Older Adults Keep Watchful Eye on Residence Halls

Dauna Holt-Hazel
Public safety assistant Dauna Holt-Hazel outside Conaty Hall.

Dauna Holt-Hazel often addresses Conaty Hall residents as “Sweetie.” They sometimes call her “Ma.” Holt-Hazel doesn’t provide snacks, check homework or give rides to soccer games, but as a public safety assistant stationed at the front desk of Conaty, she provides a motherly presence for the freshmen who live there.

With 30 years of experience in the telecommunications field and a current full-time position as project coordinator for an international communications company, Holt-Hazel works only part time for CUA. At Conaty, she is responsible for checking the ID of every student who walks through the door. She is part of a team that includes 22 other public safety assistants stationed in the Flather, Opus, Spellman and Conaty residence halls and the Raymond A. DuFour Center each day from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Known as PSAs, these modern-day gatekeepers include several grandmothers, an ordained minister and numerous retirees. They possess a level of maturity and life experience that is an asset when dealing with students, says Thomasine Johnson, CUA’s director of public safety.

A PSA who senses that a freshman is lonely or that an upperclassman is troubled will make a discreet phone call to the public safety director. Johnson then refers the matter to the Division of Student Life or to Rev. Robert Schlageter, O.F.M. Conv., campus chaplain and director of campus ministry.

Dauna Holt-Hazel, James Carroll and Jacquelyn Walsh.
Holt-Hazel checks the IDs of undergraduates James Carroll and Jacquelyn Walsh.

“I'm thrilled with the program,” says Father Schlageter. “A public safety assistant is the face that welcomes our students into the residence hall. That presence is very powerful. I think that’s the kind of presence we want at the door of our homes on campus.”

Started in 2004, the PSA program is one of several initiatives that have helped to reduce crime on campus, according to Johnson. Between 2006 and 2008, burglaries dropped by 22 percent, thefts by 34 percent and incidents of vandalism by 21 percent.

The PSAs work in shifts that vary from four to eight hours. The tools they employ are few — a walkie-talkie, a telephone and a binder with the names and photos of all the students who live in the residence hall. Using those tools and their powers of observation, the PSAs provide CUA with some immeasurable benefits, says Johnson.

“They are an extra set of eyes and ears to support safety and security on campus,” Johnson adds. “When the PSAs are working, they’re part of that Department of Public Safety shift. If need be, they can radio the public safety dispatcher and an officer will respond.”

CUA students report that they become friends with the PSAs. And the PSAs also seem to enjoy serving and getting to know the students. Jessie Lanier, who started as a public safety assistant in August 2007, says that when she worked in Spellman, she used to fold students’ clean clothes because the laundry room was right by the front door.

“They didn’t know I was the one who had folded their clothes,” she says with a laugh. “I guess they figured that a little fairy had done it.”

Now posted to Flather, Lanier no longer folds laundry, but as a Baptist minister, she often reads her Bible when things are quiet in the residence hall lobby. “Sometimes the students talk to me if they have a problem. Later, when they’re feeling better, they say thank you.” — C.L.

Graduates Called to Service by NYC Police Chief

NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly
NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly addresses the new graduates at the main commencement ceremony.

Approximately 1,375 students received bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees at the university’s 120th annual commencement, held May 16. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly delivered the main address and received an honorary doctorate.

Looking out at the thousands of people gathered at the east entrance of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Kelly said, “Americans are, by nature, generous and optimistic, and we need to reclaim our heritage. You need to reclaim it.

“The economic crisis has led to a national re-examination of what constitutes meaning in our lives and in our work,” he said. “For too long, the allure of money alone led many of our brightest down the narrow path of material enrichment. The result, for many, is despair over the loss of even this shallow sense of purpose.

“Even now,” Kelly maintained, “America has plenty of money and plenty of moneymakers. What it needs are idealists. I urge the Class of 2009 to be America’s new idealists.”

Kelly, one of the most experienced and prominent law enforcement officials in the country, encouraged graduates to be engaged in the world. “We need to practice charity at home, and not be afraid to remain engaged abroad. … If your country asks you to serve, say yes. If it doesn’t ask, volunteer.”

Many CUA graduates are already answering that call. Among them is Amanda J. Cooper, a history major from Hampton Bays, N.Y., who was presented with the President’s Award during commencement. The award is the university’s highest honor given to a graduating senior, in recognition of service, leadership and outstanding scholarship. Following graduation, Cooper will dedicate two years of her life to Teach for America, which has assigned her to serve as a special- education teacher in Denver.

Also receiving an honorary degree at the commencement was Karol Musiol, rector of the Jagiellonian University in Cracow, Poland. One of Europe’s oldest universities, Jagiellonian has had a longstanding academic partnership with CUA’s Columbus School of Law.

Following the bestowal of that degree, the world-renowned tenor and inspirational speaker Ronan Tynan was awarded the James Cardinal Gibbons Medal, the Alumni Association’s highest honor.

On May 22, CUA’s Columbus School of Law conferred 245 degrees at its commencement, which featured political columnist and commentator Mark Shields as speaker. Shields, who also received an honorary degree, writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column and provides weekly political analysis on ABC and PBS.

Symposium and Special Web Site Celebrate ‘Year for Priests’

Year for Priests Web site
CUA has developed a Web site that features CUA alumni priests reflecting on their ministry.

An Oct. 6–7 symposium on the priesthood is among the ways Catholic University is marking the “Year for Priests.”

Pope Benedict XVI has given that title to the period beginning June 19, 2009, and ending June 19, 2010. Designated as a time of renewal for priests, the year coincides with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, a 19th-century French priest whom the Pope has named patron saint of all priests.

Co-sponsored by CUA’s School of Theology and Religious Studies and the university’s Theological College, the two-day symposium will feature talks by seminary leaders, theologians and parish priests; question-and-answer sessions; and small-group discussions.

Since its establishment in 1887, CUA has contributed to the formation and education of priests. In June, the university celebrated the beginning of the Year for Priests by unveiling a special Web site — — that showcases priests who are CUA alumni. During each month of the special year, the Web site will feature a different priest reflecting on his ministry in an audiovisual presentation.

Students Send Books to Tanzania

An assembly line of students passing cartons of books outside Caldwell Hall.

Passing cartons of books from hand to hand, an assembly line of students outside Caldwell Hall spent about two hours in the rain on May 4, loading more than 7,000 books and 20 computers into a shipping container headed to the Brothers of Charity in Kigoma, Tanzania.

CUA students had spent weeks collecting the materials, which the 200-year-old Belgium-based religious order will use to establish a university-level academic library in Kigoma.

Students became aware of the brothers’ need for a library through a Campus Ministry mission trip to Kigoma last summer. That mission trip was prompted by CUA’s 2007 sponsorship of the $1 million Opus Prize, which the university awarded to Brother of Charity Stan Goetschalckx to honor and support the humanitarian work he leads in Tanzania.

Helping to load the materials on May 4 was Brother of Charity Venance Kalolo, a Kigoma native and rising senior at CUA who is majoring in nursing. Brother Kalolo is studying at Catholic University under the auspices of a partnership between his order and the university.

This November will mark the 10-year anniversary of that partnership, which enables brothers from Asia and Africa to study for associate’s degrees in Belgium, with instruction provided in part by CUA faculty members, or to earn bachelor’s degrees at CUA in nursing or education. Since 1999, six brothers have earned their college diplomas at CUA.

CUA Extends Its Overseas Reach

Dean Nguyen, Provost Brennan and Cardinal Pham Minh Mân
Dean Nguyen and Provost Brennan confer with Cardinal Pham Minh Mân in his offices in Ho Chi Minh City.

Broadening Catholic University’s reach around the world, CUA’s president, Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., Provost James Brennan and Dean of Engineering Charles Nguyen attended Chung Yuan Christian University’s commencement in Jhongli, Taiwan, on June 13. There Father O’Connell delivered the graduation address and received an honorary doctorate.

The next day, Father O’Connell concelebrated Mass with Archbishop of Taiwan John Hung Shan-chuan, who is a CUA alumnus, and enjoyed dinner with about 20 alums who live in Asia.

Father O’Connell signed memoranda of understanding with Chung Yuan Christian University and with St. John’s University in Taipei, Taiwan, paving the way for future academic collaboration with these two institutions.

On June 16, Provost Brennan and Dean Nguyen traveled on to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for a dinner hosted by Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân and attended by clergymen who are university alums, including Bishop Pierre Nguyen Van Kham. In addition, the two CUA leaders met with administrators of other universities and research centers in Ho Chi Minh City, Danang and Hanoi, and signed a memorandum of understanding between CUA and the University of Danang.

A little more than a week later, Murry Sidlin, dean of the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, traveled to the Czech Republic to lead Catholic University’s June 30 student performance of “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín.” This marked the second time CUA has performed Sidlin’s award-winning concert/drama in the former Nazi concentration camp where the work is set. Approximately 90 students, faculty and alumni participated.

The performance was a featured event of the international Conference on Holocaust-Era Assets, which took place in Prague. The conference addressed ongoing issues related to injustices caused by the Holocaust.

Freshmen Win Competition for Basilica Dome Design

The freshmen's mosaic design
Illustration courtesy of Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Two CUA architecture and planning freshmen were named the winners of a competition to conceptualize a design for a mosaic on the inside of the largest dome of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. On March 23, Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica, awarded the first prize of $1,000 to Philip Goolkasian of Fresno, Calif., and Corey August of Kensington, Md.

The freshmen’s design (shown at left) bested entries by three other teams of finalists, all composed of graduate students in the School of Architecture and Planning.

The competition challenged CUA students to explore complex design issues related to viewers’ perception of a dome mosaic.

Monsignor Rossi noted that CUA’s students who participated in the contest provided the Basilica administration many “wonderful ideas” for decorating the dome.

CUA Sponsors 2 High-Profile Events on Church and State

Father David O’Connell, three former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican and a former undersecretary of state.
Father David O’Connell, university president, welcomes three former U.S. ambassadors to the Vatican and a former undersecretary of state to the symposium Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience.

Scholars, theologians, church officials and government leaders came together on May 28 for two Catholic University-sponsored forums on faith and government.

The 25th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between the United States and the Vatican was marked on campus with the daylong symposium Faith and Freedom: Church and State in the American Experience. A dozen distinguished speakers addressed a gathering of more than 200 that included six university presidents, three ambassadors and two Catholic cardinals. Co-sponsored by CUA, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the symposium examined the development of U.S.-Vatican relations and the philosophical consequences of an official relationship between church and state.

Later that day, two Catholic legal scholars publicly discussed their differing views of the Obama administration’s record on abortion and stem cell research, and whether the pro-life movement can find common ground with the administration on these issues.

Held at the National Press Club and sponsored by the CUA Columbus School of Law’s Center for Law, Philosophy and Culture, this discussion between constitutional law professors Robert George of Princeton University and Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine University drew an audience of more than 250 and was broadcast live by C-SPAN.

Both events attracted widespread Catholic and secular press coverage.

Cardinals Dinner Raises $1.4 Million

President O'Connell with the Cardinals at the Cardinals Dinner
Eight U.S. cardinals and other distinguished Church leaders joined more than 700 guests in Houston on April 24 to raise money for CUA scholarships. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (top row, middle) was the host.


CUA trustee and alumnus Timothy M. Dolan was installed as archbishop of New York on April 15. In 2002, Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Milwaukee, and on Feb. 23 of this year, Pope Benedict XVI appointed him New York’s archbishop. At CUA, Archbishop Dolan earned a 1981 M.A. and a 1985 Ph.D., both in church history.

On June 9, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron was elected chairman of Catholic University’s Board of Trustees. The Detroit archbishop earned two graduate philosophy degrees from CUA (M.A. 1983 and Ph.D. 1987) and has been a member of CUA’s board since 2003. He replaces Bridgeport, Conn., Bishop William E. Lori, who served as board chairman for eight years.

In March, CUA’s Board of Trustees voted to rename Metropolitan College, founded in 1979 as a college for adult learners. The new name, the Metropolitan School of Professional Studies, reflects the many professional degrees the school now offers. These include master’s degrees in seven areas of management, as well as bachelor’s degrees in management, information technology and interdisciplinary studies. The school also offers professional certificate programs.

The Catholic Press Association named the cover story of the Summer 2008 CUA Magazine the best feature article to appear in a 2008 professional or special-interest Catholic magazine. The winning article was “A Visit for the Ages: The CUA Community Welcomes the Successor to St. Peter” by Maggie Master.

In Memoriam

Rev. Theodore Heck, O.S.B., passed away at 108 years of age on April 29 at Saint Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana. Reported to have been the oldest living Benedictine monk in the world, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in education at Catholic University in 1933 and 1935, respectively. Thereafter, he served as seminary instructor, school administrator, parish priest and monastery prior.

Monsignor William A. Kerr, S.T.L. 1966, the university’s vice president for university relations from 1984 to 1992, died on May 13. He assisted CUA’s 12th president, Rev. William Byron, S.J., with fundraising and university outreach. He later served as president of La Roche College and as executive director of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

Ed McMahon, B.A. 1949, the longtime sidekick of Johnny Carson on “The Tonight Show,” passed away on June 23. A World War II veteran who studied drama at CUA under the GI Bill, he was a faithful CUA alumnus, leading in the raising of funds to build Hartke Theatre (completed in 1970) and serving as president of the Alumni Association from 1967 to 1971. In 1985, he established the Ed McMahon Endowed Scholarship to assist CUA undergraduates preparing for broadcasting careers.

CUA Provost Emeritus C. Joseph Nuesse, Ph.D. 1944, author of the 1990 book The Catholic University of America: A Centennial History, died on May 5 at the age of 95. His comprehensive history of the university “is a ‘must read’ for anyone who wishes to understand Catholic University and its development,” said Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president, in a written eulogy. During his nearly 40 years at CUA, Nuesse served as a professor of sociology, department chair, dean, editor, executive vice president and provost.