Presidential Conversations

Presidential Conversations

ACCU offers periodic small group discussions among member presidents to allow candid and meaningful exchange on critical and timely issues in Catholic higher education. Presidential Conversations take place via the phone and generally last for one hour, so that participants can connect and learn from the comfort of their office.

Next event: "Mission-Centered Leadership in Today's Climate," March 7, 2017, 4:00 pm (Eastern time)

ACCU invites member presidents to join an exclusive conversation to discuss the challenges of leadership in today's politically charged environment. This next installment of the ACCU Presidential Conversations series will take place on March 7 at 4:00 pm (Eastern time). Bring your questions, challenges, and success stories to this one-hour teleconference. 

This conversation is open to presidents of ACCU member institutions only. To RSVP, contact before March 3.

Previous Presidential Conversations:

"Improving Sponsorship Covenants: A Path to Better Relationships" 

Increasing lay leadership and declining religious can sometimes complicate decision making among trustees, presidents, and religious communities. ACCU invites you to join your presidential colleagues to discuss navigating these relationships with prudent choices and wise strategies.

When: Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm (ET)

Facilitator(s): Mary Pat Seurkamp, president emerita, Notre Dame of Maryland University; George Martin, president, St. Edward's University

Highlights from the Conversation:

  1. Building strong relationships with the sponsoring religious congregation and their leadership is key, including both formal meetings and informal social opportunities.  Building a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship shows that both lay and religious leadership are dedicated to the Catholic identity and university mission.  With strong relationships, resolving any questions that arise around governance structure, property ownership, or other tensions becomes simpler.
  2. A transfer of knowledge, history, and understanding of culture and values from the religious congregation to lay college leadership is critical in carrying forward the charism mission.  One example of doing this is the Holy Cross Institute, which was established to address what it means to be Holy Cross in the 21st century. These training opportunities continue the tradition of conversation that happened naturally among the religious congregation.  The religious congregation should invest in the lay college administrators as charism and mission leaders.
  3. There are many possible governance structures that can be set up with the founding religious congregation, and many possible ways that disputes over property can be resolved.  It is important to engage a Canon lawyer who is able to listen to the needs of the college and understands higher education culture.  Other Catholic college or university presidents who have addressed similar questions can also be a resource as questions arise.  Putting in place a system that demonstrates that the college continues to carry out the mission and lives the charism values is critical.

Required reading:


Presidential Conversations began in spring 2014, with two sessions discussing Pope Francis and the implications of his papacy for higher education. The discussions generated insights on the profound effect the pope is having on the Church and Catholic colleges and universities.

Other discussions have addressed:

We want your input and involvement:



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