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2020 Annual Meeting Schedule

At a time when both higher education and the Church are under pressure, Catholic higher education continues to serve its broad communities with innovation and agility. Building upon the legacy of their founding congregations, today’s Catholic colleges and universities are adapting to new realities, working with Church leadership, and finding inspired ways to sustain their mission. Join us in 2020 as we explore how Catholic higher education — at this critical moment in history — is meeting the needs of students, the Church, and the world.





Preliminary Schedule

Friday, January 31:

Pre-conference: Women Executive Leaders in Catholic Higher Education

Pre-conference: Aspiring Presidents

Pre-conference: Institute for New Presidents of Catholic Colleges and Universities


Saturday, February 1:

Pre-conference: Chief Academic Officers

Pre-conference: Mission Officers

Pre-conference: Senior Student Affairs Officers

Opening Liturgy

Presider and Homilist:  Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, IL

Opening Reception

Banquet and Awards Presentation (7:15  - 9:00 PM)


Sunday, February 2:

Morning Sessions:

Opening Plenary: How Catholic Higher Education Must Adapt to Continue Its Mission

Presented in the style of TED Talks, this session will feature thought leaders sharing their take on three urgent issues facing Catholic higher education: adapting to the changing nature of students, restoring trust in the Church, and finding financially viable ways to continue educating students and advancing Catholic identity and university mission. 

Speakers:    Rev. Joseph McShane, SJ, President, Fordham University

Kim Smolik, Executive Director, Leadership Roundtable

Arvid Johnson, President, University of St. Francis

Concurrent Session A: Deftly Adapting to the Shifting Nature of Learners

Generation Z has officially entered our campuses. They are ethnically diverse, gender neutral, digital natives, tech reliant, accustomed to getting information and answers on demand — and they are the least religious generation that higher education has ever seen. Are we ready for them?

Concurrent Session B: Recovery and Reform for the Church

Restoring Catholics’ trust in the Church is a daunting challenge that requires efforts by both the clergy and the laity. Working together with bishops, the leaders of Catholic colleges and universities can help mend the cracks in that trust and ensure a better future for those of faith.

Concurrent Session C: Finding Fiscal Stability in Today's Environment

Demographic and socioeconomic forces pose a major threat to the existence of many colleges and universities. For Catholic colleges and universities, being “catholic” may no longer hold as much appeal for students looking to enroll. What can Catholic higher education do to reverse the financial distress that threatens its survival and mission?

Afternoon Sessions:

Plenary II: Wonderfully Made:  Ministering to All on Our Campuses

Fr. James Martin, author of Building a Bridge: How the Catholic Church and the LGBT Community Can Enter into a Relationship of Respect, Compassion and Sensitivity, will offer his thoughts on how Catholic colleges and universities can welcome and reach out to LGBT individuals on our campuses.

Speaker:  Fr. James Martin, SJ, Editor at Large, America

Concurrent Session D: Fostering Mental Wellness on Our Campuses

The mental health of students is gaining ground as the number one challenge in higher education. Studies by the American Psychological Association and the National Mental Health Alliance confirm the fears of many university leaders. This session will examine how Catholic colleges and universities can best respond to the mental health struggles of students and ground their response within mission.

Concurrent Session E:  Emerging Models of Sponsorship and Governance for University Mission

What are the distinct roles of trustees, religious sponsors and mission committees at Catholic colleges and universities? What might Catholic higher ed learn from the experience of Catholic healthcare institutions in governance and sponsorship?

Speaker:  David Nygren, Principal, Nygren Consulting

Plenary III: Town Hall with Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM

ACCU president Fr. Dennis Holtschneider will share his vision for the association and engage with members to gather their reactions and feedback in a town hall setting.


Monday, February 3:

Concurrent Workshops: The following two workshops aim to provide attendees practical approaches to help them tackle some workplace challenges.

Concurrent Session F: Hiring for Mission

Join colleagues to learn how Catholic colleges and universities have refined their processes and strategies in hiring faculty and staff who understand, live, and promote institutional mission.

Concurrent Session G: Leading Through Crisis

Learn more about the current state of the media industry and come away with a better understanding of the common narratives that are affecting higher education. Attendees will also explore best practices in crisis communications and tips for campus leaders on how to successfully manage a public crisis.

Speakers:     Michael Hemmesch, Senior Director of Public Relations, Saint John’s University (MN)

 Chris Duffy, Vice President of Public Relations, Goff Public

Closing Plenary: Developing a Worldwide Catholic Higher Education Network

The session will highlight the contributions of Catholic higher education worldwide, primarily through social initiatives. Panelists will then outline the advantages of developing a global network of Catholic colleges and universities that could provide distinctive, invaluable experiences for students in all corners of the world. Come and hear how this effort could help build Catholic institutions’ market advantage — and be leveraged to attract more students to our campuses.

Speakers:    Greg Cravens, Vice-Chancellor, Australian Catholic University

Rev. Michael Garanzini, SJ, President, International Association of Jesuit Universities