Notre Dame hosts conference for executives in Catholic higher education

Author: Michael O. Garvey and Jennifer A. Monahan


Presidents and trustees of 14 Catholic institutions of higher learning met last week (Nov. 6 to 8) at the University of Notre Dame for a three-day conference on the maintenance and strengthening of their Catholic identity.

The conference, “What We Hold in Trust,” was sponsored by Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life, and hosted by Notre Dame theologian John C. Cavadini, McGrath-Cavadini Director of the institute.

The executives attending the conference discussed and heard lectures on such topics as hiring for mission, the application of canon and civil law in Catholic university life, the development and evaluation of distinctively Catholic curricula, and the indispensable role of theology in a Catholic college or university.

“Trustees of Catholic colleges and universities have a fiduciary responsibility for the Catholic character, identity, and mission of their institutions,” Cavadini said. “In order to serve effectively, they must fully understand what their responsibilities entail and develop the practical skills necessary for fulfilling them.”

Conference speakers from Notre Dame’s faculty and administration included Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.; John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president; Carolyn Y. Woo, Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business; Rev. John Coughlin, O.F.M., professor of law and concurrent professor of theology; Christian Smith, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology; and Rev. Robert E. Sullivan, associate professor of history and associate vice president for academic mission. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend gave a keynote address.

“The purpose of the conference,” noted Cavadini, “is to begin to form trustees in the areas around Catholic identity. Our role is not to teach other universities how to be like the University of Notre Dame. Rather, we hope to provide a forum for discussion among the unique and varied institutions that share our Catholic identity and mission, so that we might consider together the themes and issues that are common to each of our campuses and come to a better understanding of how we might best fulfill our distinctive institutional missions.”

Contact: John C. Cavadini, 574-631-5510

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey and Jennifer A. Monahan at on November 17, 2011.