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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.


The printable program remains available for download.


Selected conference presentations are available by clicking the presenter name or session title in the schedule below, or on the appropriate pre-conference page. 





 Friday, January 31
  Continental Breakfast 8:00 - 9:00 AM  
  Pre-conference: Women Executive Leaders in Catholic Higher Education 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM  
  Pre-conference: Aspiring Presidents 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM  
  Institute for New Presidents of Catholic Colleges and Universities 8:00 AM - 7:30 PM  
  Break 10:00 - 10:30 AM  
  ACCU Board of Directors Executive Committee Meeting 11:00 AM - NOON  
  ACCU Board of Directors Luncheon Meeting NOON - 5:00 PM  
  Lunch Buffet NOON - 1:00 PM  
  Break 2:30 - 3:00 PM  
 Saturday, February 1
  Continental Breakfast 8:00 - 9:00 AM  
  Pre-conference: Chief Academic Officers 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM  
  Pre-conference: Mission Officers 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM  
  Pre-conference: Senior Student Affairs Officers 8:00 AM - 3:30 PM  
  Break 10:00 - 10:30 AM  
  Buffet Lunch NOON - 1:00 PM  
  International Members Session: How Our Catholic Identity Can Inform Innovation

This panel discussion, open to all registrants of the 2020 Annual Meeting, will bring senior administrators from domestic and international member institutions together to explore how Catholic institutions of higher learning innovate against a backdrop of tradition. Panelists will explore this concept in terms of industry engagement, the digital era, teaching and research, and globalization, with an eye to highlighting examples of innovation in practice in Catholic higher education.

Zlatko Skrbis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Innovation, Australian Catholic University

Isabel Capeloa Gil, Rector, Catholic University of Portugal, and President, International Federation of Catholic Universities

Sr. Anne Therese Falkenstein, SP, Special Assistant to the President and Trustee, Providence University, Taiwan

Rev. John Fitzgibbons, SJ, President, Regis University, Denver, CO

Moderator & Panelist: Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor & President, Australian Catholic University

 2:30 - 4:00 PM  

Annual Meeting Begins


Opening Liturgy

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

5:00 - 6:15 PM  

Opening Reception

6:15 - 7:15 PM  
  Presidents Reception 6:15 - 7:15 PM  
  Banquet and Awards Presentation 7:15 - 9:00 PM  
 Sunday, February 2
  Breakfast Buffet

7:30 - 8:30 AM

  Rome Seminar Information Session 7:30 - 8:30 AM  
  IFCU Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 AM  
  Iowa Catholic Colleges and Universities Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 AM  
  IACHE Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 AM  
  Presidential Spouses Breakfast 7:30 - 8:30 AM  
Morning Sessions

Welcome and Opening Prayer

Welcome:  Thomas Mengler, President, St. Mary's University, ACCU Board Chair

Opening Prayer:  Andrea Lee, IHM, President, Alverno College

8:45 - 9:00 AM  

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. 

Emcee: Dave Livingston, President, Lewis University

Rev. Joseph McShane, SJ, President, Fordham University

Kim Smolik, CEO, Leadership Roundtable

Arvid Johnson, President, University of St. Francis (IL)

9:00 - 10:15 AM  
Morning Concurrent Sessions  10:45 - 11:45 AM  

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?

Brooke Hempell, Senior Vice President of Research, Barna Group

Christel Manning, Professor of Theology, Sacred Heart University

Rev. Joseph McShane, SJ, President, Fordham University


Session B: Recovery and Reform of Our 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.

John DeGioia, President, Georgetown University

Kim Smolik, CEO, Leadership Roundtable

Julie Sullivan, President, University of St. Thomas (MN)


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?

John Cech, President, Carroll College

Arvid Johnson, President, University of Saint Francis (IL)

Therese Scanlan, President, Resurrection University


Real-World Solutions Sessions

10:45 - 11:45 AM  

Top Federal Grant Opportunities in 2020 for Small Catholic Colleges and Universities

This session will focus on upcoming federal grants that fund scholarships, faculty/student undergraduate research, curriculum development, and student support services that improve retention. Attendees will leave this presentation with a roadmap of the key federal grant funding opportunities that will be competed and awarded in 2020.

John McAllister, Managing Partner, McAllister & Quinn

Don Taylor, President, Cabrini University


Transforming a Small Catholic Division I University

In academic year 2017–18, Saint Francis University (SFU) became engaged in institutional transformation efforts. The deep and comprehensive changes have strengthened SFU's core as a liberal arts, Catholic, and Franciscan undergraduate university and have propelled the university forward in its identity as a comprehensive university. The accomplishments are the result of engaging not only faculty, administration, and staff in the transformation process, but also with The Registry for placement of both an Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs and an Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management. This session will tell the story of strategy, approaches, and issues faced in this transformation process, including initiatives to right-size, stabilize, and grow the institution and the strategic role of leadership.

Rev. Malachi Van Tassell, TOR, President, Saint Francis University

Karan Hinman Powell, Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Saint Francis University

  Course Exchange, Where Sharing Economy Meets Higher Education

Embracing shared economy trends, many higher education institutions with limited resources are applying a course exchange approach to enrich their course and program offerings. Course exchange allows institutions to seamlessly share courses, credits, and tuition, and increase retention while helping them expand their degree programs and access new enrollments and revenue with little to no upfront investment. Using the Higher Learning Course Exchange (the OCICU) as an example, this presentation will examine how a course exchange model benefits students and extends the mission of institutions.

Rev. John Fitzgibbons, President, Regis University


Thomas Gilhooly, Executive Director, Higher Learning Partners


Tex Brieger, Director of Distance Education, Gannon University


Samantha Brown, Higher Learning Partners


Adam Samhouri, Higher Learning Partner


Full-Spectrum Enrollment Strategy: Case Studies in Comprehensive Undergraduate and Adult-Learner Recruitment

Faith-based colleges and universities have long served a broad cross-section of America’s students — including many who would otherwise have slipped through the cracks. Our ability to do so has depended on the robust and reliable revenue streams growing undergraduate enrollment. Now that “flat is the new up” where traditional undergraduate populations are concerned, the question of how to secure the funding necessary to support our missions has become an urgent concern. One important answer lies in better understanding and serving adult learners. This population is at once large and complex — the latter fact explaining why it has remained a perpetual second order of business. This panel discussion will describe innovative strategies for identifying and recruiting adult learners in the context of a holistic and comprehensive approach that elevates recruitment of traditional undergraduate populations. 

Cyndi Wilson Porter, Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Services, University of the Incarnate Word

Vincent Porter, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, University of the Incarnate Word

Tom Willoughby, Senior Consultant, EAB Enrollment Services

William B. Lamb, Dean of Graduate and Adult Learner Recruitment, EAB Enrollment Services

Afternoon Sessions Lunch 11:45 AM - 12:30 PM  

Luncheon Plenary:  Religion in American Higher Education

How open are today’s campuses to religion in academic scholarship? In student life? This session will feature remarks from the co-author of a new book, The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education, which documents a surprising openness to religion in collegiate communities. The book challenges common assumptions about such subjects as the diversification of student religious life and institutional efforts to connect spirituality with scholarship.

Emcee: Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, President, ACCU

Kathleen MahoneySenior Program Officer, Global Development, GHR Foundation

12:30 - 1:15 PM  

Plenary III: 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.

Moderator: Sr. Maryanne Stevens, RSM, President, College of Saint Mary

Rev. James Martin, SJ, Editor at Large, America

1:30 - 2:30 PM  
Afternoon Concurrent Sessions  3:00 - 4:00 PM  

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.

Moderator: Kathleen Byrnes, Board Chair, ASACCU

John McPhee, Executive Director, JED Foundation

Diane Melby, President, Our Lady of the Lakes University

Robert Wicks, Professor (retired), Loyola University Maryland


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 education learn from the experience of Catholic healthcare institutions in governance and sponsorship?

Moderator:  Mary Finger, President, Seton Hill University

David Nygren, Principal, Nygren Consulting

Rev. Charles Bouchard, OP, Senior Director, Theology & Sponsorship, Catholic Health Association

Real-World Solutions Sessions  3:00 - 4:00 PM  

Trends for Mergers and Private System Affiliations

Higher education is entering an era in which consolidation of the market will take place. This consolidation will happen as a result of institutional closures, mergers, and private system affiliations. Navigating the future and finding prosperity in an era of change requires a deeper understanding of the macro trends shaping higher education. This session will outline alternatives for Catholic institutions to take advantage of opportunities to become part of, or to lead a private system affiliation. The discussion will also include affiliation trends and how to become affiliation-ready; a review of a successful affiliation strategy; preparing a buy or sell side strategy; introducing the topic to your board; exploring alternatives in a quiet setting; and aligning a merger or affiliation with long-term institutional prosperity.

Rick Beyer, Lead Consultant and Special Advisor to the President, AGB Consulting


Market Trends and Achieving Institutional Success

Higher education continues to persevere through a period of transformation. Market forces are driving colleges and universities to think differently about their approach and long-term strategy. In this session, the speaker will discuss the lay of the land and how yesterday’s tactics won’t work in today’s world. Learn how technology is changing the game and providing the opportunity to use data to compete more effectively.

Charles RamosVice President, Strategic Partnerships, Collegis Education


How Identifying the Barriers to Enrollment Growth Delivered Record-Breaking Numbers

A strong IT team can leverage technology to enhance business process and enable data-driven decision making. University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, has delivered three consecutive years of record-breaking fall enrollments at a time when many similar institutions are struggling to meet their goals. Several years ago, university leadership made a strong, multi-pronged commitment to their Vision 2030 plan and the results speak for themselves: enrollment that grows every year, an 80%+ retention rate, and a fundraising campaign that broke the $100 million mark ahead of schedule.

Mike Glubke, President and CEO, Dynamic Campus

Monsignor James P. Shea, President, University of Mary


Future-Proof Your Board – Modern Governance Practices for Catholic Higher Education

Trustees today face a wider array of challenges than at any other time – and nowhere is this more the case than on Catholic college and university boards. The list of new areas of risk seems endless: cyber attacks, campus violence, misconduct allegations, social media firestorms, and digital disruptions, to name a few. Now is the time when trustees need better tools, insights, and practices to help “future-proof” their boards. Join us for a thought-provoking panel discussion with Catholic higher education presidents and governance leaders who are implementing modern governance practices and tools. We’ll discuss new approaches to managing board communication; strategies to ensure all trustees are up to speed, regardless of their technological prowess; and practical approaches to building a more resilient board for the digital age. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the book Governance in the Digital Age: A Guide for the Modern Corporate Board Director.

Dottie Schindlinger, Vice President of Thought Leadership, Diligent Corporation


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.

Emcee:  Thomas Mengler, President, St. Mary's University, ACCU Board Chair

4:15 - 5:15 PM

  Evening Reception 5:30 - 6:30 PM  
 Monday, February 3
  Breakfast Buffet 7:45 - 8:45 AM  
  Graduate Student Seminar 7:45 - 8:45 AM  
  Diversity Officers Breakfast Meeting 7:45 - 8:45 AM  
  Presidents-only Breakfast Meeting 7:45  - 8:45 AM  
  Presidents-only Business Meeting
8:45 - 10:30 AM  
Concurrent Workshops The following workshops aim to provide attendees with practical approaches to tackle workplace challenges. 9:00 - 10:30 AM  

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.

Moderator: Julianne Wallace, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Alvernia University

Michael Lovett-Colyer, Assistant Vice President of University Ministry, University of San Diego

Kurt Schackmuth, Vice President for Mission and Interim Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Lewis University


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.

Moderator: Paula Moore, Vice President, External Affairs, ACCU

Michael Hemmesch, Senior Director of Public Relations, Saint John's University (MN)

Chris Duffy, Vice President, Public Relations, Goff Public


Presidential Spouses: Connecting with Today’s Students
Throughout the course of a campus presidency, the president’s spouse will interact with students at athletic events, social gatherings, and other occasions. Their unique position gives spouses an opportunity to connect to students in a way that faculty or other campus leaders cannot. But when students are struggling and in need of personal advice and guidance, what should a president’s spouse say? What can (and can’t) they say, as a matter of legal or institutional policy? Join this robust discussion, where you can learn from and meet other spouses and have your questions answered.

Lisa Kirkpatrick, Vice President for Student Affairs, St. Edward's University 


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.

Greg Craven, Vice-Chancellor, Australian Catholic University

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

Isabel Capeloa Gil, President, International Federation of Catholic Universities

11:00 AM - NOON  
  Conference ends Noon