Significant Grant to Fund New CST Educational Program

Catholic Distance University (CDU) was awarded a grant of $879,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. in support of a significant new educational effort that the university is developing.

Given its mission to educate the Catholic leaders of tomorrow, CDU is designing and launching a first of its kind higher education curriculum in Catholic Social Teaching (CST). The grant will fund a new bilingual English-Spanish AA degree program designed for Hispanic Catholics, who will make up the majority of the population of Catholics in the coming years, and a graduate certificate program. These new, affordable online offerings in CST will provide education to priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers as they seek to serve their faith communities. For this reason, CDU also envisions the programs as a springboard to greater collaboration with Catholic dioceses.

CDU Board Chair Steve Pryor said, “Catholic Social Teaching is that body of teaching addressing human rights and responsibilities in society—beginning with the dignity of the human person and promotion of the family and extending to the global family—flowing from Jesus Christ’s ‘Great Commandment’ to love God, and to love one another as He has loved us.”

While the Catholic Church has a broad and deep teaching regarding social problems, Catholic pastoral leaders feel insufficiently knowledgeable when faced with the very real challenges of immigration, racism, poverty, and family breakdown.

Bishop Robert Barron, a great proponent of CST, according to Mr. Pryor, noted at a recent CDU gala dinner, “It (CST) is essential to the new evangelization and provides a lens through which to view the issues of our time more clearly.”  Continuing in his remarks, the bishop added that Catholic social teaching is “not just for us, it’s for the whole world. We need to propagate it, we need to teach it. We need to announce it from the rooftops.’”

CDU president Dr. Marianne Evans Mount affirms, “The University is well positioned to develop a new innovative CST curriculum to extend our reach to a growing underserved yet vital body of future Church leadership in Hispanic Catholics as well as to ordained and lay ministers.”

According to Dr. Mount, CDU’s new program is designed to do just that, by providing the clergy and laity the wisdom and insights needed to effectively address these issues at their local parish and ministry level.  There is great need in the Hispanic community to develop well-educated leaders for the Church of the 21st century. Understanding this need, CDU’s CST-focused, two-year online AA degree will help Hispanic Catholics achieve post-secondary education and provide a pipeline for future entry into seminaries, lay ecclesial ministries, and further academic study.

Recognizing the impact this new program could have on society both today and long into the future, The Lilly Endowment Pathway for Tomorrow Initiative awarded CDU the grant to fully launch the initiative.  This program from CDU speaks to the heart and focus of Lilly’s Endowment Pathways for Tomorrow Initiative: to prioritize and respond to the most pressing challenges and prepare pastoral leaders for Christian congregations both now and into the future.

President Interviewed on Catholic Forum

Dr. Marianne Evans Mount was interviewed on Relevant Radio’s Catholic Forum show to discuss CDU and the Year of St. Joseph. Click here to listen to the show.

President Interviewed on Iowa Catholic Radio

On January 28, 2021, President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount appeared on “Jon Leonetti in the Morning” to discuss CDU and the Year of St. Joseph. Click here to listen to the show.

ATS GRANTS ACCREDITATION TO GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

On June 2, 2020, the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) voted to accredit Catholic Distance University’s Graduate School of Theology for an initial period of 7 years. Founded in 1918, ATS accredits more than 270 graduate schools of theology and most Catholic seminaries in the United States and Canada. CDU is the first exclusively online Catholic university without campus-based programs to achieve ATS accreditation.

University Chancellor Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio said, “The Catholic Distance University Community and its Board of Trustees rejoice in the ATS accreditation for the next seven years. This vote of confidence for our Graduate School of Theology is a tribute to very diligent work and academic excellence, as well as a stimulus for increased effort and an ever deeper commitment to faithful theological education.” Archbishop Broglio heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount said, “This accomplishment is a gift to the CDU Community and to all who will come to CDU in the future. I thank ATS for its commitment to accreditation standards that objectively evaluate schools based on their mission and academic outcomes, not the modality of educational delivery. CDU is honored to join so many highly respected Catholic seminaries and Christian theological institutions in Canada and the United States. We look forward to joining a community of scholars who will help to enhance our work and motivate us even more to make Jesus Christ more present today through our mission to communicate the mind and heart of the Church in a digital world.” Dr. Mount has been with CDU since 1983 and has served as president since 2008.

The Graduate School of Theology provides a transformative learning experience in the digital space and develops leaders and teachers for the new evangelization in the 21st century. Its two degree programs and three certificate programs are offered completely online. Ninety percent of Graduate School of Theology alumni serve the Church in some ministry, including as youth ministers, directors of religious education, catechists, school teachers, liturgy directors, professors of theology, parish administrators, religious sisters, and diocesan staff. Others use their education to work in the public, non-profit, or private sectors in a variety of fields including education, healthcare, and business.

Collectively, ATS member schools enroll approximately 74,500 students and employ more than 7,200 faculty and administrators. The mission of ATS is to promote the improvement and enhancement of theological schools to the benefit of communities of faith and the broader public. Member schools are committed to the following shared values: diversity, quality and improvement, collegiality, and leadership.

CDU Partners with Shepherd University

On July 23, 2019, Catholic Distance University signed a Memorandum of Understanding and an articulation agreement with Shepherd University, a state university in West Virginia. The agreement allows students who earn CDU’s AA degree in the Liberal Arts with a Concentration in Catholic Studies to continue on at Shepherd University to earn a Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degree. The documents were signed by CDU President Dr. Marianne Evans Mount and Shepherd University Provost Dr. Scott Beard. Also in attendance from Shepherd University were Dr. Virginia Hicks, assistant provost for academic community outreach, and Beth Thomas, RBA program coordinator.

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