Chief Diversity Officers
Vision and Voice for Catholic Higher Education      Learn More



Racial Justice:

See how Catholic higher ed is responding to calls for justice.



Free Resource:

Read about practical ways to integrate Hispanic and Latinx traditions into your campus.

Chief Diversity Officers


In 2015–16, over 40% of the student body population in Catholic higher education was non-white. Over the past six years, the number of white students enrolled in Catholic colleges and universities decreased by 8%, while the number of Hispanic students increased by 38%. Currently, 29 ACCU member colleges are identified as Minority-Serving Institutions, including Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Predominantly Black Institutions, and one HBCU (Historically Black College or University). An additional 17 institutions serve student body populations that are over 50% non-white.

To address these demographics, ACCU has offered a selection of events and resources to the Catholic higher education community. Most recently, it has helped coordinate the launch of a new professional association: Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officers in Catholic Higher Education. Details about the group follow.

In conjunction with its 2021 Annual Meeting, ACCU will be offering a dedicated pre-conference session for those who fulfill this vital campus role. See the schedule and link to register below.



To provide a forum for diversity professionals and university leaders to develop an equity- mindedness framework combining faith, reason, and eliminating systemic and structural barriers to access and opportunity in Catholic higher education and in the broader society.


In 2019, DePaul University collaborated with the University of Notre Dame to launch the Consortium of Diversity Officers in Catholic Higher Education. In August 2019, the group held its inaugural convening on DePaul's Loop Campus to discuss the incorporation and intersection of mission, Catholic values, and faith in diversity, equity, and inclusion work.

Twenty-two diversity professionals and religious leaders from universities across the country attended the two-day summer retreat. The group used a pastoral letter on racism, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as a vehicle for the discussion. The group used the pastoral letter as the starting point of an ongoing conversation regarding the meaning and varying strategies to incorporate Catholic social justice teaching and institutional mission into the work of diversity and inclusion in Catholic higher education. The retreat served as an essential first step in discussing DEI through the lens of Catholic education and in the formation of a network of diversity professionals.

Participants at the first retreat developed a camaraderie and shared similar experiences, and discussed strategies for driving institutional change and the importance of developing a network that provides guiding principles to diversity officers and university leaders. The Consortium hopes to transform systems through collective action and to provide thought leadership on what it means to exist in faith, developing equitable diversity and inclusion systems and guiding Catholic higher education.

The Consortium held a second retreat hosted by Creighton University in September 2020, with 33 participants. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the retreat was virtual, but provided the opportunity for diversity officers to discuss antiracism efforts on their campuses and continue conversations on formalizing the group structure. Following the Creighton University retreat, the Consortium spent the fall drafting its mission and purpose, and developing an action plan for a larger convening as part of the 2021 ACCU Annual Meeting.


  1. Connection: Create a space for diversity officers in Catholic higher education to discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and create a sense of community.
  2. Collective Action: Advocate for action-based programs and initiatives that disrupt and transform Catholic higher education.
  3. Collaboration: Collaborate and share best practices for internal synergy with mission officers, presidents, and other university leaders to develop equity-mindedness and social justice.
  4. Creation: DEI Guiding Principles inform diversity and executive leaders on what must be done to achieve equity in ACCU institutions.
  5. Communication: Provide a forum for DEI learning. Intellectual contributions and communique on DEI positions on current issues


Consortium for Chief Diversity Officers in Catholic Higher Education Conference

A 2021 ACCU Annual Meeting Pre-Conference Session

Thursday, February 4, 2021

12:30 - 5:30 p.m. (EST)


Conference Schedule

 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Consortium Roundtable Discussion

Over the past year, several Chief Diversity Officers have been working to create a consortium specific to those working at Catholic colleges and universities to better support the unique positions we hold.  Please join this open discussion to hear about the work that has been completed and how you can actively engage with the newly formed Consortium of Chief Diversity Officers in Catholic Higher Eduction. We will be reviewing the purpose, mission, history, and work ahead for this professional development and networking group.

Lawrence Burnley, University of Dayton
Elizabeth Ortiz, DePaul University
Christopher Whitt, Creighton University
Pamela Young, University of Notre Dame

 1:30 – 2:25 p.m.

Presidential Panel

Leadership on campus is essential to the success of diversity, equity, and inclusion work on campus. Three Catholic college and university presidents will join us for a discussion on how they work with their Chief Diversity Officers to address needs on campus.

Panelists:  TBD

 2:25 – 2:30 p.m.


 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Partnering on the Verge

Join us for a moderated conversation with panelists from four campuses on fostering partnerships across divisions, bridging any communication or outreach divides during the crises of the past year, and working together with students, demonstrating active listening and incorporation of the student voice.

Lawrence A. Burnley, Vice President, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, University of Dayton
William Fischer, Vice President for Student Development, University of Dayton
Crystal Sullivan, Executive Director of Campus Ministry, University of Dayton
Janet Cox, Dean of Students, Mount St. Joseph University
Sister Karen M Elliott, C.PP.S., Director of Mission Integration, Mount St. Joseph University
Rayshawn Eastman, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Mount St. Joseph University

Moderator: Matt Goodwin, Associate Vice President & Dean of Students, Saint Joseph’s College

 3:30 – 3:35 p.m.


3:35 - 4:30 p.m.

The Catholic Call to Action on the Verge: Creating a Unified and United Catholic Voice on Racial Justice

Elizabeth Ortiz, Vice President of Institutional Diversity and Equity, DePaul University 
Christopher Whitt, Vice Provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, Creighton University
Adam Setmeyer, Vice President of Mission & Ministry and Director of Campus Ministry, Marian University
Chris Haug, Vice President for Student Affairs, Neumann University

 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Social Hour