The Insider’s Insider Lunches
CAROL JOYNT speaks with Georgetown University President JOHN DEGOIA
Out of the ashes of 9/11, Nathans owner
Carol Joynt began hosting monthly
neighborhood luncheons at her
Georgetown restaurant. The lunches feature a
Q&A with the city’s best known leaders, speaking
candidly in an intimate atmosphere. Joynt’s power
lunches have grown to become the ultimate insiders’ insider lunch, with guests such as Tom
Brokaw, Dan Snyder, Tim Russert, Leslie
Cockburn and Fred Smith.
WL is proud to annouce that Joynt, a former
producer for Larry King, will be a regular contributor,
bringing you the best of her Nathans
Community lunches. Here are the highlights of a
recent lunch with John DeGoia. To inquire about
invitations go to www.Nathanslunch.com.
Carol Joynt: Larry Summers, president of Harvard,
recently made a controversial statement about
whether women have the brains for science. Professor
Ward Churchill of the University of Colorado published
an article blaming America for September 11 and calling
the victims of the attacks “little Eichmanns.” This
prompted an outcry by many who argued that Summers
and Churchill should not be allowed to speak, and most
certainly should not be paid for speaking tours. Is free
speech over at American universities?
John DeGoia: No. At Georgetown we have a very
explicit policy on speech and expression that we
implemented in the late 1980s. Some felt we might
limit speech by virtue of [our] religious tradition.
But the fact is that we must ensure the widest possible
exchange of ideas and opinions so that no one
is prohibited from speaking at Georgetown [because
of] the content or view that they may express.
CJ: But if you had a professor on staff like Ward
JD: Would he have been permitted to speak at
Georgetown University if a member of our community
had invited him? Yes, he would have. And
we would have defended that right.
CJ: The college admissions process is a mystery
to many, especially those parents whose kids are white,
middle class, in private school and making good grades.
What are universities looking for these days?
JD: When I applied to Georgetown in 1975, we
had 5,000 candidates for admission, and about
half got in. Today Georgetown is roughly the
same size but we have approximately 16,000
candidates for admission and only 21% get in.
The accepted students are in the top 4 percent of
their class, with average SAT scores 700/700. We
could easily fill the school three times with virtually
identical student bodies. More valedictorians
are not admitted than are admitted.
CJ: Does legacy mean anything anymore?
JD: It does, at a private institution. Our admit rate
right now for our student body is at 21 percent
and for the legacy children it’s about 40 percent.
CJ: So what makes the biggest difference for a
student to be accepted?
JD: Let’s assume the brilliance criteria are equal.
Then I think we look for a balance of leadership,
community service and maturity.
CJ: Community service matters?
JD: It’s a marker for a certain kind of character,
and it is very important. How you’re regarded
within your school is [also] very important.
We’ll have 75 applicants from Andover, and we
can’t accept 75 students from Andover.
CJ: So if you’re at Andover, in your junior year
you should leave and go to the local public high
school back in Illinois for your senior year and
JD: No, it would have been better to have
stayed in Illinois in the first place, do exceptionally
well and really distinguish yourself as a
leader in that community.
CJ: That’s a frightening thing to hear, especially in
a concentrated community like Washington. So if you
were sending your son to college, what advice would
JD: What I encourage young people to do is go
and look at these places and spend a little time
there. My old boss Tim Healy used to joke to
freshman when they’d arrive, “Enjoy your first
degree, [because] you’ll earn your living on your
second degree.” And the thing is, at 18, you come
to college as a dependent child, and for the most
part, at 22 you are independent when you leave.
Something happens between 18 and 22 that
enables you to make that transition, and we believe
it’s living with some really tough questions: What
do I want my life to stand for? What kind of
responsibilities do I have to my family, to my community,
to my church, my mosque, my synagogue?
What kind of career do I want to have, and how
do I want to balance that with a family? In those
years you join a college community, and you live
with people who you’re really connected with for
the rest of your life.