Catholic University of America
MottoDeus Lux Mea Est (Latin)
Motto in English
"God Is My Light"
TypePrivate research university
EstablishedApril 10, 1887; 137 years ago (1887-04-10)
Religious affiliation
Catholic Church
Academic affiliations
Endowment$276.1 million (2020)[1]
ChancellorWilton Daniel Cardinal Gregory
PresidentPeter Kilpatrick
ProvostAaron Dominguez
Academic staff
455 full-time and 328 part-time (Spring 2022)[2]
Students5,366 (Spring 2022)[2]
United States

38°56′01″N 76°59′55″W / 38.93361°N 76.99861°W / 38.93361; -76.99861
CampusLarge City, 176 acres (71 ha)[3]
NewspaperThe Tower
ColorsGold & White (academic)[4][5]
Red & Black (athletics)[6]
Sporting affiliations

The Catholic University of America (CUA) is a private Catholic research university in Washington, D.C. It is a pontifical university of the Catholic Church in the United States and the only institution of higher education founded by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.[7] Established in 1887 as a graduate and research center following approval by Pope Leo XIII,[8] the university began offering undergraduate education in 1904. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[9]

Its campus is adjacent to the Brookland neighborhood, known as "Little Rome", which contains 60 Catholic institutions, including Trinity Washington University, the Dominican House of Studies, Archbishop Carroll High School, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

CUA's programs emphasize the liberal arts, professional education, and personal development. The school stays closely connected with the Catholic Church and Catholic organizations. The residential U.S. cardinals put on the American Cardinals Dinner each year to raise scholarship funds. The university also has a long history of working with the Knights of Columbus; its law school and basilica have dedications to the involvement and support of the Knights.



Pope Leo XIII granted the University Charter in April 1886

At the Second Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1866, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops first discussed the need for a national Catholic university. At the Third Plenary Council on January 26, 1885, bishops chose the name The Catholic University of America for the institution.[10]

In 1882, Bishop John Lancaster Spalding went to Rome to obtain Pope Leo XIII's support for the university, also persuading his family friend Mary Gwendoline Caldwell to pledge $300,000 to establish it. On April 10, 1887, Pope Leo XIII sent James Cardinal Gibbons a letter granting permission to establish the university.[10] On March 7, 1889, the Pope issued the encyclical Magni Nobis,[11] granting the university its charter and establishing its mission as the instruction of Catholicism and human nature together at the graduate level. By developing new leaders and new knowledge, the university was intended to strengthen and enrich Catholicism in the United States.[12]

The university was incorporated in 1887 on 66 acres (27 ha) of land next to the Old Soldiers Home.[10] President Grover Cleveland was in attendance for the laying of the cornerstone of Divinity Hall, now known as Caldwell Hall, on May 24, 1888, as were members of Congress and the U.S. Cabinet.


The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the centerpiece of the campus
An aerial view of campus in 1920

When the university first opened on November 13, 1889, the curriculum consisted of lectures in mental and moral philosophy, English literature, the sacred scriptures, and the various branches of theology. At the end of the second term, lectures on canon law were added. The first students were graduated in 1889.[10] By 1900, CUA was one of the 14 colleges that offered doctorate programs which formed the Association of American Universities.[10]

In 1904, the university added an undergraduate program. The president of the first undergraduate class was Frank Kuntz, whose memoir of that period was published by the Catholic University of America Press. The university gives an annual award named for Kuntz.[13]

Bishop and Rector Thomas J. Shahan gave a speech to the Ancient Order of Hibernians in 1894 in which he advocated for Irish independence in language, culture, and politics. This resulted in the Hibernians endowing a chair of Gaelic Languages and Literature at the university.[14] Only Harvard University had a similar position at the time, and this attracted the attention of William Butler Yeats.[14] During a trip to the United States, Yeats spoke to students in McMahon Hall on February 21, 1904.[14] In a follow-up letter to Shahan, he said: "you have surely a great university and I wish we had its like in Ireland."[14]

Reconstruction and Civil Rights eras

Despite Washington, D.C., being a Southern and segregated city when the university was founded, it admitted black Catholic men as students.[15] At the time, the only other college in the District to do so was Howard University, founded for African-American education after the Civil War.[15] In 1895, Catholic University had three black students, all from DC. "They were simply tested as to their previous education, and this being found satisfactory, no notice whatever was taken of their color. They stand on exactly the same footing as other students of equal intellectual calibre and acquirements", according to Keane.[15] Conaty, speaking to President William McKinley during a visit on June 1, 1900, said that the university, "like the Catholic Church ... knows no race line and no color line."[15]

This policy was reversed in 1914, with CUA kowtowing to segregationist policies and commencing denial of admissions to Black students.[16]

Interwar period

In 1935, the university's coat of arms was designed by Pierre de Chaignon la Rose.[17]

A victory parade for the 1936 Orange Bowl champions went up Pennsylvania Avenue on its circular route from Union Station to campus. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, "on his way to church, became an unwitting parader, when the march de triumph jammed traffic in front of the White House."[18][19]

In 1938, due to the rise of the antisemitic priest Charles Coughlin and not long after Kristallnacht, CUA officials asked CBS and NBC to broadcast an event live from the university campus.[20] The broadcast had little effect, participating clerics did not mention Coughlin, and barely mentioned Nazi conduct by name, while offering general support for Jews.[20]

The university began admitting Black students again in 1936, following protests from Thomas Wyatt Turner, the Federated Colored Catholics and NAACP (both of which Turner co-founded), and the Catholic Interracial Council. Forty Black students were enrolled by 1939 with most in the School of Arts and Sciences. However, Black students continued to experience discrimination at the university with segregation practiced in many parts of the campus until the mid-1940s.[21]

Law school

Main article: Columbus School of Law

In 1954, Columbus University merged with the law program of CUA to become the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America,[22] after the American Bar Association in 1951 challenged law schools not affiliated with a university. The CUA law school was the first professional school of the university.[citation needed]

Recent history

The presence of CUA attracted other Catholic institutions to the area, including colleges, religious orders, and national service organizations. Between 1900 and 1940, more than 50 international Catholic institutions rented or owned property in neighboring Brookland. Following World War II, Catholic University had a dramatic expansion in enrollment, thanks to veterans making use of the G.I. Bill to complete college educations. By the early 21st century, the university has over 6,000 students from all 50 states and around the world.

In 2018 the university experienced some challenges as administrators worked to reduce a $3.5 million deficit. Some faculty objected to the draft plan and voted "no confidence" in the president and provost.[23]

On September 22, 2021, it was announced that John Garvey would be stepping down as President of Catholic University on June 30, 2022.[24]

Knights of Columbus

Main article: History of the Knights of Columbus and Catholic University of America

Knights of Columbus presented a check to Catholic University of America on the steps of the university's McMahon Hall in 1904 to establish a Chair of American History.

The Knights of Columbus and Catholic University of America have a history of "a close and supportive relationship" that dates almost to the founding of the university.[22][25]

In 1899, the National Council of the K of C established a Knights of Columbus Chair of American History at the university.[22] More than 10,000 Knights were on hand on April 13, 1904, to present a $55,633.79 check[26] ($1,399,831.80 in 2012 dollars[27]) to endow the chair.[22]

In December 1904, Cardinal Gibbons appealed to the Knights for more financial aid to help meet operating costs after some investments went sour. The Order gave nearly $25,000.[26] By 1907 the financial situation of Catholic University had improved but was still shaky. Every Knight was asked to contribute $1 a year for a five-year period, and in December 1913, a $500,000 endowment was established.[22][26]

In 1920, the order contributed $60,000 toward the Catholic University gymnasium and drill hall, which later was adapted for use as the Crough Building housing the School of Architecture. In 2006, the Knights announced an $8,000,000 gift to the university to renovate Keane Hall and rename it as McGivney Hall, after the Knights' founder, Michael J. McGivney.[22][28] The building, which was vacant, now houses the Washington session of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, which was funded by the Knights and established at the Dominican House of Studies adjacent to the CUA campus in 1988.[26][29]

In August 1965, a $1,000,000 trust was established to fund the Pro Deo and Pro Patria Scholarship, providing twelve undergraduate scholarships annually to the university.[30] In 1989 the Knights voted a $2,000,000 birthday gift to the U.S. bishops on their bicentennial, to be given to Catholic University and used to fund special projects jointly chosen by the university and the Knights.[22][26] Part of it was used to build the Columbus School of Law.[26]

Papal visits

CUA is the only American university to have been visited by three popes and is one of only two universities to have any visits by a pontiff.[10] Pope John Paul II visited on October 7, 1979.[31] On April 16, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address at the campus about Catholic education and academic freedom.[32][33] Pope Francis visited on September 23, 2015, during his trip to the United States, where he celebrated Mass on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.[34]


See also: List of Catholic University of America buildings

A blimp over Gibbons Hall during the 1917–18 school year
Caldwell Hall
Pryzbyla Plaza, with the National Shrine in the background
The dome of the Basilica

The CUA campus is in the residential community of Brookland in Northeast Washington; its main entrance is 620 Michigan Ave., NE. The campus is bound by Michigan Avenue to the south, North Capitol Street to the west, Hawaii Avenue to the north, and John McCormick Road to the east. It is three miles (5 km) north of the Capitol building.

The tree-lined campus is 193 acres (78 ha). Romanesque and modern design dominate among the university's 48 major buildings. Between McMahon and Gibbons halls and alongside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception runs The Mall, a large strip of grass often used by Ultimate Frisbee players and sunbathers. Conte Circle is in the middle of Centennial Village, a cluster of eight residential houses.

The Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center opened in the spring of 2003, bringing student dining services, the campus bookstore, student organization offices, an 800-person ballroom, a convenience store, and more student services under one roof.[35] The John K. Mullen Library completed a $6,000,000 renovation in 2004.[36][citation needed]

The Columbus School of Law is on the main campus and has a building with mock courtrooms, a library, chapel, classrooms, and offices.

Theological College, the United States' national Catholic seminary, is affiliated with CUA, sending students there for their studies.[37] Also located near campus is the St. John Paul II Seminary, a minor seminary for the Archdiocese of Washington but also serving nearby dioceses and hosting seminarians from dioceses around the country. Students from the minor seminary study for their undergraduate philosophy degrees at the university. Several organizations of religious life also have seminaries nearby—including the Josephites, Carmelites, Franciscans, Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and Paulist Fathers, each of which send students to CUA.

In April 2004, CUA purchased 49 acres (20 ha) of land from the Armed Forces Retirement Home. It is the largest plot of open space in the District and makes CUA the largest university in D.C. by area. There are no plans for the parcel other than to secure it for future growth.

In 2007, CUA unveiled plans to expand its campus by adding three new dormitories to the north side of campus.[38][39] The first of these, the seven-story Opus Hall, was completed in 2009 in the university's traditional Collegiate Gothic style. It houses 420 upper-class students and is Washington's first LEED-certified dormitory. Opus Hall is the first residential community to house both male and female students since the 2007 adoption of a single-sex dormitory policy.[40]

In 2022, Welcome Plaza, located between Fr. O’Connell and Gibbons halls, was built to house the 4 ton sculpture Angels Unawares by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz. A fountain was installed below the sculpture, creating an illusion that the boat is sailing forward within Welcome Plaza.[41][42]

CUA demolished Conaty and Spellman dormitories, which allowed for the development of Monroe Street by Bozzuto contracting. In partnership with the university, Monroe Street Market and the Brookland Arts Walk opened in 2014. A CUA Barnes & Noble bookstore opened on Monroe. New apartments in the development allow older students the opportunity to reside off campus within walking distance of the university.

The campus is served by the Brookland-CUA station on the Red Line of the Washington Metro. Near the campus are the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.

Green initiatives and sustainability

CUA has environmental sustainability programs, including participation in Earth Day, Casey Trees tree planting, and Campus Beautification Day. CUA's newest building, Opus Hall, is LEED-compliant, and the school buys 30% of its electricity from green sources.[43] CUA participated in the 2010 College Sustainability Report Card rating.[43][44][45]

In 2009, the School of Architecture and Planning introduced a Master of Science program in sustainable design.[43]

Satellite campuses


Further information: Australian Catholic University

In 2015, CUA began a partnership with the Australian Catholic University to effectively own and operate a second campus in Rome, Italy. It is housed in a former convent and includes a chapel.[46] Before being sent home during the COVID-19 pandemic, 35 students were at the campus.[46]


By 2015, Catholic University officials had recognized that most Hispanics in the United States are Catholics but historically have not had access to Catholic higher education in their areas.[47] According to a university press release, an analysis by Catholic University found that of "the 25 U.S. cities with the largest total increases in the Hispanic population, nine have no Catholic college or university in close proximity."[48]

Given this demographic reality, in 2017 Catholic University began exploring partnerships with existing institutions in the Southwest.[47][49] Several cities with large populations of Hispanics and Catholics were considered when then-Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild heard of Catholic University's desire to open a satellite campus[47] and facilitated meetings between University leadership and then-Bishop of Tucson Gerald Kicanas.[47][50]

In 2019, a partnership with Pima Community College was announced under which students could earn an associate degree from Pima and a bachelor's degree in business management from Catholic University's Metropolitan School of Professional Studies.[51][52] Between 20 and 25 students were initially be admitted to the program, with 14 eventually enrolling for their studies at Catholic University Tucson.[52][49][47]

Over the course of the program, two-thirds of courses are taken remotely and one-third are taken on the Pima campus.[52][51][49] Local business leaders as well as faculty and staff at the Catholic University of America main campus in Washington, DC serve as adjunct professors.[47]

The first class of four students graduated in 2024[53][54], and the program has grown from 14 to 65 students,[53][54] with the further goal to double their enrollment by fall 2026.[54]


In 2021, a new site in Alexandria, Virginia, occupying 18,500 square feet on the second floor of Catholic Charities USA's headquarters building, was opened to offer a number of noncredit certificate programs.[55] On May 31, 2024, the University closed the Alexandria facility due to lack of demand for the programs offered there.


Academic rankings
U.S. News & World Report[57]120
Washington Monthly[58]267
U.S. News & World Report[62]1024

Catholic University has 12 schools:[63][64]

It also has 21 research centers and facilities as well as serving as home to the Catholic University of America Press, established in 1939. The 12 schools offer Doctor of Philosophy degrees (or appropriate professional degrees) in 66 programs and Master's Degrees in 103 programs.[65] Undergraduate degrees are awarded in 72 programs by six schools: architecture and planning, arts and sciences, engineering, music, nursing, and philosophy.[65]

Undergraduates combine a liberal arts curriculum in arts and sciences with courses in a major field of study. The Metropolitan School provides programs for adults who wish to earn baccalaureate degrees or participate in continuing education and certificate programs on a part-time basis. Catholic University is the only U.S. university with an ecclesiastical faculty of canon law (established by the Holy See in 1923)[66] and is one of the few U.S. universities with ecclesiastical faculties of philosophy and sacred theology. Theological College, the university seminary, prepares men for the priesthood. The School of Theology and Religious Studies is a member of the Washington Theological Consortium.[67]

The Catholic University of America announced on January 8, 2013, the creation of a School of Business and Economics. Previously housed in the School of Arts and Sciences as Department of Business and Economics, the university's board of trustees voted in December 2012 to confirm the creation of the school commencing January 1, 2013, after a three-year process of discernment, evaluation, and planning.[68][69] In fall 2013, the School of Library and Information Science became a department of the School of Arts and Sciences, giving the university its present composition.

Ninety-eight percent of full-time faculty have doctoral or terminal degrees and 68% teach undergraduates.[65] Of the full-time faculty, 59% are Catholic. In 2018, every tenured and tenure track professor of biology received funding from the National Institutes of Health, which is "quite rare in any university".[70]

CUA was one of the fourteen founding members of the Association of American Universities, although it withdrew its membership in 2002, citing a conflict with its mission.[71] In addition, it has been recommended by the Cardinal Newman Society in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.[72] It was described as one of the 25 most underrated colleges in the United States.[73][74]

Research centers and facilities

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources in this section. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (January 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

According to the National Science Foundation, CUA spent $25.5 million on research and development in 2018.[75]

Over time, several national Catholic scholarly associations became based at the university, including the Catholic Biblical Association of America, publisher of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, and (for many years) the American Catholic Philosophical Association. The university is also home to the Catholic University of America Press.

Research institutes located here include:


Further information: Oliveira Lima Library

The main library on campus is the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library. The library system houses more than 1.3 million books and print volumes and provides access to tens of thousands of electronic journals and books. The University is also a partner in the Washington Research Library Consortium. The special collections of the university support advanced research and preserve University records, manuscript collections, and audiovisual materials which document the history of Catholics in America and the history of Catholic University. Rare books collections contain materials ranging from medieval manuscripts to modern first editions. The Semitics/Institute of Christian Oriental Research (ICOR) library supports research on the languages of the Bible and the ancient Near East.[76] A special autonomous library, the Oliveira Lima Library, sometimes referred to as the Ibero-American Library, houses one of the largest collections of rare books on history and literature of Portuguese Brazilian culture outside of Brazil.[77]

Academic freedom

Dismissal of Professor Charles Curran

Further information: Charles Curran (theologian)

In 1967, a tenured professor of theology, Reverend Charles E. Curran, was fired for his views on birth control but was reinstated after a five-day faculty-led strike.[78] In 1986, the Vatican declared that Curran could no longer teach theology at Catholic University after the Curia department in charge of promulgating Catholic doctrine, headed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, decided he was unfit. The areas of dispute included publishing articles that debated theological and ethical views regarding divorce, artificial contraception, masturbation, pre-marital intercourse, and homosexual acts.[79]

As noted in the American Association of University Professors report, "Had it not been for the intervention of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Professor Curran would undoubtedly still be active in the university's Department of Theology, a popular teacher, honored theologian, and respected colleague."[79] Curran's attorneys argued that CUA did not follow proper procedures or its policy statements in handling the case. In response, CUA claimed that the Vatican's actions against Curran trumped any campus-based policy or tenure rules. In 1989, Curran filed suit against Catholic University, claiming unlawful termination. Curran's case was ultimately dismissed; the court found Catholic University had the right to fire Curran for teaching theology from a viewpoint that contradicted the school's religion.[80]

In 1990, the AAUP defended Curran and censured Catholic University's administration for failing to adhere to the AAUP's Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The AAUP found that "unsatisfactory conditions of academic freedom and tenure have been found to prevail" at The Catholic University of America.[81] As of December 2020, the administration of Catholic University remains on the list of censured institutions.[82] AAUP censure is a purely symbolic designation that does not effect an institution's accreditation or the standing of AAUP members and prospective members on the faculty at a school whose administration remains under censure.[83]

The administration of Catholic University has consistently reached out to the AAUP to explore lifting the censure. The two conditions for having the censure removed are inviting Curran, whose license to teach Catholic theology had been suspended by the Vatican, back to campus and changing the university's "Statement on Academic Freedom".[84] President David M. O'Connell refused to do either, saying, "every American university has a right to govern itself according to its own identity, mission, standards, and procedures."[84] The Vatican's decision regarding Curran's qualifications to teach Catholic theology was made unilaterally and is unlikely to change unless Curran's stances come into compliance with church teachings. The Catholic University of America's bylaws require the school to comply with relevant Vatican policies and designates that the Archbishop of Washington D.C., who is chosen by the Vatican, is ex officio the school's chancellor.[85][86] This system makes it extremely unlikely Catholic University will amend the school's charter and come into compliance with the current conditions expressed by the AAUP for lifting their censure of the school's administration.

Pope Benedict XVI about to address the crowd in 2008

Speaker policy

The university as a policy does not allow outside guests to speak on campus to any audience if they have previously expressed an opinion on abortion or other serious issues conflicting with the Catholic Church's teaching. Applying this policy in 2004, CUA was criticized for rescinding Stanley Tucci's invitation for a seminar about Italian cinema, because he had lent past support for Planned Parenthood.[87]

The next year, in 2005, the school was criticized for initially rejecting an application for recognition of a student chapter of the NAACP; one of the reasons officials cited in its rejection was the national organization's pro-choice stance.[88] In 2006 the CUA administration barred a student-run on-campus performance of Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues.

In 2009, the school made its speaker policy more stringent, prohibiting all candidates for political office from speaking on campus. Representatives of both Democratic and Republican clubs on campus have criticized the decision.[89]

In January 2024, the university terminated a psychology lecturer who had invited a guest speaker whose "views on life issues and on the anthropology of the human person were not consistent with our mission and identity as a faithful Catholic university."[90]


The student population in 2019 was 5,059.[91] Approximately 91% of undergraduates receive some form of financial aid. There are slightly more female students at 53%, and a 1:7 faculty to student ratio. 83.8% of full-time faculty have a terminal degree.[92]

Student life

Further information: WCUA (FM)

Gibbons Hall (built in 1911), a residence hall

There are over 100 registered student clubs and organizations at CUA for a wide variety of interests including athletics, academics, social, Greek life, service, political and religious. Annual events include week-long Homecoming celebrations, the Mr. CUA competition, and several dances including the Beaux Arts Ball, the Mistletoe Ball, and the Athletes Ball. In addition to radio station WCUA, other campus media outlets include The Crosier, a scholarly publication concerning Catholic social teaching, The Tower, the campus' independent weekly newspaper, and CRUX, a literary magazine.

Although Catholic University states that it does not have any Greek life on campus, it has three Greek social organizations and one Greek service organization. Catholic University Greek life includes Alpha Delta Gamma, the national Catholic social fraternity–Kappa chapter, and Kappa Tau Gamma, the local Christian social-service sorority. Although not officially recognized by the university, the Sigma-Psi chapter of the Kappa Sigma fraternity received an official charter in 2014. The members are all students of the university and are active on and around the campus. Alpha Phi Omega, a national service fraternity, has a Catholic University chapter.

Music and drama

The music and drama programs, as part of a class, stage productions each semester, performances ranging from Broadway productions to plays and operas. Catholic University students also participate in a symphony orchestra and choral groups, including a cappella groups Take Note, RedLine,[93] and the Washingtones.[94]

There have been several songs associated with the university over the years.[95] The most recent fight song, written by Steve Schatz, was adopted in 2002. The original fight song, "The Flying Cardinals", dates back to before the 1930s.[96] There are two alma maters, considered to be the university's official songs. The first, "Hail CUA" was set to music composed by Victor Herbert and was adopted in 1920.[96] The other, "Guardians of Truth" by Fr. Thomas McLean, actually came in 2nd place in the 1920 competition but was widely adopted in the ensuing years.[96]

Albert Von Tilzer, composer of Take Me Out to the Ball Game, wrote two songs for the university, We're Rooting For You and CU Will Shine Tonight. The earliest sports song, Through the Town, dates from 1916.[95] Drink a Highball was a popular song during Prohibition. In honor of the university's 125th anniversary, an hour-long nostalgic musical revue was performed.[97]

Campus ministry and religious life

84% of undergraduates and 59% of graduate students self-identify as Catholic. The campus ministry has two groups of student ministers: the resident ministers, who live in residence halls and focus primarily on upperclassmen, and the house members, who focus on first year freshmen.

The Friday Night Planning Committee works with the house members to plan activities for Friday nights that are alcohol-free. Campus ministry also coordinates university liturgies, plans and runs retreats, and operates the online Prayernet.


Main article: Catholic University Cardinals

Further information: Catholic University Cardinals football, Catholic Cardinals men's basketball, and Catholic University Cardinals rowing

Catholic University of America's athletic teams are the Catholic University Cardinals. The university is a member of the Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), primarily competing in the Landmark Conference for most of its sports since the 2007–08 academic year. They are associate members of the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference for rowing. The team colors are red (PMS 1805) and black. The first recorded football game was played against Mount Saint Mary's College on November 28, 1895, but records indicate earlier track and field events.

The university beat the University of Mississippi at the second Orange Bowl in 1936, 20–19.[98] They also tied the Arizona State Teachers College at Tempe (now Arizona State University) in the 1940 Sun Bowl. The basketball Cardinals played in the 1944 NCAA basketball tournament, finishing as the Eastern Fourth Place team in the eight-team era of the tournament. They lost to runner-up Dartmouth College 63-38 in the regional semifinals, and Temple University 55-35 in the regional consolation game.

CUA competes in 25 NCAA Division III intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis and track & field (indoor and outdoor); while women's sports include basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field (indoor and outdoor) and volleyball.

Non-varsity sports

Students field club teams in sports including cheerleading, ice hockey, rugby, sailing, and lacrosse.

Notable alumni and faculty

Main article: List of Catholic University of America people

There are many notable alumni of The Catholic University of America, particularly in the arts, in the Catholic Church and in public service. Graduates include cardinals, bishops, priests, and nuns. CUA's current total of alumni exceeds 83,000, including 12 living cardinals.[99]

In 1942, Catholic University became the first university to award a doctorate in geology to an African American, Marguerite Williams.[100][101]

University rectors and presidents

  1. Bishop John J. Keane (1887–1896)
  2. Bishop Thomas J. Conaty (1896–1903)
  3. Bishop Denis J. O'Connell (1903–1909)
  4. Bishop Thomas J. Shahan (1909–1927)
  5. Bishop James Hugh Ryan (1928–1935)
  6. Bishop Joseph M. Corrigan (1936–1942)
  7. Bishop Patrick J. McCormick (1943–1953)
  8. Bishop Bryan J. McEntegart (1953–1957)
  9. Bishop William J. McDonald (1957–1967, last Rector)
  10. Clarence C. Walton (1969–1978, first President)
  11. Edmund D. Pellegrino (1978–1982)
  12. William J. Byron (1982–1992)
  13. Patrick Ellis (1992–1998)
  14. Bishop David M. O'Connell (1998–2010)[102]
  15. John H. Garvey (2010–2022)[103]
  16. Peter Kilpatrick (2022–present)

Board of trustees

Main article: Board of Trustees of Catholic University of America

CUA was founded by the nation's bishops and they continue to have a presence on the board of trustees. There are 48 elected members and the bylaws stipulate that 24 must be clerics, 18 of whom must be members of the bishops' conference.[10] Of the 51 total trustees (including the university president), 24 are bishops (including seven cardinals). In addition, there is one religious sister and two priests.


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "College Navigator – The Catholic University of America".
  3. ^ "Rankings". Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  4. ^ "University Facts". Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  5. ^ "Layout 1" (PDF). Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  6. ^ "Quick Facts". Catholic University Cardinals. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ "A Brief History of Catholic University". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  8. ^ The Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M. (April 10, 2003). "Remarks at the Dedication of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center". Retrieved October 9, 2008.
  9. ^ "Carnegie Classifications Institution Lookup". Center for Postsecondary Education. Retrieved July 28, 2020.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Brief History of Catholic University - The Catholic University of America". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  11. ^ Pope Leo XIII (March 7, 1889). "Magni Nobis". Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  12. ^ "A Catholic University; The Zeal of a Few Prelates Rewarded". The New York Times. June 15, 1885. p. 5. Let there be, then, an American Catholic University, where our young men, in the atmosphere of faith and purity, of high thinking and plain living, shall become more intimately conscious of the truth of their religion and of the genius of their country, where they shall learn the repose and dignity which belong to their ancient Catholic descent, and yet not lose the fire which glows in the blood of a new people
  13. ^ The president of the first undergraduate class was Frank Kuntz, whose memoir of that period was published by the university press. Frank Kuntz, Undergraduate Days: 1904-1908 (CUA 1958). The university gives an annual award named for Kuntz.[1] Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b c d Higgins, Iain (November 10, 2017). "W.B. Yeats: Catholic's Legendary Literature Guest". The Tower. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  15. ^ a b c d Nuesse, C. Joseph (1997). "Segregation and Desegregation at the Catholic University of America". Washington History. Vol. 9, no. 1 Spring/Summer. pp. 54–70. JSTOR 40073275.
  16. ^ Ochs, Stephen J. (July 1, 1993). Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, 1871–1960. LSU Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-1859-7.
  17. ^ "Identity Standards". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved January 3, 2021.
  18. ^ Considine, George (January 6, 1936). "3,000 Fans Roar Welcome to Returning Catholic U. Gridmen". Washington Post.
  19. ^ "1936 Orange Bowl". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  20. ^ a b Limbong, Andrew (November 17, 2018). "80 Years Since The Catholic University Of America Vocalized Opposition To The Nazis". Weekend Edition Saturday. National Public Radio. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  21. ^ "Segregation and Desegregation at Catholic University". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on January 24, 2021. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g Pike, Robin (Fall 2008). "The Archives Recalls CUA's Relationship with the Knights of Columbus" (PDF). ACUA Newsletter: 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  23. ^ Jenkins, Jack (June 1, 2018). "Catholic University of America faculty vote raises stakes in battle with president". Religion News Service. Retrieved June 7, 2018.
  24. ^ Lumpkin, Lauren (September 22, 2021). "Catholic University president to step down after 12 years". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  25. ^ Wilkinson, Richard (May 1, 2007). "Sign of New Vigor on Campus: Keane Hall to Become McGivney". Inside CUA. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  26. ^ a b c d e f "The Knights and Catholic D.C." The Knights of Columbus. September 27, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  27. ^ "The Inflation Calculator". Archived from the original on July 1, 2007. Retrieved August 9, 2013. What cost $55633.79 in 1904 would cost $1399831.80 in 2012.
  28. ^ "$8 Million for The Catholic University of America" (Press release). New Haven, CT. May 8, 2006. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  29. ^ "History of the Institute". John Paul II Institute. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  30. ^ "Fourth Degree Pro Deo and Pro Patria Scholarships". Knights of Columbus. Archived from the original on February 11, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  31. ^ "Pope John Paul II's 1979 Remarks". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  32. ^ "Papal visit information". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  33. ^ "Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI". April 17, 2008. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  34. ^ "Catholic University to Welcome Pope Francis". The Catholic University of America. April 27, 2015. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  35. ^ Herald, Catholic. "b Pryzbyla Center: A Dream Come True at Catholic U. -b- The Arlington Catholic Herald". Archived from the original on March 28, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  36. ^ "InsideCUA Online". Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  37. ^ Herald, Catholic. "Theological College withdraws invitation to Jesuit priest". Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  38. ^ "'Campus Gothic' Dorm Set for Spot Near Flather". The Tower. Archived from the original on August 8, 2009.
  39. ^ "Construction Begins for Opus Hall". The Tower. Archived from the original on August 27, 2009.
  40. ^ "Catholic U. Will Return to Single-Sex Dorms". Inside Higher Ed. June 14, 2011. Retrieved June 15, 2011.
  41. ^ "Interfaith ceremony dedicates new home of Angels Unawares statue on Catholic University's campus | Catholic University Advancement". Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  42. ^ Pattison, Mark. "New casting of Schmalz immigration artwork unveiled". Catholic News Service. Retrieved February 15, 2024.
  43. ^ a b c Master, Maggie (May 1, 2009). "CUA Makes Strides in Environmental Sustainability". Inside CUA. Retrieved August 3, 2009.
  44. ^ "The College Sustainability Report Card". Archived from the original on April 5, 2009. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  45. ^ "Plant Trees". Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved June 8, 2009.
  46. ^ a b "Using the Lockdown for Good: CUA Professor Shares His Family's Experience". Catholic News Service. March 26, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  47. ^ a b c d e f Rico, Gabriela (April 18, 2020). "Private university coming to Tucson has local business leaders lining up to collaborate". Arizona Daily Star. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  48. ^ Jedrych, Jacqueline (April 10, 2020). "Catholic University to Offer Tucson Business Program". The Tower. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  49. ^ a b c Villarreal, Phil (April 21, 2020). "Catholic University to launch Tucson business degree program". KGUN. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  50. ^ Weisenburger, Edward J. "The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., will open its first satellite campus in Tucson". Diocese of Tucson. Archived from the original on April 27, 2020. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  51. ^ a b "Catholic University-Tucson". Pima Community College. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  52. ^ a b c "Catholic University to launch Tucson business degree program". KGUN. April 21, 2020. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
  53. ^ a b Krautscheid, Carissa (February 20, 2024). "Catholic University-Tucson announces first graduate of pilot program". New Outlook. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  54. ^ a b c Barillas, Mariana (May 14, 2024). "First-Ever Graduates From Tucson Pilot Program Celebrate Commencement". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved May 15, 2024.
  55. ^ "Catholic University Adds Alexandria to Growing 'Skyline'". The Catholic University of America. March 4, 2021.
  56. ^ "Forbes America's Top Colleges List 2023". Forbes. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  57. ^ "2023-2024 Best National Universities". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 22, 2023.
  58. ^ "2023 National University Rankings". Washington Monthly. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  59. ^ "ShanghaiRanking's 2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  60. ^ "QS World University Rankings 2025: Top global universities". Quacquarelli Symonds. Retrieved June 6, 2024.
  61. ^ "World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education. Retrieved September 27, 2023.
  62. ^ "2022-23 Best Global Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  63. ^ "Schools at CUA - The Catholic University of America". The Catholic University of America. July 9, 2013. Archived from the original on June 25, 2014. Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  64. ^ "New Business School". Retrieved August 14, 2014.
  65. ^ a b c "Fact Book". Archived from the original on May 17, 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2009.
  66. ^ Sweet, Alfred H., A.B., A.M., Ph.D., The National Encyclopedia, Volume Two (New York: P.F. Collier & Son Corporation, 1935), entry "CANON LAW", pg. 416.
  67. ^ "Member Institutions". Washington Theological Consortium. Retrieved October 2, 2009.
  68. ^ "New Business School". Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  69. ^ Korn, Melissa (January 7, 2013). "B-School Mixes Faith and Finance". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  70. ^ "Biology Professors Receive Rare Level of NIH Research Funding". The Catholic University of America. June 27, 2018. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  71. ^ Fain, Paul (April 21, 2010). "As AAU Admits Georgia Tech to Its Exclusive Club, Other Universities Await the Call". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 31, 2010.
  72. ^ Kelly Conroy (August 7, 2013). "Faithful Catholic Colleges Included in Princeton's Best 378 Colleges List". Cardinal Newman Society. Archived from the original on August 25, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
  73. ^ Polland, Jennifer; Rosenberg, Max; Hickey, Walter (June 29, 2013), "The 25 Most Underrated Colleges In America", Business Insider, retrieved June 20, 2013
  74. ^ Loudenback, Tanza; Martin, Emmie; Kiersz, Andy (October 30, 2015). "The 50 most underrated colleges in America". Business Insider. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  75. ^ "Table 20. Higher education R&D expenditures, ranked by FY 2018 R&D expenditures: FYs 2009–18". National Science Foundation. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  76. ^ "About the Libraries". Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America. Retrieved March 7, 2023.
  77. ^ Greenhalgh, Laura (June 18, 2011). "Biblioteca em Washington recupera legado de Oliveira Lima". O Estado de S. Paulo (in Portuguese). São Paulo, Brazil. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  78. ^ "An Urge to Retire". Time. July 21, 1967. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  79. ^ a b "Academic Freedom and Tenure" (PDF). American Association of University Professors. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  80. ^ Hyer, Marjorie (March 1, 1989). "Curran Loses Suit Against Catholic U.; Theology Professor's Dismissal Upheld". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 16, 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  81. ^ "Reports: Academic Freedom and Tenure 'The Catholic University of America'" Archived August 21, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, published September–October 1989, Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  82. ^ "List". Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved July 30, 2009.
  83. ^ "Censure List | AAUP". July 18, 2006.
  84. ^ a b "From the President's Desk". Archived from the original on December 18, 2007.
  85. ^ The Catholic University of America: Faculty Handbook Part I: The Government of the University - B. Current Governing Documents Archived October 6, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  86. ^ Pontifical Status: The Catholic University of America's Special Relationship With the Pope, Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  87. ^ "Catholic U. Bars Actor-Activist at Forum". Washington Post. September 17, 2004. Archived from the original on September 28, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
  88. ^ "Year in Review". The Tower. April 22, 2005. Retrieved November 8, 2014.[dead link]
  89. ^ "Catholic U. Extends Speaker Ban To All Political Candidates". CBS News. February 11, 2009.
  90. ^ Weissman, Sara. "Catholic University Fires Instructor Over 'Abortion Doula' Speaker's Comments". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved April 9, 2024.
  91. ^ "Light the Way: The Campaign for Catholic University | Catholic University Advancement".
  92. ^ University, Catholic. "At a Glance". The Catholic University of America. Retrieved July 9, 2022.
  93. ^ "RedLine".[dead link]
  94. ^ "Welcome the "Washingtones" to Catholic University". September 12, 2019. Retrieved January 25, 2022.
  95. ^ a b "Songs of Old CUA". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  96. ^ a b c "The School Songs" (PDF). The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  97. ^ "'Songs of Old CUA' Performance Brings Musical History to Life". Archived from the original on August 3, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  98. ^ "History of the Orange Bowl". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012.
  99. ^ "New Philippine Cardinal Has Ties to University" (Press release). Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America. January 23, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  100. ^ Ogilvie, Marilyn; Harvey, Joy (2000). The Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science. New York, NY: Routledge. p. 1382. ISBN 0-415-92040-X.
  101. ^ Brown, Mitchell (November 25, 2007). "Marguerite Thomas Williams: Geologist, Geographer". The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences. Archived from the original on October 25, 2006. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  102. ^ "CUA President Announces Intention to Step Down". October 2, 2009. Retrieved August 9, 2013.
  103. ^ "About President John Garvey". Archived from the original on October 1, 2019. Retrieved August 9, 2013.

Further reading