News from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities
Recent ACCU Program Highlights | Upcoming Programming & Announcements | Additional ACCU Updates
There have been many opportunities to support our ACCU leaders through offered programs and events since late spring and throughout the summer.
Please see highlights and reflections below and check out our full list of future events and programs...
NetVUE Luncheon: March 24, 2022
Reflections on the 2022 National NetVUE Conference and Context Provided by Fr. Dennis
by Paul C. Koch, Provost & Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, St. Ambrose University
I recently had the privilege of attending the National NetVUE Conference March 2022 with a team of faculty and administrators from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. Having benefited from a Professional Development Award from NetVUE, we were eager to attend the national conference so we could learn about more available opportunities and benefit from networking with colleagues from across the United States and beyond.
NetVUE is the acronym for the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education. The program is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) with support from the Lilly Endowment Inc. and membership dues. As noted in the NetVUE program description, the purposes of NetVUE are as follows.
- Deepen the understanding of the intellectual and theological dimensions of vocational exploration;
- Examine the role of vocational exploration in a variety of institutional contexts;
- Share knowledge, best practices, and reflection on experiences across participating campuses;
- Facilitate the incorporation of additional colleges and universities into this enterprise; and
- Sustain an extended program in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation.
Of special importance and meaning to me and other representatives from Catholic colleges and universities was the opportunity to meet with Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, ACCU President, over lunch the day before the conference began. This helped to establish an important context for the upcoming meeting as members of a Catholic university community. Our thanks to Fr. Dennis and ACCU for supporting us in being able to attend this pre-conference luncheon with him!
I have taken the liberty of liberally using Fr. Dennis’s remarks, or at least paraphrases based on my rapid note-taking, in the following and inserting my own comments and reflections throughout. To begin the conversation, Fr. Dennis reminded us that, while there are a variety of reasons we joined Catholic higher education, we are all joined by our mission and passion to serve students and see them develop in their own unique way. The concept of vocation lies at the center of this passion and allows us to respond to the needs of the world with strength and conviction.
Fr. Dennis went on to discuss our vocation as administrators in Catholic higher education, and provided documentation of the import that we play in both the United Sates and the world.
- We have the opportunity to education close to 900,000 students every year, and it is a trust [and treasure] given to us. In light of these numbers, it struck me as an amazing opportunity to provide students at all levels with the skills necessary to serve society well with meaning and purpose in their own lives. As our mission at St. Ambrose suggests, it is about enriching lives.
- With more than 200 Catholic institutions in the United States and approximately 1500 worldwide, this trust is returned in the following way. We are the largest provider of non-governmental higher education in the world. In addition, the Catholic church is the largest non-governmental source of healthcare; provides the largest amount non-governmental services to the poor and marginalized; and, in general, is the largest provider of services in the world.
As Fr. Dennis noted, this establishes an amazing context in which we work. This context challenged me, as I finalized the list of sessions I planned on attending during the conference itself, to consider how St. Ambrose was rising to the challenge presented by the trust placed in us. I also reflected on statements our campus ministers have made during first-year orientation over the years. One of these statements that frequently comes to mind is, “we don’t do what we do because those we serve are Catholic, we do what we do because we are Catholic.”
- Our collective vocation in Catholic higher education is that we have an intellectual tradition where learning matters to us and we are about equipping the young for life ahead. Many or most of us also introduce students to a conversation about faith while respecting other faith traditions without trying to convert. Importantly, we introduce these conversations while being unapologetic about being Catholic institutions of higher education and the critical importance of assisting students in their own faith and spiritual journeys. Drawing on another comment made at an orientation for first-year students at St. Ambrose is the idea, “we can’t be a Catholic university if we only educate Catholics.” Our conversations about faith have truly been enriched by these interfaith dialogues while being true our identity as a Catholic university. This became especially poignant as we held multiple synodal conversations with students, faculty, and staff over the past several months.
Fr. Dennis noted what a powerful moment it is when students have the opportunity to meet highly educated people to whom faith matters and who are open and willing to discuss their faith journey, both in and out of the classroom. We are powerfully blessed to be at institutions where all things are open for discussion grounded in an intellectual tradition where faith and reason intersect and inform one another. As Pope St. John Paul II stated, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth…” (Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, no. 1).
Several years ago, I had the privilege of attending a session by Dr. Terrence Tilley, now Professor Emeritus at Fordham University, at the pre-conference workshop for Chief Academic Officers at the Annual Meeting of ACCU. His words about the grammar of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition (CIT) stuck with me and I incorporate them into my “elevator speech” when I am interviewing potential faculty members and speaking with others. Dr. Tilley suggested that the grammar of the CIT is derived from the analogical imagination and uses words like “both/and” rather than “either/or.” This simple explanation has stuck with me in a meaningful way as I reflect that I can be both a scientist and a person of faith rather than being forced into a position of being either one or the other; my life is richer for this understanding. This is an understanding that we can offer our students in a powerful way, regardless of their own personal faith tradition.
As I attended the remainder of the conference I overheard or participated in conversations about vocation, and occasionally people who were struggling with the meaning (or misunderstood meaning by some) of the word vocation. In the end, all agreed vocation is about finding meaning and purpose in one’s life. As Fr. Dennis noted, we educate students so they can enter the world as smart, savvy, wise leaders, and live lives of meaning and purpose, and this is what distinguishes us.
Fr. Dennis closed his conversation with us by reminding us it’s all God’s work and that we are continuing the Teaching Ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus took time to learn the scholarship of the time and spent time in the presence of experts. He spent the bulk of his time shaping people’s views about life in a manner that enhanced human flourishing and not just his Jewish community; “In the end, it is all about human flourishing.”
I am so blessed to be at a Catholic institution where I am free to use this context and frame as a guide for my own continual vocational discernment and understanding of what I am called to do in my own faith journey.
Rome Seminar: May 29-June 2, 2022
This summer's Rome Seminar, held May 29- June 2, offered presidents, senior administrators, and faculty leaders at ACCU member institutions a firsthand opportunity to explore the intellectual and spiritual legacy of the Catholic Church in order to strengthen and promote the mission of Catholic higher education. Just as importantly, it also gave participants an opportunity to act as ambassadors to Rome.
Conducted and coordinated by ACCU senior staff and the staff of the Lay Centre at Foyer Unitas in Rome, the seminar offered a unique inside look at the Vatican and an inspiring experience of the Eternal City's spiritual treasures. Included was in-depth conversations with key representatives within the Holy See and Rome's pontifical universities.
Gerry Turcotte, newly-elected president and principal of Corpus Christi and St. Mark’s Colleges, in British Columbia, recently reflected on his experience as a participant in the ACCU 2022 Rome Seminar, which is available here.
Additional information for 2024 Rome Seminar will be released later this fall!. We hope to have you join us!
Discerning the Presidency: June 20-22, 2022
ACCU offered a two-day conference June 20-22, 2022 at Boston College for those who are seriously discerning a presidency in Catholic higher education. Current ACCU presidents submitted over 35 nominations for this year's program! The two-day retreat offered a more in-depth experience for participants than the typical leadership conference, allowing both group and one-on-one conversations about the job itself, preparing oneself for it, and about discerning the presidency as a vocational call.
ASACCU Conference & Launch of 3rd Edition of the Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities
The 2022 Association of Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities (ASACCU) conference was held June 21-24, 2022, at the University of Portland--a welcomed gathering of professionals and colleagues, especially having not gathered for this conference in over two years due to pandemic-set limitations.
The theme, "Cultivating the mind and heart: The evolving role of student affairs in Catholic higher education", allowed attendees as Catholic higher education student affairs professionals to explore and engage in dialogue over how we respond to mental health challenges, promote well-being along with equity and inclusion, foster social justice, and create communities that can engage in civil discourse, critical inquiry, and ethical reflection. Many of the conference topics provided opportunities for shared best practices as well as support of self care, spiritual growth, a re-centering of our "why" for the profession, and a replinishment of an important resource for all attendees--themselves.
Dr. Lauretta Frederking, President at Brescia University College and one of the conference keynotes, spoke about how resiliency and following our call can lead us into innovative ways of being a university and how to support our communities. Hannah M. Pick, program manager for University of Portland’s Dundon-Berchtold Institute for Moral Formation and Applied Ethics, and Dr. David Farina Turnbloom, associate professor of theology at the University of Portland, served as panelists following the keynote.
Dr. Larry Roper, now-retired Vice President for Student Affairs at Oregon State University, allowed space for attendees during his keynote address to explore the responsibility to restore health and hope to our campus communities and to respond to the charge with ambitious leadership to claim the sacred ground upon which our missions are constructed. University of Portland's Dr. SimonMary Asese Aihiokhai, associate professor of systematic theology, along with Dr. Eduardo R. Contreras, inaugural associate provost for international education, diversity, and inclusion, provided detailed observations and questions following Dr. Roper's keynote.
Additionally, an offered pre-conference led by Dr. Julianne Wallace, director of apostolic mission and charism for the US Province of Priest and Brothers Congregation of Holy Cross, and Debi Haug, executive director for mission at the Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities (AFCU), provided additional conversations and explorations on how charism informs the work, actions and decisions on campuses of Catholic higher education.
Launch of 3rd Edition of the Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities
During the ASACCU conference, an all-attendee session was held that provided all attendees an overview of the newest edition of the Principles of Good Practice for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities, utilizing multimedia and small-group discussion to provide attendees with take-aways on how they might use the Principles on their home campuses. The session was facilitated by Dr. Chris Haug, Vice President of Student Affairs at Neumann University, along with co-presenters Tshombé Brown, residence life hall director at University of Portland, Dr. Dave Johnson, associate provost and chief student affairs officer at Xavier University and outgoing JASPA president, and Dr. Linda McMurdock, vice president for student affairs at Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles, and chair of ASACCU.
The reimagining of this document was through collaborative efforts of ACCU, ASACCU, and the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators (JASPA) along a multitude of voices across the nation with representation across all position levels and a dedicated writing team--written for student affairs professional by student affairs professionals in Catholic higher education. We are most grateful for their contributions that now provide a framework for student affairs professionals at Catholic colleges and universities in their reflection and conversation, staff development, and planning and assessment. Born out of our Catholic tradition and shared across our many and diverse institutions, this reimagined, current-for-our-times-now guide is a tool to support and assist the transformative work of student affairs practice and can be used to catalyze discussion with a broad array of leaders across Catholic higher education.
A designated website has been created for all Principles resources, including introductory videos and access to download materials for free or order hard copies for a minimal charge. This site will continue to house new tools and additional assets for student affairs teams to bring back to their campuses.
We welcome any ideas for support documents or other tools that might be helpful in supporting student affairs teams on our member campuses. Please contact Michelle Evans, ACCU Director of Marketing and Member Services, with any suggestions or questions.
Presidents Institute on Diversity: June 22-24, 2022
ACCU's latest partnership with the Interfaith America provided a two-day program--strictly for presidents--in which participants reflected on best practices when leading a diversity agenda that incorporates a faith perspective. Titled "Faithfully Forward: Meeting the Challenge of Equity & Inclusion Head On", 15 ACCU Presidents joined ACCU and Interfaith America in Chicago for three days of speakers and small group conversations exploring the intersection of the Catholic faith and diversity, equity, and inclusion work on their campuses.
Catholic colleges and universities have a distinct opportunity for impact, fortified by the mission and religious traditions of their institutions. This capacity building program provided attendees with refreshed energy, new tools and approaches, and a community of peers with common commitments that support a mission-specific framework for inclusive leadership. This year's cohort of presidents represented a range of charisms fostering a diverse dialogue and deep connections that will support their leadership and resilience into the future.
The Institute was blessed with national experts who spoke on the tenants of Catholicism which offer a rich theological foundation upon which to build infrastructure, policies, and culture that advance DEI work:
Dr. Eboo Patel, President & Founder, Interfaith America (IFYC), opened the Institute discussing Catholic Pluralism.
Fr. Bryan Massingale, Professor of Theology, Fordham University, spoke on Racism & the Catholic Conscience.
Panelists, Dr. Gina A. Garcia, University of Pittsburgh, Dr. John DeCostanza, Dominican University, and Jaqueline Romo, Catholic Theological Union spoke on Supporting Hispanic Students: Opportunities for Colleges and Universities.
Dr. Robert Franklin, President Emeritus, Morehouse College, closed the Institute with a powerful talk on The Call for Moral Leadership
Registration Open: IFCU General Assembly: July 30 - August 3, 2022
The International Federation of Catholic Colleges and Universities (IFCU) General Assembly will be held in the United States this summer at Boston College, from July 30 - August 3. This meeting is not held every year and is moved among the continents when it is scheduled, making this a somewhat rare event and honor for the U.S.
Registration is still open and additional information, including schedule of events, has been released. Mark these dates on your calendar should you wish to gain a larger sense of the international landscape of Catholic higher education.
Institute for New Presidents at Catholic Colleges and Universities: Registration Open!
The 2023 Institute for New Presidents at Catholic Colleges and Universities is a program open to all new and interim presidents of Catholic colleges and universities in their first two years of office. It is an opportunity to network with peers and learn from experienced leaders in Catholic higher education.
Several events have been designed for this upcoming year's program, including an in-person, full day program immediately before the 2023 Annual Meeting as well as three virtual sessions.
Full Day Program:
Friday, February 3, 2023: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Eastern) at The Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC
Plus Three Virtual Sessions:
- Friday, September 23, 2022: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern) via Zoom
- Friday, November 4, 2022: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern) via Zoom
- Friday, April 14, 2023: 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Eastern) via Zoom
Learn more about the program and...
Registration open! Vatican II and Catholic Higher Education Conference, October 13-15, 2022
Sacred Heart University celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, as well as the 60th anniversary of the University’s founding in the spirit of Vatican II. Both the first session of Vatican II and Bishop Walter W. Curtis’ founding of Sacred Heart University took place during October 1962.
To celebrate this landmark moment in the history of Catholic higher education and the Catholic intellectual tradition, Sacred Heart University, sponsored by a grant from the Lilly Fellows Program, and supported by Sacred Heart University present "Vatican II and Catholic Higher Education: Leading Forward" Conference. The two-day conference will be held October 13-15, 2022 at Sacred Heart University.
For additional information about the conference and to register, please go to the conference site.
Uniservitate 2022 Award for Service-Learning Promotion in Catholic Higher Education: Award Recipient Announcement Coming Soon!
On March 22nd, the Uniservitate 2022 Award for Service-Learning Promotion in Catholic Higher Education announced the acceptance of applications. The award recognizes the best educational experiences of service-learning developed by Catholic Higher Education Institutions (CHEIs), which integrate academic learning and concrete actions of service to the community. In addition, the award aims to make visible good practices that tend to the comprehensive education of students as responsible citizens, critical, creative and transformative protagonists of society. In this way, the Uniservitate Award intends to become a source of inspiration for the entire university world.
The award considers all the initiatives –even the most incipient– that were launched between January 2019 and April 2022 within the framework of CHEIs from anywhere in the world. For ACCU member institutions, this award could have a transformational impact both globally and locally. Learn more about the award and Uniservitate...
Winner will be announced on Tuesday, July 19th, via ACCU social media platforms.
2023 Annual Meeting: Registration Opening Soon!
Each winter, presidents and senior administrators from Catholic colleges and universities around the world come together in Washington, DC for ACCU's signature event. The Annual Meeting offers members the opportunity to greet colleagues, share ideas, and discuss important issues in Catholic higher education. The ACCU Annual Meeting is preceded by several specially tailored programs that draw participants from key offices on member campuses.
2023 Annual Meeting
February 3-6, 2023
The Capital Hilton Hotel, Washington, DC
Take a virtual tour of our venue! Registration and room block will open in early fall. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, DC!
Lend your voices (literally) at the 2023 Annual Meeting!
ACCU invites our member institutions to showcase and share the talents of their college or university choirs at our Saturday Opening Liturgy on February 4, 2023. In 2021 and 2022, the Marywood University Chamber Singers graced our Opening Mass with their angelic voices. Previous years have also enjoyed performances from The Catholic University of America, Georgetown University and Loyola University of Maryland, among others.
Interested in participating? Please contact Alexandra Flinn-Palcic, Director of Annual Meeting, at email@example.com for more information. We hope that your institution will consider joining us!