The Catholic University of America

Alumni Relations

History of the Craves Family Alumni Center

Left to Right: Thomas Zoeller, B.A. 1984, Alumni Association President; Gerri Craves, Robert E. Craves, B.A. 1965; President John Garvey; University Chancellor, Donald Cardinal Wuerl, B.A. 1962, M.A. 1963, at the Craves Family Alumni Center dedication ceremony.

Father O’Connell Hall

Father O’Connell Hall is named in honor of former University President (1998-2010) and alumnus, Bishop David M. O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton. The building has been known by many names throughout its existence including University Center and Cardinal Hall South. However, it is most remembered as the student center and south dining hall until 2003. Most alumni fondly remember Father O’Connell Hall as the home of the Rathskellar. Currently, it is the home of Housing Services and the Office of Alumni Relations.

The Rathskellar a.k.a. “The Rat” Years

CUA students at the opening of the Rathskellar a.k.a “The Rat” in October 1968.

“After several months of discussion, planning, and preparation, the Rathskellar officially opened October 10, 1968” (The Cardinal  1969). Known for its “rustic” look – with heavy, wooden tables that students carved their names into and numerous beer taps, the Rathskeller was the on-campus hangout for many students throughout the years.

Franklin the bartender posing for a picture at “The Rat.”

A staple of the Rathskellar, or more affectionately “The Rat,” was Franklin, the bartender. “When I was a student in the early ‘70s, The Rat was much like Cheers of TV sitcom fame. While maybe everyone didn’t know your name, you always knew that you would be greeted by the friendly smile of Franklin the bartender. Franklin was loved by everyone on campus. He was truly a good-will ambassador and one of the reasons that many of us visited The Rat,” says Frank Persico, B.A. 1974, M.A. 1976, Vice President for University Relations and Chief of Staff. The Rat was redecorated many times to accommodate the change in times, but that same old spirit was felt among students and alumni alike. In the early 2000s, the Rat poured its last beer.

Craves Family Alumni Center

On the patio level of Father O’Connell Hall is the Craves Family Alumni Center. It is named in honor of Robert E. Craves, B.A. 1965, and his wife, Gerri, for their very generous gift to CUA. Robert E. Craves was one of the co-founders of Costco Wholesale, an alumnus, and a former University Trustee. He was also the co-founder of the College Success Foundation, which helps thousands of students finance their college education. The alumni center was dedicated on April 13, 2012, and is home to the Office of Alumni Relations. All alumni are encouraged to stop by while they are on campus.

Hours of Operation

Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Father O’Connell Hall, 620 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20064

The Catholic University of America

620 Michigan Ave., N.E. • Washington, D.C. 20064
800-288-ALUM (2586) •