Vision and Voice for Catholic Higher Education      Learn More

2021 Annual Meeting Schedule

The devastating twin experiences of pandemic and racial divide call upon society to rise to the challenge. They have shown our institutions' fragility but also our resilience. Meeting this challenge calls for extraordinary leadership. For the first time, ACCU will gather senior leaders in Catholic higher education from around the world together in a virtual platform to discuss what most matters in our sector, to consider how to strengthen our institutions going forward, and to reflect on how we should adjust to meet the world's most pressing needs.  


Schedule — All times are listed in Eastern (U.S.) time.


  Tuesday, February 2 — PRE-CONFERENCE EVENT

   Women Executive Leaders in Catholic Higher Education

3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
  Wednesday, February 3 — PRE-CONFERENCE EVENT

   Aspiring Presidents

1:00 - 2:30 p.m.  
  Thursday, February 4 — PRE-CONFERENCE EVENTS

  Institute for New Presidents

1:00 - 4:00 p.m.


  Senior Student Affairs Officers Conference

12:30 - 5:30 p.m.  

  Mission Officers Conference

11:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.  

  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officers Conference

12:30 - 5:30 p.m.

  Friday, February 5 — 2021 ANNUAL MEETING BEGINS

Sr. Andrea Lee, IHM, President, Alverno College, and Chair, ACCU Board of Directors

11:00 - 11:15 a.m.

Healing the Soul of a Nation: The Challenge of Racial Justice

A leading Catholic theologian addresses the thorny issue of racial justice past and present. He will speak from an abiding conviction that the Catholic faith and the Black experience make essential contributions in the continuing struggle against racial injustice that is the work of all people. Fr-Bryan-Massingale

Rev. Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theology, Fordham University 

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


11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
 Concurrent Sessions 
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

A1 - Beyond Ex Corde: Pope Francis's Hopes for Catholic Universities Rev-Friedrich-Bechina

Ex corde Ecclesiae, issued in 1990 by Pope St. John Paul II, was the first document in Church history to define the role of the Catholic university for the world. Subsequent popes have added to this teaching in both their writing and speaking. This presentation, given by the Vatican’s senior-most English-speaking representative of the Vatican Congregation for Education, seeks to make us aware of Pope Francis’s hopes and priorities for Catholic higher education. 

Rev. Friedrich Bechina, FSO, Undersecretary, Congregation for Catholic Education, The Holy See 

Moderator: John DeGioia, President, Georgetown University


A2 - Talking About Race in a Catholic Context
Amid national tensions and discord regarding race, Catholic colleges and universities observe and experience acute, ongoing challenges as they seek to align social justice, a commitment to access and equity, and community ideals with current realities. Presenters will explore the role of Catholic institutions in the national dialogue about race and social justice; and how the voice of Catholic social justice speaks to reconciliation efforts.

Sally Amoruso, Chief Partner Officer, EAB

James Collins, President, Loras College

Antoine Garibaldi, President, University of Detroit Mercy

Christopher Whitt, Vice Provost, Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Creighton University

Sponsored by EAB


A3 - Emerging Sponsorship Models
Speakers will examine effective sponsorship models and explore existing governance relationships between religious congregations and boards of limited jurisdiction, specifically addressing the notions of ownership, control, sponsorship, and trusteeship. Emphasis will be placed on Catholic religious-sponsored governance that has many overlapping realities and varied definitions among groups engaged in Catholic governance.

Barbara McDonald, President, College of St. Scholastica

Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, Canonical Consultant to Religious, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Moya Dittmeier, Executive Director, Conference for Mercy Higher Education

 Sponsored by Stevens & Lee/Griffin


 Real-World Solutions Sessions
1:45 - 2:45 p.m.

RW1Through the Lens of a World Upended: Leadership, Transformation, and Technology
2020 presented innumerable challenges to the higher education community, yet faith, resilience, and adaptability highlighted the very best of the industry. These characteristics also provided critical lessons learned that will transform higher education and carry forward opportunities and adjustments far into the future. In this session, speakers will take a hard look at Catholic higher education through the lens of both a pandemic and racial divide, along with bolstering student persistence and adapting enrollment strategies to address post-COVID-19 challenges.

David A. Armstrong, President, St. Thomas University

Richard L. Ludwick, President, The University of St. Thomas (TX)

Kevin Quinn, President, Aquinas College (MI)

Facilitator: Robert Cominsky, Vice President, Managed Services, Ellucian


RW2 - The Pandemic and the U.S. Presidential Transition: Mastering the 2021 Federal Grant Funding Landscape
Join a discussion of how to build a competitive grant-seeking strategy to fund critical campus needs, such as scholarships, curriculum development, and student support. Special attention will be given to federal funding opportunities created by the U.S. presidential transition and unique opportunities created by federal agencies to respond to higher education funding needs arising from the pandemic. We will discuss effective strategies for motivating faculty to apply for federal grants, sustaining grant-seeking interest and success over the long term, and diversifying funding sources on campus.

John McAllister and Jessica Gerrity, McAllister & Quinn

Ann Branchini, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Molloy College


RW3 - Trends for Mergers and Private System Affiliations: The Post-COVID-19 Consolidation Era
Navigating the future and finding prosperity in an era of change require a deeper understanding of the macro trends shaping higher education. The consolidation era for higher education is happening as a result of institutional closures, mergers, affiliations, and private system affiliations. This workshop will outline detailed alternatives for Catholic institutions to engage in a Private System Affiliation that includes preparing a buy or sell side strategy; and aligning a merger or affiliation with long-term institutional prosperity.

Rick Beyer, Senior Fellow, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges


RW4 – Student Success in the New Reality(ies)
Campuses are facing increased challenges to meet the needs and expectations of students, their families, and the faculty and staff who serve them both. The key components of student success theory still resonate in 2021: engaged learning, psychological sense of belonging, and intentionally inclusive experiences. The delivery of those experiences requires a radically adaptive strategy, owned by the entire campus community. This session will feature examples of such innovation, particularly as executed through a campus-wide project called Moving the Needle.

Joretta Nelson, Senior Vice President & Owner, Credo

Tom Flynn, Senior Consultant, ACCU Consulting Services


RW5 – Modern Governance 101: Improving Board Management Through COVID and Beyond
Higher education administrators and trustees have long relied on BoardEffect to improve board management and streamline better decision making. With the challenges brought about by COVID-19, education leaders need as much operational and strategic support as possible. BoardEffect's higher ed clients, including a substantial cohort of Catholic colleges and universities, have continued to leverage the firm's support beyond the boardroom, working to maintain operational efficiency, meet compliance standards, and drive key decision making. This session will offer an overview of key features to help bring greater efficiency and engagement in governance activities, cover how to incorporate deeper committee management, and more.

Peter Atsaves, Senior Governance Advisor, BoardEffect

Diane Fornieri, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Board of Trustees, Molloy College


Preceded by presentation of the ACCU Presidents' Distinguished Service Award to Denise J. Doyle, Provost Emerita, University of the Incarnate Word, by Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, President, ACCU


Moment to See, Courage to Act
“This is the moment to see the poor.” These April 2020 words of Pope Francis call out the multiple crises that the disadvantaged face, which, though starkly laid bare by COVID-19, are longstanding and enduring. Catholic colleges and universities are especially well-equipped to engage these profound justice issues — when we find the courage to act.  Marie-Lynn-Miranda

Marie Lynn Miranda, Provost, University of Notre Dame

Moderator: Deanne Horner D’Emilio, President, Gwynedd Mercy University

3:00 - 4:15 p.m.
  Saturday, February 6 

Bishop John M. Quinn of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester (MN), and Chair, Higher Education Working Group of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Introduction: Rev. Mark Poorman, CSC, President, University of Portland


11:00 - 11:15 a.m.

Preceded by presentation of the ACCU Monika K. Hellwig Award to M. Shawn Copeland, Professor Emerita, Department of Theology, Boston College, by Mary Finger, President, Seton Hill University


The New Administration and Its Impact on Higher Education
The ushering in of a new administration could pave the way for a dramatic shift in higher education policies, possibly making tuition free for many seeking a college education and wiping away the debt of millions of people repaying student loans. Experts will discuss the widespread implications of the new White House administration for higher education.  Barbara-Mistick

Barbara Mistick, President, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities  

Terry Hartle, Senior Vice President, American Council on Education 

Moderator: David Livingston, President, Lewis University 

11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.





 Presidents-only Business Meeting (member presidents only, please)

12:30 - 1:30 p.m.
 Concurrent Sessions
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.


B1 - Navigating a Divided Church

The religious scholar Martin E. Marty noted decades ago that every world religion was becoming a house divided, pitting a mainstream against a more conservative wing. That pattern has only continued into the present, often requiring Catholic higher education leaders to declare their positions, sidestep the divisions altogether, or help the parties hear one another and heal their rifts. Frank Butler’s new book, Belonging, draws on a lifetime of service to the Church both within the U.S. Bishops Conference and “outside,” from his longtime presidency of FADICA, and provides balanced and helpful insight. 

Francis J. Butler, Author, Board Member of the National Catholic Reporter, Past President of FADICA

Discussant: Sr. Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, President, Chestnut Hill College

Sponsored by Tree of Life Bookstores


B2 - The Free Tuition Movement and Catholic Higher Education
In response to alarm over the student debt crisis, a growing contingent has begun calling for free college tuition. Although some institutions were free or low-cost in the past, there was never a national mandate. Critics of the free-tuition movement allege that this approach can encounter complications based on family income. We will explore the pros and cons. 

Donald Heller, Vice President of Operations, University of San Francisco

Linda LeMura, President, Le Moyne College

Dan Elsener, President, Marian University


B3 – Keeping Mission Front and Center in a Virtual Environment
As students engage in an online space, how do we keep the mission of the Catholic Church a central focus of the learning experience? How do we demonstrate — virtually — the strengths and values of being Catholic? How do we instill a sense of community as a central component of Catholicism in a virtual environment? Speakers in this session will address these questions and offer solutions, as virtual opportunities continue to proliferate.

Rev. Mark Bosco, SJ, Vice President for Mission & Ministry, Georgetown University 

Shannon Green, Director, CSJ Institute, Mount Saint Mary's University (CA)

Claire Noonan, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Dominican University

Sponsored by Metz Culinary Inc.


 Real-World Solutions Sessions
1:45 - 2:45 p.m.

RW6 – The Implications of 2020 Court Rulings on Catholic Institutions
This session will highlight the past year’s three major court rulings significant to Catholic higher education. Presenters will explain (1) the recent ruling on the ministerial exception and — while it's still developing through new litigation — presenters will help participants better understand it; (2) the decertification of union formation, considering recent court decisions reaffirming Supreme Court precedent, is an active matter on several campuses; and (3) lastly, presenters will discuss Title IX and its implications for Catholic colleges and universities. 

Mark Chopko, Stradley Ronon, LLP

Michael D. O'MaraChair, Litigation, Stradley Ronon, LLP


RW7 – Capital Development for Catholic Colleges and Universities: New Needs, New Solutions
Nimble, opportunistic, collaborative, innovative, entrepreneurial: words that describe necessary institutional behaviors to survive and thrive. These behaviors cannot be reached without CAPITAL, a strategic commodity that affords more than just bricks and mortar. Capital embraces balance sheet items for ongoing academic program retooling and renewal, repurposed facilities, education technologies, and improved student success programs. This presentation covers a new concept for higher education capital needs, current and future institutional borrowing environments, and an innovative asset monetization model as a major, real-world, capital source solution.

John Cavanaugh, Consulting Vice President, Kaludis Consulting 

David Fumi, Managing Director, Bonds, Campus Capital 

Michael Grandillo, President, Madonna University  

Todd Holstlaw, Founder and CEO, Campus Capital 

George Kaludis, President, Kaludis Consulting 


RW8 - Healthy Building Environments: Theory to Action at St. Mary's University
This session is intended to move from theory into practice, highlighting one of the most consequential challenges facing campuses nationwide: university-wide health and safety solutions and programs. Thanks to a unique partnership between St. Mary's University of Minnesota, and Delos, a research, standards, and technology organization for healthy building environments, we will provide a firsthand, real-world perspective of an evidence-based program implemented at St. Mary’s in August 2020. We will explore a subset of tools to help drive a healthy return to campus, focused on indoor environments, the Well Living Lab developed in collaboration with the Mayo Clinic, and the WELL Building Standard. Using St. Mary's as a case study, valuable insights, research, and tools will be discussed, as well as implications for all universities to consider going forward in their efforts to elevate health and safety interventions on campuses.

Rev. James Burns, President, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Tim Gossen, Vice President  of Student Affairs, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Paul Scialla, Founder and CEO, Delos

Barbara Spurrier, Executive Director, Well Living Lab, a Mayo Clinic & Delos Collaboration


RW9Retired or Rewired? Options for the Retiring President
Join us in a conversation with Eugene “Gene” McAllister, formerly president of the University of Great Falls and a Registry member, discussing his tenure as a Registry Interim President at Saint John’s University (MN). After serving 13 years as a transformational president at Great Falls, McAllister joined The Registry in July 2019, signing on as Interim President at Saint John’s, a position he continues to hold. This Real-World Solutions session will be a conversation between McAllister and Registry Advisory Services President Kevin J. Matthews about how an interim president can make a unique difference to a higher education institution and how the interim work can be fulfilling at that time in a person’s career. Please join us to see how The Registry can be useful to college presidents now and in retirement.

Eugene McAllister, President, Saint John’s University (MN)

Kevin Matthews, President, Registry Advisory Services


RW 10 - Promoting Student Health and Well-being with Remote Solutions
Catholic colleges and universities are known for their holistic, student-centric approaches to well-being. However, COVID-19 has disrupted models that had previously served students well. Learn how Neumann University and Saint Mary’s College are meeting students' physical and emotional needs through a dynamic and student-first partnership with TimelyMD, higher education’s leading telehealth provider. Panelists will discuss the benefits of early intervention and enabling students access to medical care, mental health counseling, psychiatric services, and health coaching; how student use of well-being services has increased with the introduction of a wider range of services; and how securely sharing electronic health records ensures student affairs staff are informed of student issues in a timely manner.

Christopher Haug, Vice President for Student Affairs, Neumann University

Heather Abbott, Counselor, Saint Mary’s College

Alan Dennington, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder, TimelyMD


Presidential Spouses Networking Event
Graduate Students Seminar


1:45 - 2:45 p.m.
1:45 - 2:45 p.m.

Preceded by presentation of the ACCU Rev. Theodore Hesburgh Award to Br. James Gaffney, FSC, President Emeritus, Lewis University, by Sr. Andrea Lee, IHM, President, Alverno College, and Chair, ACCU Board of Directors  


The Future of American Higher Education
Renowned higher ed futurist Art Levine will present his perspective on the effects of America’s changing demographics, economics, and technology as three forces with the capacity to transform the country’s colleges and universities, cautioning that the disruptive changes occurring in present-day society haven’t been seen since the Industrial Revolution. One of the consequences of this kind of change is that all social institutions, not just colleges, but also government, healthcare, and media all appear to be broken. They were all built for a different time, Levine says, and they don’t work as well as they once did. 

Arthur Levine, The Steinhardt Institute of Higher Education Policy, New York University  Arthur-Levine

Introduction/Moderator: Gerry Turcotte, President, Saint Mary’s University (Canada)


Closing Remarks, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, President, ACCU
3:00 - 4:15 p.m.