Image Courtesy of Zachary Lichter
By Zachary Lichter
On Monday, March 20, 2023, the Catholic University of America (CUA) community celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Edward J. Pryzbla Center, or as students call it, “The Pryz.”
Home to dozens of clubs, administration, and more, the Pryz is named after Edward J. Pryzbla, a 1925 CUA graduate and major donor, who died seven months after the Pryz was built in 2003. The building was dedicated by Bishop David M. O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, during his tenure as president of CUA.
Many events have occurred in the Pryz since its inception. On March 18, 2004, CUA hosted the Republican National Committee debate between CUA alumnus Ed Gillespie and Terry McAuliffe, which was moderated by American Broadcast Network’s news anchor, George Stephanopoulos. It hosted the Opus Prize, a faith-based humanitarian award, in 2007 and 2022. When the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI visited the Pryz on April 17, 2008, the popemobile dropped him off near the back entrance of the building. Journalist and author, Mo Rocca and actor, B.J. Novak have both given talks in the Pryz. Bands such as Carbon Leaf and Virginia Coalition have performed in the building. The Great Room in the Pryz has hosted numerous student events, including the popular CUA on Tap.
Currently, the Pryz is one of the most popular spots for students to hang out on campus. It was formerly home to the main dining hall, from 2003 until Garvey Hall opened in December 2022. It also houses the Pryz Food Court, where students, faculty, and staff can grab a meal from Chick-fil-A, True Burger, or Which Wich, along with other food options such as Starbucks and Murphy’s Grill. A convenience store is located downstairs called The Pryz Market, also known as “The Pod.” Many clubs, including the Tower Student Newspaper, have their meetings in the Pryz. The Pryz is also where the information center is located on campus.
The 20th anniversary celebration began at 4:30 p.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m. on the University Lawn. WCUA, the campus radio station, provided the music. There were hors d’oeuvres, desserts, popcorn, cotton candy machines, and even bounce houses to mark the celebratory event. Dr. Judi Biggs Garbuio, vice president of student affairs at CUA emceed the event. She talked about the history of the Pryz and did the ceremonial cutting of a birthday cake that was made for the 20th anniversary. Father Aquinas Guilbeau, the University Chaplain and director of Campus Ministry blessed the Pryz. The Washingtones, a CUA acapella group, sang “Happy Birthday.”
Dr. Judi Biggs Garbuio, commented on why she loves the Pryz.
“I love the fact that it’s a gathering place for all of the students and it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re welcome in that building and you can stay as long as you want,” Garbuio said. “It gives a place for students to hang out, grab a cup of coffee, grab something to eat, study, and participate in all different kinds of events.”
As far as the Pryz’s future is concerned, the old dining hall will be replaced with a study space called the Nest. It will also be a place where some of the school clubs will meet. The Nest will be opening in Summer 2023. The mailroom and Barnes and Noble will be moved to where the Pod and Disability Support Services are currently located. It is expected to be opened by Fall 2024.
Junior chemistry major, Benjamin Iannuzzi, commented on what he loves about the Pryz and his excitement for the Pryz’s future.
“I enjoy seeing all my friends gathered in one place,” Iannuzzi said. “I enjoy going into Starbucks and I enjoy seeing all of my favorite Pryz workers like Ms. Nalene. I am also excited for the new renovations of the Pryz. As a member of the e-board for Habitat for Humanity, I’m very excited to have a new space to do work for our organization and collaborate with other organizations as well.”