Career Center renamed after GU alumnus and co-founder of MBNA

Last Saturday, the name of Georgetown’s career center officially changed to the Charles M. Cawley Career Education Center. Who the franc is that, you ask? Well just you wait, dear readers, because you’re about to find out!

Cawley (COL ’62) is a longtime (50 years longtime) donor to the University who also funds and supports several scholarship programs, including the Baker Scholars Program. He co-founded MBNA, which provided the funds to create the career center in 1994 as well as Sellinger Lounge in the Leavey Center.

I know what you’re thinking, but MBNA is not the Monument Builders of North America.

MBNA Corporation is a bank holding company (acquired by Bank of America in 2006) that became the third largest independent issuer of credit cards as well as the number one issuer of affinity cards, which donate a small percentage of the money spent on a credit card to a charity organization. MBNA was also the largest political donor to the George W. Bush 2000 campaign, after Enron.

The idea for affinity cards started when Cawley approached Georgetown’s Alumni Association in 1983. He persuaded the group to sponsor and endorse a credit card that would be offered exclusively to its members. These Georgetown alumni cardholders “tended to carry a sizable balance and roll it over from month to month, incurring interest charges. That made them ideal customers for a credit card company,” the New York Times reported in 2004.

Cawley, retired since 2003, did not have an entirely flawless record as CEO of MBNA. He built his empire “by catering to the national addiction to credit” while simultaneously spending large sums of money on questionable pursuits.  “Over the years, MBNA accumulated a fleet of airplanes, helicopters, yachts and expensive cars, as well as a $65 million art collection,” according to the NYTimes article.

As a Hoya graduate, however, his list of contributions is seemingly endless. Not only was Cawley integral to funding the career center and Sellinger Lounge, he also oversaw philanthropic donations that created the Royden B. Davis, S.J., Performing Arts Center and Career Education Center.

“This [career] center, and the opportunities it has created for our community, reflects the very best of what Charlie brings to Georgetown,” GU President John J. DeGioia said in a statement. “It will continue to play a vital role in enabling our students to successfully transition to life beyond the Hilltop.” According Georgetown’s announcement on the renaming of the center, almost 100 Georgetown students have worked for MBNA after graduating.

Photo: The Guardian

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