Who among us did not celebrate the end of 2020? Even if we enjoyed good health and had not lost loved ones and friends to COVID, we all welcomed the new year with great hope for the end of the pandemic and a return to normal life. We are still very hopeful as we begin the holy season of Lent.

While the CDU headquarters in Charles Town is generally quiet these days with only our IT director, director of operations, and local staff onsite, most of us are working from home. Our university chapel remains quiet with the red sanctuary light reminding us that our Lord Jesus is present and watching over CDU even with very few staff there to offer worship and love.

The work of CDU continues, and the staff are at home with technology and daily meetings via Zoom and Google Meet. The Board of Trustees is preparing for transition as we welcome Mr. Stephen Pryor as Board chair on March 15, 2021. The staff leadership is finishing an implementation plan for the first year of our new 3.5 year strategic plan, which focuses on growth and financial sustainability, institutional effectiveness, and program development. With new staff and procedures in admissions, we have seen 11% growth in student enrollment in the last few terms. The implementation of Populi, the new cloud-based student information system, is moving forward and will be ready to launch by the end of June.

CDU’s partnership with the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) will continue as CDU teaches international faculty to excel in distance education and online pedagogy. Faculty at universities in the Philippines will take the next training module in April. Two additional modules are planned for universities in other global regions in 2021.

With so much energy and hard work devoted to accreditors in 2020, we now await the decisions of their accrediting boards in late February and early March. The Student Life Center that is home to our co-curricular programs has added significant activities and opportunities for student interaction. One of our students’ favorite instructors, Alissa Thorell, a moral theologian, serves as faculty advisor to Student Life. She works with Mary McKay, director of Student Life, to oversee the programs and assessment.

I could not mention Student Life without thanking George Muñoz for stepping up as alumni president. He is a recent MA graduate who is planning a great event for alumni and the university. Stay tuned! We are also reaching out to alumni to help support our fundraising goals.

Finally, the new year has also reminded us that we live in the shadow of the cross. Our longtime board leader, brilliant strategic thinker, benefactor, friend, nuclear physicist, business executive, and cheerleader for this university and its mission, Dr. Joseph V. Braddock, stepped into eternity very quietly on Saturday, February 6. We keep bombarding him with intentions and favors, and we have great confidence that he continues to work overtime to ensure the success of this unique university.

May the entire CDU community encounter our Lord in life-changing ways in this Lenten journey of 2021.