As the summer comes to a close and we prepare together for the coming academic year, I wish to take this opportunity to welcome you all back to Georgetown. The start of the year is always a special time on our campus, with new students and faculty, new relationships, new scholarship and exciting conversations beginning anew after the summer months. We are fortunate to welcome 63 new full time faculty members this academic year, whose diverse areas of expertise will build upon the remarkable dedication to excellence in teaching and research that characterizes our Georgetown community.
I very much look forward to the rich and rewarding semester ahead, and wish to take this opportunity to share with you some updates from our community. As we look ahead and seek to engage with the opportunities and challenges facing higher education today, we continue to be dedicated to making investments that strengthen our community, create an environment for our students and faculty to pursue their passions and position our University for future success.
Our students remain among the very best in the country. We are proud to welcome an extraordinary first-year undergraduate class, selected from a talented and diverse pool of 19,885 applications, yielding an admit rate of 17%. Our Law Center welcomes an outstanding incoming class as well, with an average LSAT of 168 and our highest ever average undergraduate GPA of 3.75. Applications to the Medical Center remain strong: this year, we received 12,250 applications for 196 available spots, representing a significant increase in the number of applications for the same number of available spots from years past.
We continue to engage the extraordinary talents and resources of our community to lead us in this important time. Over the summer, William Rebeck, Ph.D., graciously assumed the role of Interim Graduate School Dean after the retirement of Gerald Mara, Ph.D. We are deeply grateful to Bill for his willingness to lead during this time of transition. Within the next weeks, I look forward to charging a committee of colleagues invited by Provost Groves with the task of identifying candidates for a new dean of the Graduate School.
We also announced Thomas Banchoff, Ph.D., as our first Vice President for Global Engagement to work with faculty to strengthen our existing partnerships and initiatives, while enhancing the global elements of our teaching, research and outreach activities. Tom will continue in his role as director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Professor of Government in addition to this new appointment. We look forward to the possibilities ahead as we seek to bring our mission to the frontiers and engage in deeper, more meaningful ways with today’s pressing global issues.
We continue to find new ways to live our mission, educate our students and advance our work by making strategic investments in technology. Our first MOOC, made possible through our early partnership with the edX consortium, launches this fall. We anticipate launching additional MOOCs in the spring, and they will bring the benefits of a Georgetown education – our rich tradition of excellence in scholarship and teaching – to a wider audience beyond the gates of Healy. The grant winning projects of the Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning that we announced last spring will begin this fall, and will offer our community new examples, research and tools for enhancing teaching across disciplines. This fall we open the new Marineau Media Center, a high-quality digital studio in the Hariri Building that gives us a tool to further promote the research and expertise of our Georgetown faculty through major media channels. New “apps” such as EmergenSee, which directly links your smart phone to the Department of Public Safety command center through GPS, video, and audio, and our transportation tracker, NextGUTS, reinforce our commitment to becoming a safer, better, and ever more vibrant space to live a life of learning.
Our master planning work continues to guide our future growth and development as we pursue our vision of a more integrated living and learning campus. This process includes working with experts in master planning to gather data from our community to inform our plan for our current footprint and in surrounding areas where we can expand and enrich our academic programs.
One of these experts is Forest City Washington, a leading real estate development and consulting firm that developed the area around the Washington Nationals Stadium in Southeast Washington. They are helping us to identify and explore potential opportunities for growth in other parts of the city. We recently joined Forest City in submitting a plan for the redevelopment of the Walter Reed Hospital site, and we expect the District of Columbia to award development rights later this year. We are also in discussions with city leadership about how our shared goals may align as the District develops plans for the area east of the Anacostia River.
Several new projects are expanding our capacity on the Hilltop to achieve our vision of a richer residential living and learning campus. A new home for our School of Continuing Studies at 640 Massachusetts Ave, NW will hold its first classes later this week, providing a state-of-the-art facility for more than 1,100 graduate and professional students. Located in the Chinatown/Gallery Place neighborhood, the space expands the University's "Georgetown Downtown" presence, building on the foundation set by our Law Center, and is within four blocks of all five metro rail lines and multiple bus lines. On our main campus, we have also begun work on the new Healey Family Student Center, which, through the generous philanthropy of alumni families, will offer multi-use space for students to study and collaborate outside the classroom.
We continue to engage our community in the master planning process. Many of you attended our planning sessions, which will continue this fall, and I hope you will continue to participate as we assess how we currently use our resources in the effort to guide this growth. I invite you to learn more about our efforts and share your comments and ideas through the plan’s new webpage here.
Lastly, we very much look forward to the reopening of Dahlgren Chapel on September 8 as it undergoes the last stage of restorations after a summer of extensive interior renovations. In October, we plan to have a formal blessing and dedicate the Calcagnini Contemplative Center, a beautiful new center in the Blue Ridge Mountains where the University will hold retreats throughout the year. The first ESCAPE overnights will take place there this semester.
This is an exciting time in the life of our University as we engage the opportunities and challenges facing higher education. I am deeply grateful to each of you for your contributions and extraordinary dedication to our students; I am honored to be a part of such a remarkable and talented community. I hope you will join together with us tomorrow, August 27, 2013, at noon on Healy Lawn for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a moment of prayerful reflection before the year begins, and I look forward to the year ahead.
You have my very best wishes.
John J. DeGioia