Compensation Plan, which after years of work has entered its final stages.
I am grateful to Charles DeSantis and the Office of Faculty and Staff Benefits for their work to help ensure that we continue to offer competitive benefit packages to help recruit faculty.
Today, the University matches up to 35 percent of total faculty salary toward health care and other benefits, and by this summer, it will be 36 percent. Salaries constitute nearly half of our $1 billion operating budget, and the University’s contribution to benefits constitutes $124 million annually.
In terms of each of our four health care plans, about 13.5% of our faculty and staff enroll in United Healthcare, 35.5% enroll in Kaiser, 49.5% enroll in Blue Cross Blue Shield, and a very small percentage, 1.5%, enroll in the Aetna plan. We continue to work to contain employee contribution costs across all four plans while still providing the best possible care for every member of our community.
Our commitment will remain constant as we recruit and add new members to our Georgetown faculty. We are currently in the process of searching for 31 new, Main Campus faculty. We anticipate hiring them within the next academic year, and have identified sixteen positions within the College, six in the McDonough School of Business and the remainder in the School of Foreign Service, the Public Policy Institute and our Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) program.
Let me update you on our efforts regarding our commitment to enhance our physical space.
I would like to update you on our efforts and commitment to enhance the physical space on our Main Campus.
The most visible project right now is our new Science Center. I had the pleasure of announcing that the building will be named Regents Hall in recognition of the commitment and generosity of our Board of Regents over many years.
The 154,000-square-foot building will not only increase the University’s capacity for research, but also, provide new labs and new offices for our science faculty. It will become the home of our Chemistry, Physics, and Biology programs, and it remains on schedule to open this summer.
We are also moving forward on schedule with the restoration of Dahlgren Chapel, which is focused on strengthening the foundation of this building. The restoration, which is made possible through the generosity of an alumni family, Francis (C ’75, L ’78) and Kathleen Rooney (F ’77), and will also include refurbishing the stained glass windows, exterior brick work, and an interior renovation.
We remain committed to the construction of a new Athletic Training Facility, which will be the next major capital project on campus. The training facility is working its way through the regulatory process, and will be financed through philanthropy.
We’re also raising funds to support the renovation the old New South Cafeteria, which will become a new Student Center in New South which will give students more space to gather… to study and collaborate… and a variety of projects and extracurricular activities.
I think it’s important to recognize that while we are looking forward to the ways in which these new projects and new buildings will enhance the quality of life for our community, our work with the City on our Campus Plan has shown us that further growth on our main campus is limited.
As part of the plan, we agreed to relocate 1,000 School of Continuing Studies students off-campus, and are in the final process of selecting a new, downtown location for SCS, which we are calling “Georgetown Downtown.” It will be an opportunity for us to move some of our SCS programs in a way that will have multiple benefits. We can both address the concerns of our neighbors over the traffic that comes into the campus late in the afternoon and the evenings, and we’ll also be able to give SCS the opportunity to grow in new ways, especially as we are closer to a metro site, which would not have been possible on our Main Campus footprint.
This process, and the realization of limited growth in this neighborhood, has led to new thinking about our growth, which will include both an exploration of additional sites for future development as well as a recognition of the role that technology will play in the future.
We have already had our first step with some digital successes. For example, our online graduate nursing program, Nursing @ Georgetown, has already admitted 330 students. The online program is currently operating in 43 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This has expanded the same level of excellence that you share in your classrooms every day, and this program’s success and our efforts with the School of Continuing Studies have contributed to conversations with our Deans about innovative ways for growth across our individual schools.
I am also pleased to report that, on Monday, Lisa Davis will join the University as Vice President for Information Services and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Lisa comes to Georgetown from the U.S. Marshals Service, where she served as Assistant Director and CIO. She will work effectively across all departments and campuses with faculty, administrators, staff and students to create a vision and a strategy for IT while she manages and leads the delivery of service.
Let me say a word about the campaign.
IV. For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown
These areas, which I have discussed – increasing access and affordability, supporting faculty, strengthening infrastructure, and making investments in the future – are deeply reflected in the priorities of our campaign.
As I mentioned, we publicly launched the campaign, called “For Generations to Come: The Campaign for Georgetown,” in October. We have set a goal of raising $1.5 billion.
The campaign launched with a successful weekend with lots of activities. At the six-month mark, the University has raised $84.5 million, and this has been the most successful beginning of a fiscal year in Georgetown’s history.
The largest share of this campaign’s goal – two-thirds - or $1 billion, comprises the first two pillars of the campaign, both reflecting our investments in our people: ensuring that the very best students can attend Georgetown and supporting all of you in your work here at Georgetown. $500 million for student financial aid, and $500 million for faculty and academic programming.
In terms of supporting scholarships, we have a goal of deepening direct donor support for the University’s need-blind, meet-full need admissions policy. The $500 million goal also includes $100 million for graduate fellowships and scholarships, which is intended to help us increase competitiveness in our graduate programs and, in particular, our Ph.D. programs.
The campaign also will strengthen our commitment to the work of our faculty by establishing endowed faculty excellence funds to support research, by increasing the number of existing faculty lines, and by creating a select number of new, fully-endowed chairs. These goals both recognize the depth of your contribution and act as a shared commitment to providing more resources for the continued excellence of our faculty community.
I am proud to report that of all of our goals, we have made the most progress on faculty excellence. We have raised $383 million toward our goal of $500 million. By the end of the campaign, we hope to fund 75 endowed chairs, and we have already funded 28.
On increasing scholarship support, we have raised more than $184 million, on our way to $500 million. Overall, we have raised about $860 million toward our goal of $1.5 billion.
The remaining one-third, or $500 million in the campaign – will be for two categories. The first is infrastructure support, which I’ve already described with the new science center, the New South Science Space, the Athletic Training Facility. The final pillar tries to capture ‘transformational opportunities’ where we might have the ability to do something special in this moment by engaging the dreams and the visions that are shared in our schools and on our campuses with potential donors who have the ability to enable those dreams to come true.
They range from work that a number of colleagues are doing on the Main Campus in the Environmental Sciences, to work going on in the Medical Center on Neuroscience, to work that might take our very successful graduate Public Policy Program and help it to evolve to become a full school.
I’d like to share with you five issues that are the focus of some particular attention at the start of this new semester.
V. Ongoing Issues and Initiatives
First, we will work to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of President Obama’s plan to contain higher education tuition costs.
While the President’s proposal is not tied to the largest federal student aid programs, the ones that we count on the most – Pell Grants and Direct Federal Student Loans – it does look like it could affect campus-based aid programs that are important to our community: Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Perkins Loans, and Federal Work Study. These are instrumental for our ability to ensure access and affordability. These may be more in play. We need to see how all of this unfolds.
There also may be opportunities for us. President Obama has indicated that he is going to create a fund that will be a competitive fund for colleges and universities that have innovative ideas about decreasing costs and increasing productivity.
We will be watching the movement of the proposal in Congress very closely under the leadership of our colleague, Scott Fleming, who is our Associate Vice President for Federal Relations.
We also will continue to evaluate ways in which we can achieve the excellence our community demands while ensuring that students from all backgrounds can come to Georgetown.
Second, we continue to monitor the new regulations that are unfolding within the Department of Health and Human Services as they implement the Affordable Care Act, particularly, those that concern insurance coverage of contraceptive and reproductive services.
As I described earlier, Georgetown offers four insurance plans to faculty and staff. As those of you have been here for some time, you know how hard we have all worked to try to meet the needs of our community. We identified three “off-the-shelf” plans that we offer as options for health care, and one plan, United Healthcare, which we have designed. We also designed our student health plan.
The three “off-the-shelf” plans do provide for contraceptive coverage; those that we design do not. The new regulations have not yet been released, but HHS has disclosed, just two weeks ago, that it will be the expectation that all plans will need to provide for such services.
When HHS releases these new regulations, we will review them carefully and determine how best to respond for an institution with our mission and our identity.
Third, we have been diligent and attentive in responding to the issues raised by the events last fall at Penn State, understanding the deep importance of reflecting on and strengthening our own “culture of care” here at Georgetown.
In November, we established a broad working group with representatives from across the University to initiate a coordinated effort relating to the support and care of all members within our community, but more specifically focused on the protection of minors. You might be surprised how many of our departments and our colleagues are in regular contact with minors.
As you might remember, we coordinated a communication to all students, faculty, and staff on November 16th to draw attention to the ethical principles that guide our community and to the responsibility each of us has to report unlawful behavior.
We also held meetings in many departments and areas that work directly with children – through our camps, through our mentoring, and through our tutoring programs – and to provide them an opportunity to discuss these issues and to raise any immediate concerns.
In the coming months, we will continue to strengthen our focus on these areas by pursuing four key tasks. We will:
·Develop a formal policy on the protection of minors;
·Complete a comprehensive assessment of University activities involving minors;
·Create new requirements for on-campus programs involving minors; and
·Conduct a legal review of third party contracts, waivers and release forms.
Our goal is to remain vigilant in addressing these issues and to ensure that our Georgetown community continues to uphold the moral and ethical principles that have guided us throughout our history.
Fourth, we will continue to engage in our Middle States reaccreditation process. The key document that has been a few years in drafting—our Self-Study report is due today and we will be sending it to the chair of our accreditation team, to Swarthmore President, Rebecca Chopp, who is leading the team that will visit us in early April. This report is the result of dedicated and diligent work by many members of our community, and I especially wish to thank Provost Jim O’Donnell; Associate Provost, Marjory Blumenthal; and CNDLS Executive Director and Associate Provost, Randy Bass, for their leadership throughout the process.
President Chopp will be returning to Georgetown with a team of colleagues for their formal visit in early April to assess our evaluation of four key areas consistent with what we worked on in self-study: planning, institutional assessment, general education, and assessment of student learning.
An awful lot of work went into this, and we are pretty confident that our reviewers will appreciate the deep commitment of the members of our community to our work.
And finally, our Campus Plan process. We anticipate taking our next step on Thursday, February 9th, when we attend a public meeting of the Zoning Commission. At that time, the Commissioners will read a preliminary decision about our Plan. We then will wait for a final, written decision to be presented to us in the months to come.
I think, as you know, we have been deeply engaged and attentive to the issues that have emerged throughout this process. It has been more than three years of work that has occupied many members of our community.
We have already taken significant steps to respond to the concerns of our neighbors and the City that have emerged throughout the Campus Plan process.
In addition to housing 250 more undergraduate students on campus, our plan includes a freeze on undergraduate and Medical School enrollment, and an alternative solution to our initial “loop road” proposal through campus.
We also have agreed to limit graduate school growth on the Main Campus to 1,000 students over the course of the next decade, while developing a plan to relocate 1,000 School of Continuing Studies students to an off-campus location, as I discussed earlier. Over the last five years, our main-campus traditional graduate programs have grown by 656 students. So 1,000 is not a big number to be working with. We know we have some time, but we also know that we have some challenges ahead of us as we imagine how we will sustain the kind of growth that we take for granted in an academic community. This will be some work for us over the next few years. We are mindful of this as we wrestle with how we will handle the proposed cap and are exploring new opportunities for growth.
As we move through the spring semester, these are the topics that we will continue to prioritize as we ensure that we are attentive to the issues of the day.
Thank you. I am now happy to take any questions you might have.