News & Notes
from Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities members
Campus Highlights | Commencement Celebrations | Additional Highlights & Recognition
At Chaminade University, a group of people from all walks of life gathered this past March at Chaminade’s Mystical Rose Oratory to begin a five-year journey of academic, spiritual and pastoral formation aimed at preparing them for life as a deacon—or a deacon’s wife—in the Catholic Church. Nearly 40 people attended the diaconate candidate orientation, including 22 program participants.
Dr. Dustyn Ragasa, director of the Master of Pastoral Theology program at Chaminade and an assistant professor of Religious Studies, said the newest diaconate cohort includes 10 couples and two single men. They are members of the military and law enforcement, teachers and professors, health care professionals, and business owners. “Each one brings along with them a wealth of practical experience that enables them to do theology in their own unique ways,” Ragasa said. “Some candidates come to us with previous theological training and others are learning the fundamentals of disciplined theological inquiry. Some are lifelong Catholics and others are recent converts to the faith. This mosaic of perspectives enriches the learning experience as a whole.”
The March 12 orientation was the first held at the Mystical Rose Oratory—what Ragasa said underscores the strong partnership between the Diocese of Honolulu and Chaminade. Participants in the Diocese of Honolulu’s permanent diaconate formation program can opt to also pursue a graduate certificate, Master of Pastoral Theology or Religious Studies bachelor’s degree at Chaminade. Three women and six diaconate candidates across cohorts are currently pursuing a Master of Pastoral Theology at the University. Ragasa stressed that the degree also welcomes laymen and laywomen.
Participants complete the diaconate formation program in cohorts, dedicating three years to intellectual and academic growth and two years to intense spiritual reflection and pastoral work. Along the way, they’re mentored by those who completed the program and are now ministering in parishes.
The seeds for the strong partnership between Chaminade and the diaconate program were planted more than a decade ago, Ragasa said, and the Diocese of Honolulu has since garnered national attention for its commitment to a high quality of theological and academic preparation for its candidates. “Honolulu is one of the very few dioceses that boasts this level of partnership with its local university,” Ragasa added. “Having local professors who understand our cultures, who sit in the pews enables them to address the specific educational needs of men and women ministering in our unique island context.” Learn more about the program...
Photo courtesy of Chaminade University
Hilbert College and BestSelf Behavioral Health announced an agreement to deliver Hilbert’s associate degree in alcohol and substance abuse counseling to BestSelf employees. The partnership, which began this summer, ensures tuition for this program will not exceed BestSelf’s employee tuition benefit. Hilbert’s two-year program consists of 20 courses, including the course sequence needed for Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) certification. The program is designed to allow a student to complete the degree in an online or hybrid model and prepares prepares students for entry-level positions in human service and substance-related fields. Alcohol and substance abuse professionals are employed in a variety of settings, including those providing prevention and treatment services to children and adults through inpatient, outpatient, community-based, and residential programs. Learn more about the agreement and program here...
As the first university in Pennsylvania to introduce an Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing degree program, La Roche University held its 56th commencement ceremony on May 7, recognizing members of the first three ELMSN cohorts' accomplishments before combatting a national nursing shortage that is particularly pronounced in Pennsylvania.
In its 2021 study of the U.S. health care labor market, Mercer, a global workforce analytics and consulting firm, listed the five states projected to have the highest deficit of registered nurses by 2026. Pennsylvania topped the list.
Even pre-pandemic, the warning signs were evident. In a 2019 special report on elder care, Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale urged action before a shrinking health care workforce, combined with an aging population, produced a statewide elder care crisis. With its growing ELMSN program, La Roche is doing its part to alleviate that crisis.
This year’s commencement honored more than 80 students from La Roche’s first three ELMSN cohorts. Students who completed the program in December and May will receive their degrees, and students who will finish their coursework in August can walk now and receive their degrees once they successfully exit the program. They’ll also graduate with the added distinction of having earned their degrees during some of the darkest days in the history of health care. Two years ago, as COVID-19 descended, and the world shut down, La Roche opened the first pre-licensure graduate degree program in nursing in the state, and its students prevailed.
At full capacity, its ELMSN program has the potential to produce 100 to 150 new nurses a year, a mission-critical contribution to the two major health systems that serve the area. Presented in hybrid format with some coursework being completed online, the ELMSN starts three cohorts a year in the fall, spring and summer, and as an accelerated, five-semester master’s program, it can be completed in as little as 20 months. Learn more about the ELMSN program...
Providence College’s School of Continuing Education (PCSCE) announced the launch of flexible degree programs (Flex Programs) for adult learners. Like PCSCE’s other part-time programs, each student chooses their degree path and sets the pace from Day 1. But with Flex Programs, adult learners will also enjoy a learning experience that is delivered almost entirely online, with only a few classes held on PC’s Providence campus. “Our new Flex Programs offer all the benefits of an accredited, world-class education that is designed to fit each individual’s goals and learning preferences,” said PCSCE Dean Carmen Aguilar. “Providence College is committed to serving the evolving needs of adult learners, especially working professionals, throughout the tri-state area. These new programs reflect that commitment by offering students superior accessibility, affordability, and convenience for completing a Providence College bachelor’s degree part time,” Aguilar said. Learn more about the Flex Programs...
Rockhurst University officials dedicated the newly renovated Sedgwick Hall alongside civic leaders and donors who made the project possible on June 3, 2022. The building will serve as the home of the Saint Luke’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences, which became part of the University in July 2019 but has remained at its Westport campus until now. The 1914 building, with its historic status as the first building on campus (and once home of Rockhurst High School), represents a massive investment in the campus landmark as well as the future of nursing and health sciences both at Rockhurst and the Kansas City area. Learn more about the recent renovation...
Beginning in fall 2022, Saint Mary’s University is launching a 15-credit graduate certificate in Catholic school leadership through its new Christ the Teacher program — a joint initiative between the university and the Diocese of Winona-Rochester to support Catholic school teachers in the diocese who are interested in furthering their education. The Graduate Certificate in Catholic School Leadership is an innovative, cohort-based program to be delivered both online and in-person from Saint Mary’s Minneapolis Campus. It is designed for full-time educators who aspire to serve as future leaders in Catholic education.
With formative courses and ongoing mentorship, students gain a foundation from which to imagine how the commitments of the Catholic faith are lived in the context of Catholic education. Students will consider the most crucial issues facing educators today from a Catholic perspective to better engage their students, colleagues, families, and community. Over the course of the program, students develop a long-term project that integrates theory and practice.
A distinctive aspect of this program is that students are paired with an experienced Catholic school leader who serves as a mentor. The mentor assists the learner in their exploration of theory, theology, and practice through application and experience. Faculty members for the graduate program will include leaders in Catholic education from across the country. This certificate is appropriate for both current and aspiring teachers, leaders, and administrators as a credential on top of previous graduate work or a means to explore pathways for future graduate education or credentials. For students seeking to earn a master’s degree, all 15 credits of the graduate certificate program can be applied to the M.A. in Education (30 credits) allowing students to earn their degree in as little as two years. Scholarships may be available to teachers from the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.
“Catholic dioceses need quality teacher preparation, as they play such a crucial role,” said the Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Bishop of Winona-Rochester. “Saint John Baptist de La Salle founded the Brothers to be teachers, and Saint Mary’s continues this tradition of preparing faith-based educational leaders today.”
“We believe that launching a program dedicated to the formation of Catholic school leaders is essential for the future vitality of Catholic schools in the state and beyond,” said Father James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary’s president. “This program is aligned with our mission as a Lasallian Catholic university and our reputation for educational leader preparation in our school of education. We intend this program to be relevant to the needs of today’s school leaders as well as infused with the best treasures of Catholic education.” Learn more about this partnership and program...
Photo above courtesy of Saint Mary's University. Pictured are, from left: front, the Very Rev. James P. Burns, IVD, Ph.D., Saint Mary's president; the Most Rev. John M. Quinn, AFSC, D.D., Bishop of Diocese of Winona-Rochester; Marsha Stenzel, superintendent of Catholic schools; back, Andrew Brannon, chief operating officer, chief finance officer for the diocese; Ann Merchlewitz, J.D., senior vice president and general counsel at Saint Mary's; Michael Hahn, assistant dean of education at Saint Mary's; Christine Gregory, coordinator of curriculum and assessment; and Peter Martin, director of communications for the diocese.
To improve career pathways for students in the health sciences, Trocaire College and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center have partnered to launch the Roswell Scholars program. Beginning Fall 2022, 10 Trocaire students will be accepted into the program annually to work onsite at the Buffalo-based cancer center with Roswell Park staff to learn about potential career paths with the goal of being hired upon completion of their degree. Roswell Park will provide mentors and shadow days, as well as professional development seminars to these students on an annual basis.
“Education has, and always will be, a central tenet of Roswell Park’s mission,” said Candace S. Johnson, Ph.D., President, CEO and M&T Bank Presidential Chair in Leadership, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The program with Trocaire is our chance to share our knowledge and expertise about the latest innovations in cancer care and research to best equip students to enter the healthcare workforce, and we hope that many of these nurses in training will one day join our team at the cancer center.”
Trocaire will provide annual $1,000 scholarships to program participants and facilitate educational programming that will complement and connect the students’ Roswell Park experience to their curriculum or training. In addition, Roswell Park will also provide the opportunity for students and graduates of the Roswell Scholars program to apply and interview for open positions that they are qualified for. Learn more about the Roswell Scholars program...
Photo courtesy of Trocaire College. (Left to Right): Errol Douglas, Ph.D., Chief Human Resources Officer, Roswell Park, Candace Johnson, Ph.D., President & CEO, Roswell Park, Mary Ann Long, MS, RN, Senior Vice President of Nursing, Roswell Park, Andrew Storer, Ph.D., DNP, RN, Deputy Chief Nursing Officer, Roswell Park, Bassam Deeb, Ph.D., President, Trocaire College, and Jackie Matheny, Special Assistant to the President for External Affairs, Trocaire College.
The summer is in full swing with three University of San Francisco coaching staff members offering wonderful opportunities for kids of all ages to get involved and learn from the best San Francisco has to offer. From skill development to fun development, fantastic summer camp experiences for young soccer, volleyball, and basketball players are offered on the Hilltop through the end of July. Learn more about the offered programs and athetlics...
University of Scranton commemorates National Gun Violence Awareness Day and Wear Orange Weekend by lighting the Class of 2020 Gateway orange with a white cross June 3-5. May this remind all of us to raise our hearts in prayer and our hands in action.
Photo (to the left) courtesy of University of Scranton
Caldwell University celebrated its 80th annual commencement on Sunday, May 15, in the Newman Center on campus. Yaman Thapa served as the undergraduate ceremony speaker. Thapa, who will be receiving a chemistry degree with a minor in neuroscience, has been accepted to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in Cold Spring, New York, to pursue her Ph.D. Among her many accomplishments, the Nepal native spent the summer of 2021 interning in the competitive Bernard S. and Sophie G. Gould MIT Summer Research Program in Biology. The graduate ceremony speaker was Patricia Valerio, who received a Master of Business Administration degree from Caldwell. A resident of Lincroft, New Jersey, Valerio is an assistant manager for Medforce where she does event planning for pharmaceutical companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental science from Washington College in Maryland.
The University presented an honorary degree to Louis LaSalle, a longtime executive in New Jersey’s healthcare industry. He recently retired as senior vice president for corporate external affairs at Barnabas Health. LaSalle is a seasoned professional in community, public and governmental affairs in the health care industry, having spent 31 years at RWJ Barnabas Health and St. Barnabas Medical Center. A resident of Roseland, New Jersey, LaSalle is president of the Essex County Parks Foundation, serves on the Caldwell University President’s Advisory Council, is chairman of the Roseland Planning Board and is a member of the board of directors of the American Heart Association. LaSalle has served many other community organizations in Essex County and the Garden State including the Essex County Parks Centennial Committee and the Essex County “Save Turtle Back Zoo” Committee.
A commencement Mass was celebrated in the Sister Mary Dominic Tweedus Chapel on Saturday, May 14, and was open to all graduating students, their families and friends and the faculty and staff of Caldwell University. For further information, go to: https://www.caldwell.edu/graduation/
Canisius College President John J. Hurley presided over his final commencement ceremonies in May, as his tenure at the college comes to a close on June 30. Graduate commencement was scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 in the Koessler Athletic Center (KAC). Undergraduate commencement was scheduled for Saturday, May 21, also in the KAC. The college hosted two undergraduate ceremonies on this day to better accommodate all graduates and their families. Commencement for the College of Artsand Sciences took place at 10:30 a.m. Ceremonies for the School of Education and HumanServices and the Wehle School of Business followed at 1:30 p.m. In addition to the conferral of formal degrees upon graduates, each commencement ceremony included a student speaker address and the conferral of honorary degrees and awards. Among those individuals receiving an honorary degree was Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Canisius conferred the degree, in absentia, in recognition of the profound leadership he is demonstrating in the defense of freedom and democracy, since the launch of a full-scale invasion of the country by Russia. Canisius is among 20 colleges and universities to confer an honorary degree upon Zelenskyy at commencement ceremonies this spring. The joint initiative was unprecedented by higher education institutions in North America but signifies the critical responsibility that colleges and universities bear in promoting the tenets of a liberal society such as the unalienable rights of individuals to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Chaminade University and Hawaii Catholic Schools has recognized Rica Velasco of St. Joseph Parish School as its Hawaii Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year. Velasco, a guidance counselor and technology director at St. Joseph Parish School located in Waipahu, has worked at the school for the past seven years. As part of her award, Velasco received the Golden Pine“apple” trophy; a $1,000 check; and $1,000 in gas gift cards from Hele-Par Hawaii. The Augustine Education Foundation also awarded $1,500 to St. Joseph Parish School in recognition of Velasco’s achievement.
The Hawaii Catholic Schools Teacher of the Year award recognizes excellence in teaching within the Catholic schools in the State of Hawaii and is presented annually by Chaminade University; Hawaii Catholic Schools; and John C. and Marilou Brogan. Awardees are chosen for exhibiting leadership within the school and community, and engaging in the academic and spiritual development of students. Nominees must be a full-time teacher or specialist such as a coach, librarian, counselor, or other staffer in a Catholic School in the State of Hawaii and can be nominated by a student, parent, faculty or staff member of a Catholic school in collaboration with the school’s principal.
Photo courtesy of Chaminade University
The founder of a nationally accredited museum dedicated to Mexican art and a legal advocate for economic and racial justice received honorary degrees from Dominican University during 2022 commencement exercises. Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, and Audra Wilson, president and CEO of the Chicago-based Shriver Center on Poverty Law, accepted Doctor of Humane Letters degrees on May 8.
A former teacher, counselor and administrator in Chicago Public Schools, Tortolero, with a group of fellow educators, founded what would become the National Museum of Mexican Art in 1982. Today, the museum is the largest Latino arts organization in the country and the only Latino museum to receive accreditation by the American Association of Museums. The mission of the museum is to represent the Mexican community “from its own point of view and in its own voice,” a concept for which Tortolero, a native of Mexico, has firmly advocated since the museum’s inception. Passionate about Mexican and minority representation, Tortolero has called for the arts community to be a leader in the movement for societal equality.
Wilson is an attorney who started her career with the Shriver Center on Poverty Law in 1999, focusing on welfare reform and issues of food security. After five years with the organization, she left to serve as deputy press and policy director for Barack Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign. Wilson is the former director of diversity education and outreach at Northwestern University School of Law, former deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, and former executive director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois. As president and CEO of the Shriver Center since 2020, Wilson oversees efforts to litigate, change and shape Illinois policies while making equal justice and economic opportunities possible for its citizens. She has called for an end to viewing and treating poverty as a moral failing and advocates for the dismantling of systems that keep people in poverty.
Tortolero and Wilson addressed the undergraduate class during commencement exercises on Sunday, May 8. Recordings of the ceremony can be viewed at https://www.dom.edu/commencement/2022/livestream.
Saint Leo University students ended their time at the university as they started it—in prayer and thanksgiving. On Friday, May 13, the university community came together to celebrate Baccalaureate Mass in the Marion Bowman Activities Center at University Campus in St. Leo, FL.
Presiding was the Right Reverend Isaac Camacho, OSB, abbot of Saint Leo Abbey. Concelebrants were Reverend Randall Meissen, university chaplain and director of University Ministry, and Reverend Lucius Amarillas, OSB, prior of Saint Leo Abbey. Camacho graduated from Saint Leo in 1995 and Amarillas earned degrees from Saint Leo in 2018 and 2019. Visiting concelebrants joined in the celebration, including Reverend Felix Forgap Nkafu, who earned a Master of Business Administration: Human Resource Management degree.
“How beautiful it is to be grateful for big and small accomplishments,” said Camacho, addressing the graduates. He told them, “You always had someone behind you pushing you to do good, pushing you to be the best you can be. You will apply all that you have learned here.”
On Saturday, May 14, more than 1,200 Saint Leo students proudly walked across the stage at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa during two commencement ceremonies in which doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s, and associate degrees were awarded. The ceremonies celebrated students who studied at the main campus north of Tampa in St. Leo, FL; at its Florida education centers in Tampa, Ocala, Lake City, Jacksonville, Key West, and at the East Pasco Education Center locations in Pasco and Hernando counties; at MacDill Air Force Base (Tampa); at Naval Station Mayport (Jacksonville); and online throughout the world.
Photo courtesy of Saint Leo University
The University of Dayton awarded an honorary doctoral degree in humanities to Brother Raymond L. Fitz, S.M., the longest-serving president in University history and a committed community and faith leader who has dedicated his life to educating young people and addressing critical social justice issues. Fitz, who served as University president from 1979 to 2002, worked on some of the most pressing needs of the Dayton community — poverty, racism and other social concerns that affect children and families. His work, which has spanned more than 50 years, is grounded in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and the Marianists' signature emphasis on community.
Photo courtesy of University of Dayton
Preparing a University to Enter the Fray
by Michele Nelson, Ph.D.
At its annual retreat in September 2020, the Seton Hall University Board of Regents, on the cusp of approving a nearly complete University strategic plan, Harvest Our Treasures, identified several high priority strategic action items for the academic year. In its great wisdom, the Board saw the political, racial and other tensions bubbling across the country and wanted the University to prepare for how it would “enter the fray” of these contentious times in a way that was true to the values and Mission of a great Catholic university. Therefore, the Board identified the development of an Institutional Statement on Academic Freedom Beyond the Classroom as a high priority strategic action item.
The University’s Provost, Dr. Katia Passerini, charged an ad hoc committee to proactively develop such a statement that was to be rooted in the University's Catholic identity. The ad hoc committee, made up of students, faculty, and administrators from across the University and members of the University’s priest community, began its work in early Spring 2021. The group benefitted from the expert guidance of Thomas Flynn, Ph.D., a former Catholic college president who now serves as Senior Associate for ACCU Advising Services.
The ad hoc committee began its work with an education and reflection process that included a presentation by Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, C.M., president of the ACCU, followed by in-depth discussion over several months. The committee reviewed guiding documents from ACCU and benchmarked statements from other institutions, including leading Catholic universities and non-sectarian institutions such as the University of Chicago.
Incorporating guidance and feedback from the full committee throughout the process, a sub-committee led by a member of the University’s priest community, drafted the statement’s prologue, principles and guidelines, specifically addressing invited speakers, performing arts and artistic expression, honorary degrees and major University awards, as well as student demonstrations — as the committee was charged to do.
The ad hoc committee was asked to ensure that the Academic Freedom Beyond the Classroom statement aligned closely with established academic freedom policies found in the University’s Faculty Guides. Those policies remained in place and were not within the purview of this statement.
The ad hoc committee solicited early feedback and comment on the draft Statement from the Deans and Executive Cabinet, the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate and the University’s Priest Advisory Council before a draft of the statement was presented to the Board of Regents for review, comment and practice with case studies at its annual retreat in September 2021.
An updated draft, which reflected early feedback, was then presented to the University community through two presentations to the community-at-large including one to the Student Government Association in Fall 2021. The updated draft statement was posted publicly to gather additional community feedback through an online portal.
The counsel and insights collected from the broader University community during the public review phase were incorporated into a final draft that was presented to and approved by the Board of Regents in December 2020 and the University’s Board of Trustees in January 2022. One Trustee noted, “The University strives for ways to bring Ex Corde Ecclesiae to life, and this Statement has found a way to do it.”
The ad hoc Committee has been particularly pleased at how the approved Institutional Statement on Academic Freedom Beyond the Classroom is unique to Seton Hall, its Mission and culture. Members of the University community are asked to utilize it when planning for invited speakers and performing arts and artistic expression, nominating Honorary Degree and major University award recipients, and when organizing or responding to student demonstrations. As the Statement is implemented, related policies and procedures have been updated, and those awards reserved for top University honors have been identified.
The Board of Regents and the ad hoc Committee took seriously their roles of preparing Seton Hall University to “enter the fray” in a way that models the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, is informed by faith and values and is respectful of diverse views. The process and structure of developing the Statement modeled the values of shared governance that are emblematic of higher education, and the guidance and resources from ACCU were invaluable to the University’s ability to accomplish this outcome.
Michele Nelson, Ph.D., is the vice president, board affairs & university strategy at Seton Hall University
Photos courtesty of Seton Hall University