Marymount University President Matthew D. Shank offered the Boys Nation Class of 2014 nearly $1 million in scholarships – $10,000 for each of the 98 senators – if they applied and were accepted to the university.
Shank made his offer after Boys Nation President Matthew Ellow and Vice President Louis Lombardo were inaugurated during the July 23 ceremony. The oath of office was administered by Joe Bishop, senate and party counselor for Boys Nation.
Introducing Shank as guest speaker, Past National Commander Bob Turner noted that Boys Nation was celebrating its 29th year at Marymount "and there's one person that we kind of look up to because he has to sign off on everything ... and that's the president of Marymount University."
Turner told the senators he wasn't sure if Shank was "going to announce this morning that he's going to give you (each) a $5,000 scholarship if you come back to school here, but it would be nice."
Shank then took the stage and said, "I will make that commitment right now. Anybody that would like to come to Marymount, you all are such outstanding people to be in this program, I'll go $10,000."
The reason why he was so quick to make such an offer, Shank said, is because he is so impressed by the Boys Nation program. "It is outstanding and, of course, we've hosted it for 29 years and we want to host it for another 50 years, well after I'm gone and well after you all are successful in whatever endeavors you choose to be in. We very much consider ourselves a family when we talk about Marymount, and you're very much part of that family. So I hope you've been treated well ... please consider yourself part of Marymount now and forever, whether you go to school here or not."
Shank said that several Boys Nation alumni have attended Marymount, which has about 3,700 students, and the last one to do so became president of the university's Student Government Association. "We have had some successes out of this program, but I know you all will be successful wherever you go," Shank said.
Shank answered a few questions from the senators. Graye Miller of Canton, Ohio, asked what Marymount "brings to the table" compared with other universities in the Washington area. Shank replied that the university is the only Catholic-based school in the Commonwealth of Virginia "and so faith is very much part of what we do. And before you say, ‘Wait, I'm not Catholic – I can't come to Marymount,' there's only about 15 percent of the students that are Catholic. We have students here from every denomination, so one of the differentiators is the fact that we're a faith-based institution."
Shank also pointed to a strong liberal arts core curriculum as an important distinction, as well as the school's location that is just a few minutes away from the nation's capital.
Joseph Walker from Anchorage, Ala., asked, "How much does it cost to eat here?"
Shank chuckled and said, "That's a great question." He said the school's undergraduate tuition rate is currently about $27,000 per academic year. "You might say that's a lot, but for a private institution, actually, we're at the lower tier in terms of the amount that we charge. Room and board is about $12,000 a year."
Shank asked the senators if they liked the food here, and he received affirmative shouts and a round of applause. He joked that he "does the desserts."
Stephen Patrick of Charlotte, N.C., asked Shank about security at the campus, especially since it is right across the Potomac River from Washington.
"We pride ourselves on security, as any university would," he said. "We have a very safe campus." He mentioned that special protection is afforded when high-profile people visit the campus or enroll as students. For example, first lady Michelle Obama brought her two daughters to basketball camp last year and the year before two women graduated who were the granddaughters of the King of Saudi Arabia.
"There's only one way in and out, and it's not a large campus, so it's easy to secure the grounds," Shank said. "But during the normal school year, we don't have any special security needs."
Ian Descamps from Missoula, Mont., asked what traits should be found in "a quality professor."
Shank said that every professor is bound to have "a lot of content knowledge" about their fields of expertise. "But what I look for, beyond that," he said, "is do they have the right character? Do they care about the same things that we care about at Marymount? Do they have the same values? Again, they don't have to be Catholic, but they have to understand they're entering into a Catholic university. So they have to understand what we value, like respect for the dignity of all. Everybody in this room would have that same value. So we look for the intangibles."
Shank thanked the senators and then received a special Boys Nation pin and shirt. Afterward, the senators left to join their committees and consider legislation they will be introducing into the senate over the next few days.