Title:Our tradition calls us to do more

Author: Julia Farr (C’88, Parent’19, ’21, ’24), Executive Director, Georgetown University Alumni Association
Date Published: March 7, 2023

The launch of the Called to Be campaign provided the opportunity for Julia Farr, executive director of the Georgetown University Alumni Association (GUAA), and GUAA President Kelly Mulvoy Mangan to sit down with Bart Moore, vice president of Georgetown’s Office of Advancement, to discuss the university’s mission and priorities.

(Left to right) Kelly Mulvoy Mangan (SFS’91), R. Bartley Moore (SFS’87), and Julia Farr (C’88, Parent’19, ’21, ’24) in the library room of the Robert and Bernice Wagner Alumni House. Photo by: Phil Humnicky/Georgetown Univ.

Kelly: This campaign is Georgetown’s most ambitious following the Third Century and For Generations to Come campaigns. How was the name Called to Be selected?

Bart: President DeGioia often speaks extemporaneously about his ambition to ensure that Georgetown becomes the university that it is called to be. And the concept of calling is so resonant with our Catholic and Jesuit traditions, and the sense of mission and purpose that we have at Georgetown.

The Jesuit part of our tradition requires a certain, deliberate approach. We should never be too content with what we are or what we’re doing. The concept of magis calls us to do more, to be reflective and discerning and then active in pursuing more expansive and meaningful ways to fulfill our mission. So the name Called to Be invokes the traditions on which we were built and the foundation from which we draw all of our current strengths, while also focusing our attention on what we imagine for ourselves in the future.

Julie: The Called to Be campaign’s goal is $3 billion, twice the goal of For Generations to Come. Why is this the right time to put such an ambitious stake in the ground and what kind of impact will it have on the university’s future?

Bart: Well, I guess this is the right time because we think we’re ready to do it. We think our community will support it. We’ve demonstrated our capacity to respond to both challenge and opportunity, to grow as a university and magnify our impact. And we have a really compelling set of ambitions for what we’ll build and do with the benefit of this very significant investment of philanthropy.

The $3 billion is made up of scores and scores of discrete investments we want to make in people and programs all across the university, starting with financial aid for our undergraduate and graduate students. There’s no higher commitment at Georgetown than making the university affordable and accessible to all students who are admitted. We intend to raise at a minimum a half a billion dollars for student financial aid and scholarships.

But nothing happens—at any great university—without philanthropy. Great universities are built on the foundation and ongoing investment capital of great philanthropy, and we feel confident that we have good use and purpose for every penny of $3 billion dollars.

Kelly: When talking about the importance of philanthropy in a campaign of this size, how important is it that Georgetown’s alumni be involved? What kind of a difference can they make at any level of giving?

Bart: Alumni are the core of everything that we do in fundraising for Georgetown. Without them, we would not be or have the Georgetown that we all know today and that, frankly, I think we’re all so proud of. One of the things I’ve loved about being an alumnus is that every single year since I enrolled and graduated, regard for the university has grown in the public eye. Our reputation is a direct result of the quality of the students that we attract and enroll. And that’s because we work to make it affordable for the students we admit to choose Georgetown, regardless of their financial circumstances.

Every gift makes a difference and every donor has an impact. We receive thousands of gifts every year in individual amounts of two and three figures. Many of those gifts go to the George- town Fund, which benefits undergraduate financial aid. In total this year, individual gifts in amounts under $1000 are funding an incredible 400 undergraduate scholarships.

Nothing is possible without the willingness of alumni to make the university a priority in their philanthropy. Having said that, I want all of our hardworking and generous alumni to know we don’t stop there. Like most universities we are increasingly reaching out to foundations, corporations, and others. We now routinely talk with people with no prior affiliation with Georgetown, but we know, or think, they care about some- thing that we’re really good at here, like Parkinson’s research and care or degree completion for first-generation college goers. Campaigns depend first and mostly on alumni, but it’s not their job alone.

Julie: The campaign is capacious, with so many extraordinary ambitions to support. You mentioned some of those ambitions, but I wonder what you would answer if someone asked you where their giving would have the most impact?

Bart: When speaking to donors, I start by asking them to identify an important part of their Georgetown experience. If it was important to you, it’s very likely that it’s important to someone who’s here right now. And that department or program will benefit from your support.

If a prospective donor is completely open to suggestions though, I talk about scholarships. Our undergraduate meet-full-need commitment, which is now 45 years old, is even more important today given the rising cost of a college education. The truth is that more and more students need some help in affording Georgetown, or any university for that matter. Forty percent of our students receive university- funded financial aid. That would not be possible if it were not for the extraordinary level of donor support for financial aid in the last 15 years in particular.

Kelly: For this conversation, I found myself reflecting on what I am called to be. What are you called to be, Bart?

Bart: I love that question. We do hope that the name of the campaign will prompt every member of our community to pause and reflect on their calling. There’s no right answer to that question, but the Jesuit tradition reminds us to ask the question, continually, and to hold ourselves to meaningful standards.

I think I’m doing what I should be doing. I love this university. The total experience I’ve had here, both in my four years as a student and after, has given me things of more value and benefit than I could ever possibly repay. And I feel at least in a professional way right now that I’m called to be one of the cheerleaders for this extraordinary place. I believe it’s an extraordinary place to do the work of personal formation, no matter where you are in your life or career. I mean, it’s a great job. And I get to meet or re-meet nice people who love Georgetown. Julie, what are you called to be?

Julie: I believe that I’m called to be a bridge builder. I have the privilege of connecting our alumni together through meaningful experiences, and I have the opportunity to create pathways for them to come back to our alma mater for the mutual benefit of Georgetown and her alumni. Personally, that gives extraordinary meaning to my life. How about you, Kelly?

Kelly: I think a lot about my education and the values that I developed at Georgetown. They became central to my life while I was here and then I’ve expanded on them through the years. I try to take them into every aspect of my life: as a parent, school board leader, and president of the Alumni Association. I feel that I’m called to be a leader who makes the Alumni Association a home for everyone, a place that helps people feel connected to the university and to the experience that they had here as a student. •

Called to Be campaign logo

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