Programs for Senior Leaders
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Programs for Senior Leaders

To strengthen and promote the Catholic mission and identity of its member institutions, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities provides services designed specifically for senior administrators at member colleges. ACCU offers timely, targeted programs and services that:

• Help foster vibrant Catholic identity
• Support cooperation among members
• Respond to emerging member needs

In 2020, ACCU was proud to offer these programs:


NEW!  Women Executive Leaders in Catholic Higher Education

Friday, January 31, 2020
Immediately before the 2020 ACCU Annual Meeting

The history of Catholic higher education is marked by strong women leaders and the congregations of women religious that founded many of our institutions. Today, Catholic colleges and universities continue to boast a higher percentage of women presidents than any other higher education sector. We are now at a pivotal moment in history, as lay and religious women are being called to carry forth the rich legacy of our colleges and universities as senior leaders and presidents. ACCU seeks to support women to meet current leadership demands and thrive in Catholic higher education executive positions.

Who should attend? 

  • Women currently in mid-level leadership roles across the college or university (Offices of Finance, Advancement, Diversity, General Counsel, Enrollment, Admissions, Alumni Affairs, Marketing/Communications, Athletics, Academics, Student Affairs, Mission & Ministry) who are considering advancing to the next senior executive position within Catholic higher education.
"I found it a challenge managing a progressive career as I started a family and also caring for aging parents. It would have been beneficial to have a professional organization that recognized these challenges and provided the opportunity to discuss them openly with peers.... Trying to maintain a healthy balance in life is crucial for a successful, fulfilling career.”

— Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at ACCU institution,
and a member of the conference planning task force

Selected presentations are available by clicking the session title in the schedule below.


 Friday, January 31, 2020  

 8:00 – 8:30 a.m.

Breakfast Available

 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Opening Prayer
Judy Fean,
Vice President for Mission, Saint Mary's College

Welcome and Introductions
Participants may be in a process of discerning a call to greater leadership or may already have a planned leadership trajectory. During this opening session, participants will have the opportunity to share their personal paths and learn about practices to help discernment to leadership in Catholic higher education. 

Alisa Macksey, Dean of Student Success and First Generation Initiative, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
Elizabeth Ortiz, Vice President of Diversity, DePaul University

 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Naming the Ground: The Catholic Higher Education Landscape
The landscape in Catholic higher education resembles broader higher education realities of financial constraints, cultural shifts, and changing student priorities. And, we face the additional challenges of the current Church leadership crisis, demographic shifts, and the role of women in the Church. This session will name the ground and also begin to identify the particular ways women leaders can uniquely respond to a greater call to leadership in Catholic higher education.

Ann McElaney-Johnson, President, Mount Saint Mary’s University, Los Angeles

 10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Coffee Break  
 10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Claiming the Ground: Responding to the Call to Leadership
Given the challenges named, this session will explore our response. How can women rise to the challenges as opportunities for renewal and transformation? Now more than ever, we need well-equipped leaders who bring new perspectives and ways of leading to ensure the success of our institutions, now and in the future.

Mary Hinton, President, College of Saint Benedict

 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

In the Company of Leaders: Lessons from 3 Women Executives in Catholic Higher Education
Meet three leaders from across the university to learn how they navigated the paths to their current positions. Hear strategies for continuing to advance in leadership.

Carolyn Head, Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer, Lewis University
Lisa Brown, Vice President and General Counsel, Georgetown University
Donelda Cook, Vice President for Student Development, Loyola University Maryland

 12:15 – 1:15 p.m.


 1:15 – 2:30 p.m.

Taking Stock
The current landscape beckons for not only highly skilled leaders, but also dispositions such as collaborative leadership, deep listening, emotional intelligence, and the ability to connect with others. This working session will take stock of where we are headed and allow time to collaborate with others to identify personal strengths and identify ways to build needed skills and deepen personal attributes needed for effective leadership in Catholic higher education. 

Nancy Dallavalle, Special Assistant to the Provost, Fairfield University

 2:30 – 3:00 p.m Break  
 3:00 – 4:30 p.m.

Finding the Right Fit
Two search consultants will help participants learn to be strategic to discover the skills they will need to advance within Catholic higher education. This session will include self-assessment, career mapping, and best practices for being intentional about developing the skills needed to lead within the particular context of a mission-based environment.

Andrea Warren Hamos, Vice President for Consulting Operations and Senior Consultant, Academic Search 
Maya Ranchod Kirkhope, Senior Consultant, Academic Search

 4:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Moving Forward
Closing and next steps

 5:30 p.m.  Optional Dinner at Local Restaurant
Join the group to continue the conversation and camaraderie. 
Please RSVP to Lorraine Sloma-Williams by December 20.  

2020 Aspiring Presidents Conference

Friday, January 31, 2020
Immediately before the 2020 ACCU Annual Meeting

All senior leaders (vice presidents, deans, and other senior executives) who have the Catholic higher education presidency in their sights are welcome to attend this pre-conference event. Veteran presidents will lead sessions of learning and fellowship to advance your understanding of the unique dimensions of Catholic identity and university mission. Presidential mentors and search consultants will help guide your journey.

Whether you have a planned trajectory toward a presidency, or you are still navigating your path, we are confident that you will leave this day empowered and inspired to serve as a president within Catholic higher education.

Part of the Leaders in Catholic Higher Education program


Selected presentations are available by clicking the session title in the schedule below.


 Friday, January 31, 2020  
 8:00 – 8:30 a.m.
Breakfast Available
 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Opening Prayer, Welcome, and Introductions

Suzanne Mellon, President, Carlow University
Don Taylor, President, Cabrini University

 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

What Is the Presidency in Catholic Higher Education Really Like?
Do you wonder what life is really like for a president in Catholic higher education? During this candid session, President Don Taylor will reveal his top 5 things to expect in the role of the president so that you can arrive to the position well-prepared.

Don Taylor, President, Cabrini University

 10:00 – 10:15 a.m. Coffee Break  
 10:15 – 11:15 a.m.

Essential Presidential Relationships: Diocesan and Sponsoring Congregation
Do you know your local bishop? Does your institution have a sponsoring religious congregation? When in the role of the president, these relationships are essential in establishing a comprehensive, mission-focused leadership approach. Experienced president and ACCU Board of Directors member Arvid Johnson will explain proven strategies for building these key connections.

Arvid Johnson, President, University of St. Francis (IL)

 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Are You Being Called to the Presidency? The Presidency as Vocational Calling
Do you wonder whether you are being called to the presidency in Catholic higher education? During this session, experienced ACCU president Tina Holland will share how and when she realized she had a vocation to the presidency, and invite you to enter your own process of discernment.

Tina Holland, President, Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University 

 12:15 – 1:30 p.m.

Lunch with Presidential Mentors and Search Consultants

Cheryl Hyatt, Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search
Matthew Kilcoyne, RH Perry & Associates  

 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.

Preparing You and Your Family for the Presidency
Assuming the position of president is an enormous transition for you, and also for your spouse and family. In many cases, a presidency will require moving to a new location. It also involves acclimatization to a new campus culture. What are some ways to prepare yourself and your family for such a transition? Hear from experienced presidents who share useful strategies for preparing for such a change, as well as pitfalls to avoid. 

Suzanne Mellon, President, Carlow University
Anne Prisco, President, Felician University
Don Taylor, President, Cabrini University

 2:30 – 2:45 p.m.


 2:45 – 3:15 p.m. 

Navigating the Board — Issues of Catholic Identity and University Mission
Veteran president Tom Flynn will explain some best practices for navigating this key presidential relationship, especially the importance of board formation with regard to mission and the role of sponsoring religious congregations.

Tom Flynn, Senior Fellow, ACCU and AGB

 3:15 – 4:00 p.m.

Is a Catholic College or University Presidency Right for Me?
What is important to you in your search for a presidency? Hear from veteran president Suzanne Mellon on which factors you may want to consider when starting your search for the right fit. 

Suzanne Mellon, President, Carlow University

 4:00 - 4:15 p.m.

Persisting Questions, Closing Reflections, and Evaluations

Suzanne Mellon, President, Carlow University
Don Taylor, President, Cabrini University

 4:15 - 5:15 p.m.

Charting Your Course: Working Session with Search Consultants
Seasoned search consultants Cheryl Hyatt and Matt Kilcoyne will spend time answering your questions and meeting with you individually (if desired) to help you chart your personal path to the presidency. They will also share tried and true tips for conducting your search, preparing for interviews, and planning campus visits. The information they offer will be invaluable for future presidential candidates.

Cheryl Hyatt, Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search 
Matthew Kilcoyne, RH Perry & Associates 



Questions? Contact Lorraine Sloma-Williams


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