Giving Back to Georgetown

June 18, 2012—During Reunion Weekend 2012, the university’s career center was officially renamed the Cawley Career Education Center in honor of Charles M. Cawley (C’62), an alumnus who has for the last 50 years “made deep and enduring contributions to our Georgetown community,” said University President John J. DeGioia.

Since 1994, the career center has helped students and alumni explore their professional options. Its founding was made possible by a two-million dollar gift from MBNA America Bank, for which Cawley was, at the time, chairman and CEO.

“Charlie created a company like no other. He brought together people who embraced his vision to expect and accept nothing short of the best in everything they did,” said Jane Hopkins Carey, first director of the MBNA Career Education Center, as it was then called. “The career center speaks to one of Charlie’s real passions: building connections between people—in this case, [between] Georgetown students and Georgetown alumni.”

Cawley was born in 1940 in Beverly, Massachusetts. Spending his formative years in New Jersey, he developed an interest in automobiles and writing, two hobbies he enjoys to this day. His passions in history and politics led him to major in government at Georgetown.

In his first year on the Hilltop, Cawley grappled with personal tragedy when his father, Charles Michael Cawley, passed away unexpectedly. The young Cawley, however, was able to persevere, thanks in large part to bonds he had begun to form on the Hilltop.

Some of these bonds were founded in his early involvement in the Chimes, Georgetown’s oldest male a cappella group. The camaraderie and performance that came with membership gave him a sense of belonging.

“His association with the Chimes was important and long lasting,” said Maureen Cawley Rhodes (C’88), Cawley’s daughter. “He introduced me and Michael [Cawley III (C’86)] to Georgetown by bringing us to The Tombs for many Chimes Nights.”

In his junior year, Cawley formed an even greater bond with Julie Murphy, a young woman who attended nearby Dumbarton College (which has since closed). Murphy and Cawley fell in love and were married three years later.

Friendship—its formation, joy, and importance in life—was a common theme in Cawley’s recollection of his time at Georgetown. He had an especially meaningful connection with Gerard F. Yates, S.J., who taught classics, history, and political science and also promoted extracurricular activities like the Gold Key Society, the glee club, and the Chimes. Father Yates provided thoughtful advice and mentorship to Cawley.

Cawley recognized that Father Yates and other leaders within the Georgetown community took a genuine interest in students’ education. This observation led Cawley to support the Baker Scholars Program as a mentor, trustee, and longtime donor.

Established in 1973, the College’s Baker Scholars Program aims to cultivate corporate leaders while fostering a dedication to social justice and community involvement. Through mentorship and activities, scholars explore many facets of the business world. Cawley was drawn to the philosophy of the program because of the “great friendships,” said Rhodes, that he formed with several Jesuits—from Royden Davis, S.J., who introduced Cawley to the program, to Joseph Sellinger, S.J., a former College dean who mentored Cawley.

“Dad developed a strong belief in the value of a broad liberal arts education,” Rhodes said. “Over the years he has assisted many young people who had the potential, but not the means, to gain an education.”

Cawley also has words of wisdom not just for Baker scholars but for all young ambitious Hoyas.

“Get a broad education with as many real world and work experiences as possible,” Rhodes said, speaking on behalf of her father. “Don’t limit yourself to those areas in which you are comfortable. Try things that stretch your comfort zone, that you aren’t sure you can do.

“Doing this,” she said, “may lead you to a career as much as, if not more than, your major.”

—Brittany Coombs