Jeanne Garvey chats with a student over coffee

In fall 2010 the Garveys went to a field hockey game, where John spotted a group from the men’s basketball team sitting in the stands. He wanted to join them. 

“They aren’t going to want to sit with us! Let’s not spoil their fun,” Jeanne recalls telling him. “But John insisted. They talked to us throughout the whole game.”

That was more than 11 years ago, and looking back, Jeanne marvels at what the students at Catholic University have meant to her — and what she has meant to them. 

“At first, I worried about being absorbed into John’s job, about losing my identity,” she admits. “People would ask for a photo with John and hand me the camera. It was hard at first, but I’ve grown into my role here to the point of feeling like this is my calling at this time in our lives.” 

Jeanne has a master’s degree in education from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from Stanford University. She has held several positions in higher education administration at the University of Kentucky, Indiana University in South Bend, and Boston College, where she was the director of career services for the M.B.A. program at the Carroll School of Management. Among her business administration positions, she was the director of the Small Business Administration for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the director of marketing for a catalog company. 

“My career has always been important to me. I’ve been lucky in my ability to work in flexible situations while raising a family,” she says.

With no official title, but as someone who wears many hats, Jeanne has become invaluable to University life. “She’s funny and real. She has so many gifts, but doesn’t mind sharing her imperfections and that’s why students gravitate to her,” says Emmjolee Mendoza Waters, director of community engagement, social justice, and Catholic social teaching initiatives.

“I’m a mom. We’ve gone through the teenage years five times. There’s nothing I haven’t seen,” says Jeanne. “I can spot a student who is homesick or who is anxious about midterms, and it comes naturally to me to lend a sympathetic ear or a reassuring hug.”

The Garveys attend the freshmen retreat each fall where they talk about marriage, including the ups and downs.

“This has been a special time for our marriage,” says Jeanne. “[Before] we were working and dividing up the household chores and the kids’ activities, often without time to look at one another. Here, John’s job is 24/7, but living and working in [Nugent Hall] has made such a difference. We are able to have lunch together and attend Mass together in the morning. We feel we are both dedicated to the same job, and that’s been bonding.

Jeanne is regularly invited by student groups and RAs in the women’s residence halls to talk to students about her life experience, including her faith. 

“When I was an RA in Opus Hall, I invited Mrs. Garvey to talk to the girls,” says Schola Eburuoh, B.S.Arch. 2021. “I got to know her by working in Nugent as a member of the President’s Society. She’s so approachable and reassuring. I wanted more students to experience that. She came and talked about how she’s had to pivot in her life and the lessons she’s learned along the way. It felt like a conversation with a friend. The night ended with popsicles. It was a very happy beginning to the semester.”

“Jeanne has an amazing rapport with students,” says John. “She’s so easy to talk to and so honest. She always seems to know the right thing to say, or to simply listen. She has been a tremendous gift to the University.”