Father Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. is leaving us. Unlike many of the high-level administrators who have departed recently or will be departing shortly, O’Donovan will be moving on to a quieter life. It’s no wonder he needs a rest, though, in his 12-year tenure, he has worked hard. It seems fitting to take a look back at what O’Donovan will leave behind from his administration.
Absent from many Georgetown-ites’ memories will be O’Donovan’s face. Over the years he has become known for not being on the campus of the University over which he reigns. Incidents such as the Solidarity Committee’s sit-in against sweatshops and the aftermath of the David Shick incident remain etched in many people’s minds with no image of O’Donovan immediately attempting to put the pieces together. Instead, they recall half-hearted post-facto attempts at reconciliation, such as an oversight committee for University licensing of products and a fountain to honor the memory of a dead student.
O’Donovan’s record on hate crimes is questionable, too. Although his website on the Georgetown server touts many admirable strides towards diversity?such as a female Provost, an increasingly diverse Law Center and an underwhelming 22 percent of the first-year class hailing from international and minority backgrounds?his response to the growing number of incidents directed against Jews, gays, blacks and other campus minorities leaves much to be desired. E-mails sent University-wide and forums to discuss what happened just don’t seem to have an effect, as evidenced by the continuation of the incidents.
Ideally, incoming President Jack DeGioia will make an effort to have a more visible presence on campus and strive to be a leader with strong and quick responses to those situations that affect students the most.
As easy as it easy to harp on the negatives, however, O’Donovan has also left his mark in some positive ways, especially in financially positive ways.
His success at raising nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars towards the University’s capital campaign will surely have a lasting impact. As Georgetown’s endowment grows and more money becomes available for students and campus improvements, placing Georgetown on par with similar institutions, the students will have O’Donovan to thank. It will be equally impressive if DeGioia can continue with the same momentum.
Future Hoyas can also remember O’Donovan in the years down the road when the Medical Center is still functioning. It was O’Donovan who negotiated the deal with MedStar Health to operate the hospital, thereby saving the University millions of dollars. DeGioia’s ability to be fiscally responsible and innovative will certainly be under scrutiny as he steps into office.
Leo, you have done a great deal. We’ll miss you, but probably a lot more than you will miss us.