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More than 40% of presidents in Catholic higher education today have served for more than 6 years — the present average length of tenure. This figure indicates an impending wave of retirements.

Leaders in Catholic Higher Education

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities is committed to equipping Catholic higher education’s next generation of leaders with the knowledge, skills, and reflection required to meet the 21st century demands of Catholic colleges and universities. 

To that end, the ACCU Leaders in Catholic Higher Education program offers rising leaders a distinctive portfolio of competencies across four distinct categories:

Category 1: Inspire Christian values
Category 2: Connect Catholic faith to knowledge and research
Category 3: Embody the Christian message in a faithfully Catholic way
Category 4: Serve all in the search for meaning and transcendence 

This program serves three audiences:
  1. Administrators and faculty currently working within Catholic higher education and who aspire to advance in leadership positions.
  2. Administrators and faculty who are outside Catholic higher education and who seek to enter the world of Catholic colleges and universities.
  3. Those who are in current positions of administrative leadership in Catholic higher education and who seek to deepen their understanding of Catholic higher education in their existing position. 



View this short introduction to our new Leaders in Catholic Higher Education online lessons.

Help shape the Leaders in Catholic Higher Ed program!





Discerning the Presidency

University of Notre Dame
Monday, June 17, 2019, 5:00 p.m. – Wednesday, June 19, 1:00 p.m.
All direct costs associated with the conference will be covered by the University of Notre Dame (including accommodations). Participants must pay their own travel costs. 

A new conference for executive administrators and academics with significant leadership potential who aspire to the position of president. Hosted by the University of Notre Dame, this event is part of the ACCU Leaders in Catholic Higher Education program. This new program will:

  • Offer a different and deeper experience for participants than the typical leadership development program, allowing room for several kinds and levels of conversations, especially about the presidency as a vocational call, between and among prospective and sitting presidents.
  • Provide a few carefully chosen, manageable, and – where possible – integrated readings that prompt reflection about the leadership difference in Catholic higher education.
  • Offer substantial but concise input around important aspects of a president’s work (through the lens of Catholic higher education), coupled with focused discussions around a carefully designed question connected to the theme of each session.
  • Provide meaningful input on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and Catholic Social Teaching, with a focus on what these each mean for a president’s engagement, as well as the practical and differing ways in which institutions reflect these Catholic principles.
  • Include integrated liturgy and prayers that encourage prospective presidents to think about the spiritual and ministerial aspects of a Catholic college presidency. 
  • Provide the opportunity for mentoring as candidates continue on the pathway toward a presidency. 

A maximum of 15 attendees will be accepted. Candidates will be carefully considered based on demonstrated readiness for a presidency, ideally within the nextone to three years. This unique offering is distinct from, yet complementary to, ACCU’s one-day Aspiring Presidents program (to be held in February 2019, immediately prior to the ACCU Annual Meeting).
Nominations should include: 
- Letter of reference from the nominating ACCU president (one-page maximum)
- Applicant CV
- Additional references may be requested from the nominee. 


Thank you to all who submitted nominations for
Discerning the Presidency.

Candidates have been notified and we look forward
to meeting you at Notre Dame in June! 




Development Areas

Programming in the form of online offerings, in-person meetings, conferences, webinars, workshops, seminars, reflection days, retreats, and pilgrimages will ensure development across the four competency categories. Learning from existing programs such as those offered by various charism groups and current ACCU programs (e.g., ACCU’s Rome Seminar, Collegium, and IACHE) will round out the LCHE program.

Across each of the four competency categories, development will focus on:

  1. Knowledge: the history, content, and theoretical foundations needed for decision making; emphasis is on the WHAT of Catholic higher education.
  2. Skills: the aptitudes and practical application necessary to equip the leader to excel in his or her current leadership position and beyond (entry level, mid-level, executive); emphasis is on the HOW of Catholic higher education.
  3. Reflection: formative experiences and spiritual growth opportunities to probe and identify reasons and habits of character enabling a personal transformation; emphasis is on the PERSONAL CHARACTER TRAITS needed to lead within Catholic higher education.

The three development areas of knowledge, skills, and reflection will be developed as leaders gain knowledge, refine application skills, and engage in personal transformation opportunities to advance their professional leadership.


Learning Artifacts

As the participant completes the lessons within the four modules, Learning Artifacts will allow the leader to solidify and make practical the knowledge, skills, and reflection cultivated through the lessons. Learning Artifacts may be tangible elements, such as:

  • a memo to student affairs colleagues.
  • a reflection essay following a pilgrimage to the homeland of the founding congregation.
  • a discussion series with faculty.
  • talking points for a conversation with the local bishop.
  • the creation of a short informative video for the campus community.  

Learning Artifacts are not a "test," but rather an authentic opportunity to allow the learner to solidify learning in a competency category. 


Other Information

The program is now beta-testing! 
Please contact us if you are interested in being a beta tester for our online platform.