O’Donovan discusses plans for final months

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March 15, 2001

At a meeting Tuesday, University president Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. said he plans to continue work on the University’s partnership with MedStar Health and the Third Century Campaign before he steps down as president in June.

O’Donovan announced his intention to retire last April. At that time, O’Donovan said if everything progressed according to schedule, the University would have completed one year of its partnership with MedStar Health and would be in the middle of several major building projects by this June.

O’Donovan also said he hoped the Third Century fund-raising campaign would be completed. The Campaign has since been extended to $1 billion by June 30, 2003.

O’Donovan did not mention specific plans for his work on the MedStar partnership and the Third Century Campaign. According to Julie Bataille, Assistant Vice President for Communications, both projects require continual work.

In 1989, O’Donovan succeeded Timothy Healy, S.J., as Georgetown’s president and will have completed 12 years in that position this June.

The University Board of Directors elected Senior Vice President John J. DeGioia as O’Donovan’s successor this February. DeGioia is the first lay person to run any of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the country.

O’Donovan said he did not think the University’s move to elect a lay person as president is a sign that Georgetown is changing or moving away from the Jesuit identity.

“I think it’s a sign of our ambition to be the best possible university we can be,” O’Donovan said.

According to O’Donovan, the primary challenges facing Georgetown are the information revolution and the impacts of cultural and ethical responses of globalization.

According to Juan Gonzalez, Vice President of Student Affairs, DeGioia will need to work to secure the resources to maintain the selectivity and high quality of Georgetown students and faculty.

“Georgetown is underfunded compared to comparable institutions,” Gonzalez said. “This is a significant challenge for any president.”

O’Donovan said he is particularly proud of the work he has done for students during his presidency.

“Of all the things I’m proud of, none I have done by myself. You learn as president how free and and also how dependent you really are,” O’Donovan said. “It’s been a wonderful chance to work with people.”

During his presidency, there have been concerns that, due to his wide-range of responsibilities, O’Donovan has not had sufficient time to devote to personal contact with students.

According to Gonzalez, O’Donovan has developed deep relationships through extensive contact with students. Gonzalez said such contact is not typical of University presidents.

After O’Donovan steps down as president, he plans to go to the Maine shore to relax and disconnect. Next year he plans to write and live in the Jesuit community residence at the American House in New York.

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