Christendom College launched its 40th anniversary year with a new record enrollment, raising the total student body to 494 students. College president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell made the announcement on August 20 during his opening of the academic year address to the student body, encouraging them to strive for greatness during this upcoming year.
“As a noble warrior on the field of battle, [Jesus] beckons you to stand with Him and to dare to be great,” said O’Donnell. “You can be great if you do that through Him, with Him, and in Him. Let us strive to do that, and if we do that, together we can have a great year as we begin, yet again, to restore all things in Christ.”
The student body of 494 includes 155 new students, including transfers, re-admitted students, and first-time freshmen. With the new growth and increasing retention rates, the college grew in enrollment numbers by 3.6% this year — well above the national average for institutions of higher education. Since 2012, the college has grown by 27%, all at a time when most colleges are seeing a decline in their enrollments.
This year’s freshmen class comes from 34 U.S. states, as well as from Canada, Ireland and England. 69% of the Class of 2021 previously attended the Experience Christendom Summer Program, while 43% of the freshmen are siblings of former or current students.
“Year after year, we’re astounded at the record-breaking number of students coming to Christendom,” said director of admissions Sam Phillips. “While other colleges are struggling to fill their classrooms, we are able to recruit the brightest and the best – with this year’s class having the highest average SAT score (1240) in over a decade. This burning desire to become a part of Christendom is a testament to our exceptional liberal arts education and to the popularity of our vibrant Catholic culture and academic community.”
Before his address, O’Donnell and the rest of the college community welcomed the Diocese of Arlington’s new Bishop Michael Burbidge to campus for his first official visit. Bishop Burbidge celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit in Christ the King Chapel, officially launching the new academic year. He expressed admiration for Christendom in his homily, saying that he has long admired the college from afar, and is excited about being assigned to the Diocese of Arlington because Christendom exists within it.
Following Mass, the college community processed to the new St. Clare’s women’s residence hall, where Bishop Burbidge blessed the new building. The residence hall, which officially opened for occupancy during Orientation Weekend, is the first new residence hall built on campus since 2000.
Further improvements were made to other areas around campus during the summer, including: a new biology and physics lab on the first floor of St. Columba men’s residence hall; a new porch for St. Edmund Campion women’s residence hall; and general renovations to St. Benedict and St. Dominic’s residence halls. All of the residence halls were also equipped with reader access cards to increase security on campus.
O’Donnell laid out the details of the campus improvements during his address, where he also announced the variety of exciting events coming to Christendom during the 40th anniversary, including a special academic convocation and fireworks spectacular in September, and famed intellectuals Fr. Robert Spitzer, Dr. Janet Smith, and Dr. Anthony Esolen for the college’s Major Speakers series.
Over the summer, a number of administrative changes were made at the college as well. Matthew Marcolini (’15) joined the college as the new director of career development, Clair Jerge as the special events manager, Tim Judge, Christa McMahon, Timothy Cook (’16), and Alexandra Skuba (’16) as the dean of students, director of residence life, and residence directors respectively, and Fr. Marcus Pollard was assigned to the college as its new chaplain. Amanda Graf was announced as the new director of student affairs, and Marilyn Charba was promoted to director of student activities.
The college also hired two new faculty members. In the department of mathematics and natural science, professor Douglas Dailey, and, in the department of political science and economics, professor Kevin Burns.
The college looks forward to having a number of significant 40th anniversary celebrations, both on campus and around the country, with the 40th Anniversary Gala being held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 2018, where Francis Cardinal Arinze will serve as Honorary Chairman, while Senator and Mrs. Rick Santorum will act as Chairmen of the Dinner Committee.