A popular campus hangout of yesteryear — the Rathskellar pub in the basement of Cardinal Hall — will become the site of a new gathering place for old friends: the new alumni relations office on campus. That goal and the larger overall renovation of the grand and historic Cardinal Hall was brought closer in September when the university received a generous gift of $2.5 million from Jerry Feik of Washington, D.C.
Cardinal Hall is the former University Center and has also been known as Graduate Hall and the Social Center; it became vacant after the completion of the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. The total needed to renovate Cardinal Hall is $20 million. Feik’s gift brings the amount raised thus far to $8 million.
The renovated building will not only house the Office of Alumni Relations. It will also be the site of the university’s new enrollment management center, providing all prospective students an introduction to the myriad opportunities at CUA. It will house the offices of admissions, financial aid, housing, registrar and student accounts. Every student who enters the life of CUA will do so through this building.
“The new Cardinal Hall will provide dramatically improved service and convenience for students,” says Bob Sullivan, vice president of university development. “It will create an impressive first encounter and communicate to students that CUA understands their needs by making matters such as enrollment, bill payment and registration for classes easy. Currently, these services are located in a variety of buildings on campus.”
And beauty will not be forgotten: Cardinal Hall’s majestic Gothic tracery windows and ornately paneled ceiling will be preserved in the new Great Room of the building.
In 1994, Feik, an insurance executive with Allstate, first set up the Mary J. Feik Scholarship Fund in memory of his beloved mother, and he has added to the fund over the years so that it is now worth approximately $1.6 million. The scholarship fund provides financial assistance to students who might otherwise be unable to attend Catholic University.
“To me, if you don’t give of what the Lord gave you, life is not worth living,” Feik says. “Before I got involved with CUA, I wanted to save enough money to take care of my mother. When she passed away at the age of 98, I had to find a new purpose. I felt that giving my money to Catholic University is the best way to promote Catholicism. If someone is educated, I think they do a much better job as a Catholic.”
He explains a secondary benefit of his giving: “As an investor, you want to see your assets appreciate, or increase in value over time. However, if you wish to realize the benefit of that appreciation by selling such assets at their increased value, you will be subject to a capital gains tax. Donating appreciated securities to a charity such as CUA has enabled me to avoid capital gains taxes. It’s also comforting to me that the university, as a tax-exempt entity, gets the benefit of the full amount, rather than a portion going to the government.”
Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., president of the university, warmly acknowledged Feik’s generosity: “Jerry Feik is a living example of the scriptural passage that says, ‘God loves a joyful giver.’ Jerry is always giving of himself and of his resources — and always doing so with a smile. The Catholic University community, especially our students, continues to benefit greatly from Jerry’s abundant generosity.”
University officials are eager to raise the remaining $12 million needed to modernize Cardinal Hall, which was built in 1914. After the renovation of the former Keane Hall (now McGivney Hall) is concluded in summer 2008, Cardinal Hall will be the only vacant building remaining on the main campus.
“It’s imperative that we bring this majestic building — the gateway to the university as it faces Michigan Avenue — back online,” says Father O’Connell. “We have been quietly soliciting large donations for Cardinal Hall but we need so many more to make this dream a reality at CUA.”
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