Search for CDU’s Next President Underway

Earlier this year, Dr. Marianne Evans Mount informed the CDU Board of Trustees of her desire to retire as President of CDU as soon as her successor can be recruited and engaged. A Presidential Search Committee, appointed by the CDU Board of Trustees and representing all constituencies of the university, has selected executive search firm Hyatt-Fennell to manage the search process under the guidance of the Committee. Hyatt-Fennell was chosen from a field of highly regarded search firms because of its expertise in serving small- to medium-sized faith-based institutions and deep connections across the Catholic higher education community.

President Mount has served CDU tirelessly since 1983. Under her leadership, CDU has grown from a catechetical institute with a staff of two offering paper correspondence courses to the world’s only exclusively online, fully accredited Catholic university. She served as Education Director from 1983 to 1985, Executive Director from 1985 to 1996, Vice President from 1997 to 2008, and as President since 2008 after earning her PhD. Marianne’s zeal for CDU’s mission, in partnership with dedicated employees, have brought CDU to an inflection point, with unprecedented opportunities to enhance the value of a CDU degree and the contributions of our graduates to the Church. The enhanced value will be created by the university’s recent HLC and ATS accreditations, innovations in curricula enabled by grant opportunities, enrollment growth, and new academic partnerships.

Hyatt-Fennell’s two founding partners, Cheryl Hyatt and Sister (Dr.) Marylouise Fennell, will be leading the search, supported by Partner Dr. Robert Head, a former university President with 40 years of leadership experience. They will conduct listening sessions with individual Trustees in early August and with faculty, staff, administrators, and students during the weeks of August 8 and August 15. Our goal is to have the newly appointed president begin work in early 2023.

This is an exciting period of challenges and opportunities to advance CDU’s mission by playing a larger role in Catholic higher education in service to the Church. I will keep our community apprised of the progress achieved by the Search Committee at key junctures in the search process.

Thank you for all you do to advance the mission of Catholic Distance University. Your contributions are deeply appreciated.–Steve Pryor, Chairman Board of Trustees

Online Seminar Offered in August: Making the Case for Christ

Making the Case for Christ, offered August 8–29, 2022, will help Catholics strengthen their faith and develop objective and persuasive reasons for belief, which are valuable for sharing with those who may doubt the historical reality, divinity, or resurrection of Jesus. This continuing education seminar will help attendees better perform the Spiritual Works of Mercy to “counsel the doubtful” and “instruct the uninformed.” Making the Case for Christ is one of six online Apologetics seminars offered. Students who complete all six will earn a Non-Credit Basic Certificate in Apologetics.

The course instructor, Steven R. Hemler, is President of the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America (CAINA). He is author of a trilogy of apologetics books, The Reality of God: The Layman’s Guide to Scientific Evidence for the CreatorSearch No More: The Keys to Truth and Happiness, and Catholic Stories of Faith and Hope: How God Brings Good Out of Suffering.

Learn more and enroll today at

Higher Learning Commission Accredits CDU

On June 23, 2022, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) granted initial accreditation to Catholic Distance University for its undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs.
Accreditation by the HLC provides assurance that an institution meets high standards in all aspects of educational quality, institutional capabilities, and governance, with a commitment to continuous improvement. HLC is the largest of six historically regional accreditors in the United States recognized by the Department of Education to accredit the nation’s institutions of higher education. In response to new regulations from the Department of Education, several of the historically regional accreditors have recently eliminated their geographic boundaries, expanding their accreditation service area to the entire United States.

President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount, who has served as president since 2008, lauded the landmark accomplishment. “Catholic Distance University celebrates with joy our welcome as an accredited member of the Higher Learning Commission and the broader higher education community of accredited schools. The hard work and adherence to high academic accrediting standards and practices have strengthened CDU and given further assurance to our students and graduates of the value of their educational credentials. We look forward to the witness of their service to the Catholic Church and the world, as they strive to serve the common good and especially the underserved.”

“CDU is now recognized with the same accreditation as many of the most prestigious brick and mortar universities in the U.S.,” said Board Chairman Steve Pryor. “This major milestone marks the beginning of the next stage of CDU’s mission: to communicate the mind and heart of the Church to a wider audience. As trustee Sr. Mary Brendon Zajac observed, this should be viewed ‘…as a Commencement rather than a Graduation….the real work is just beginning.’”

University Chancellor Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, said, “The news that the Higher Learning Commission has accredited Catholic Distance University offers a significant recognition to the commitment of the CDU community to academic excellence. I hope that this decision will be an impetus for the growth of the university and one more sign of its role in forming committed scholars especially in the theological sciences.”

Students will benefit in newfound ways from HLC accreditation, which ensures a quality of education that the general public has the right to expect and that the educational community recognizes widely.

Fall Registration Is Underway!

Enrollment in fall classes is underway at Catholic Distance University, which is waiving the application fee through the end of 2022 to give students a break during these tough economic times. Students appreciate CDU’s 8-week-long online courses, affordable tuition, and faithfully Catholic focus. The university is also known for its exceptional faculty, personalized approach to education, and small class sizes.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency list, CDU falls in the lowest 10% for tuition rates among 4-year not-for-profit universities nationwide.

Once admitted, students can begin classes in either the Fall I term, which starts on August 22nd, or the Fall II term, which begins on October 24th.

 Because all of CDU’s programs offered online, students living at home have no room and board costs to pay, and many choose to work part-time while attending. All of these factors help CDU students earn their degrees while avoiding the debt that has become so common in higher education today. Because classes have no set meeting times, students can manage work and family responsibilities while completing coursework at times that fit their schedules.

 Unlike many universities, CDU allows students to begin taking courses part-time. Students may choose to begin with one or two classes. Fall is the perfect time to begin or continue earning college credits! For more information, or to apply for free and enroll in the fall terms, click the “Apply Now” button at the top of the page or contact admissions director Todd Nolan at


Double Graduate Shares God’s Love through Missionary Work

Emily Rybak, who is an apostolate of the missionaries of the Servant Sisters, earned both her AA and BA degrees at CDU and has been accepted into the MA in Theology program. “Every course formed my intellect in a particular way in which my heart was then able to connect the paradoxical reality of coming to know Christ more fully while simultaneously growing in awe of the mystery He is,” she says. “All of the courses and  faculty members were excellent and truly work to engage the students in cultivating a  rich and vibrant understanding of academics in light of the beauty of the Church.”

Emily says that her education has prepared her in numerous ways for her work, “but the focal point is Christ. CDU truly emphasizes that in the midst of science, philosophy,  literature, logic, idiomatics, history, morality, theology, soteriorology, and so forth, Christ is the center of it all. If Christ is the center of everything I pursue, including academics, then I can rest assured that my work will bear good, holy fruit.”

Emily was prompted to do missionary work with the Servant Sisters after an experience she had before the Blessed Sacrament nearly four years ago. She was in adoration one day and had a vivid and powerful desire to encounter Christ more fully and, in turn, love Him better. “When I expressed this to The Lord and placed this desire in His hands, He

opened the eyes of my heart in a particular way, and in doing so, I began to see Him all  the more in the individuals I would encounter everyday,” she says. “I fell in love with His presence in others and recognized the immense ways in which He was inviting me to  love Him in others.”

Emily’s work is wide ranging. She says, “I have the immense privilege of serving our brothers and sisters in Christ on various levels, such as in the pro-life field, substance  abuse recovery centers, teaching religious education, retreats and formation meetings focused on the youth, and media platforms (such as the Promethean Perspective Podcast) that engage families to embrace the gift of the domestic church, as well as numerous other opportunities to console, strengthen, and tend to the Body of Christ.”

As in all things, there are always challenges, but when challenges are met with love, they can become great joys. “The poverty of a missionary life produces the gift of  interior freedom, the freedom to follow Christ when He calls,” Emily explains. “The joy of laying one’s life down out of love for God and neighbor produces a peace that is never based upon the daily circumstances but on how Christ is inviting us to trust Him in the midst of it all.”

She sees the study of theology as a vibrant experience of appreciating truth, goodness, and beauty all bound together. “I learned all the more who I was, but moreover, who I am in light of who God is. There is nothing more good, true, or beautiful that I could do with my life than to share the power of God’s love with the world or maybe even just one lost soul. We were made for greater things, not grander but greater, and often those things come by way of a humble joyful soul focused on Christ,” Emily says.

Emily, one of six siblings, was born and raised on a farm in the valley of the Blue Ridge  Mountain Range on the east coast. “The daily commitment of farm work and the  consistency of the wholesome lifestyle therein focuses and disciplines you in numerous ways, particularly because you recognize you are part of something larger, a team effort,” she says. “This ‘farmer strong’ mentality applies to many areas of life and was a great gift that I received from my childhood. My parents did an excellent job in cultivating a flourishing domestic church, and having this consistency as a youth was crucial to my formation. Consistency in that which is virtuous is key for holiness and is a golden thread that teaches you to embrace sanctity day by day, moment by moment, out of love for Christ.”

She looks forward to earning her MA degree in Theology. “This privilege will only unlock more doors through which I can walk and serve Him all the more!” Emily says.

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