Image Courtesy of Emma Smith
by Trinity Ruiz
On Thursday, March 31st, students of Catholic University dedicated their evening to giving a formal, but familial farewell to President John and Mrs. Jeanne Garvey. The event was hosted by Campus Ministry and held in a question-and-answer fashion. Resident Minister Austin Nappi presented the questions as they rolled in.
Q: What is your favorite memory of your time here?
A: Garvey reminisces on their first freshman retreat and how amazed he was that students were actually eager to spend time with them! He has enjoyed getting to know students whether that be in his teaching or in sitting down to have a meal with them. Mrs. Garvey specifically points out the three service trips she has been on with students of CUA. She says that all of the students have “filled a part of our lives as our children.” She especially loved saying hello to the many students around campus with Gus, and now, Lola Garvey. “You’re my neighbors; you’re my friends,” she said.
Q: How has your faith transformed by being at the Catholic University?
A: Because all their kids had moved out, Garvey knew that living on “campus would be good for my soul.”
Having come from Boston, where the Catholic faith had a tendency to be hidden, Mrs. Garvey says that to be openly Catholic and share your faith with others has “been a wonderful experience.” To witness the reverence students hold for their faith on campus “gave me liberty to show my faith,” she says.
Garvey notes that the life of faith in DC is a great place to be a Catholic. The “lively, intelligent, Catholic intellectual life” of DC has allowed their faith to grow stronger.
Q: One thing you like about each other?
A: Mrs. Garvey says that she loves that “he is my biggest cheerleader.”
Garvey especially loves his wife’s honesty! He compares their family dynamic to the one he grew up with and says that “while his family didn’t talk about anything,” Jeanne is very much the one that keeps everyone in the loop. He says that Jeanne has “made me a much better person.”
The two noted that they are the opposites of each other and that’s why they “fit together like a puzzle” says Jeanne.
Q: What is your favorite virtue?
A: One that the President is currently working on is the “fear of the lord;” the virtue of denying oneself and surrendering to God. The virtue of humility is favored by Mrs Garveybecause selflessness is something that she has constantly worked on.
Q: What is one of your favorite memories with the senior class?
A: Garvey acknowledges the difficulties experienced by the senior class in regards to the pandemic. Because of a real estate crisis in the early 20th century, the university was very close to bankruptcy. He mentions this to categorize it with the tribulations brought by the pandemic, which has hindered a lot of what makes a college experience. When the university shut down in March of 2020, Garvey had to give the university’s employees a pay cut so as not to discharge them. Though this is not a favorite memory per se, according to Garvey, he apologizes on behalf of COVID-19 and acknowledges how proud he is of the senior class and of all who have faced the challenges of the pandemic.
Q: What is your advice to young Catholic couples on the key to having a successful marriage?
A: Garvey begins assertively and says “never give up.” Throughout their marriage, Jeanne has learned both “forgiveness” and “…good communication”are crucial. Garvey points out that, in today’s time, people are waiting too long for material success to kick in before marriage. If you’ve found your person, “go get married” he encourages.
Q: What is your advice to Dr. Kilpatrick as he takes on this new role?
A: Garvey’s advice to the new president is to “enjoy every minute of it, it’s the best!” He says Kilpatrick is “such a lucky guy,” being CUA’s President was the “best job he has ever had in his life.” Seven years ago, Garvey attempted to hire Dr. Kilpatrick to be the university’s provost. At the time, Kilpatrick was the Dean of Engineering for Notre Dame; Garvey flew to Notre Dame to persuade him to come to CUA. Though it didn’t work out this way, Garvey is excited for Kilpatrick’s term!
Q: One piece of advice to the students?
A: Mrs. Garvey advises to“be careful what your definition of success is.” People become fixated on material or career success and deem it fulfillment. It is in the relationships with family and friends where you find happiness. Garvey says that “people are drawn to people who are genuine.” He encourages students to have the confidence to be themselves.
Many laughs and heartfelt stories were shared as the students commemorated the Garveys’ tenure. The Garveys advise to only “keep doing what you’re doing” to keep their legacy of faith alive at CUA. They hope that in the future, the goodness of the campus will become more known for prospective students across the globe. This university has embodied spirit for the Garveys and they only hope this continues to flourish. Jeanne says triumphantly, “all of you have the spirit; I have the spirit; we have the spirit!”