Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Developing and Sustaining Leaders for Catholic Schools: A Summary of the Conference Proceedings of the Second Catholic Higher Education Collaborative Conference

Academic journal article Journal of Catholic Education

Developing and Sustaining Leaders for Catholic Schools: A Summary of the Conference Proceedings of the Second Catholic Higher Education Collaborative Conference

Article excerpt

On October 1-3, 2009, Loyola University Chicago's Center for Catholic School Effectiveness (CCSE) and School of Education hosted the second in a series of six planned Catholic Higher Education Collaborative Conferences (CHEC) entitled, "Developing and Sustaining Leaders for Catholic Schools: How Can Catholic Higher Education Help?" CHEC began as a group of nine Catholic colleges and universities that came together in an informal partnership in October 2007 to explore and develop collaborative initiatives to support Catholic elementary and secondary schools, setting a schedule of conferences sponsored by the initial group of institutions, including Alverno College, Boston College, the Catholic University of America, Fordham University, Loyola Marymount University, Loyola University Chicago, Marquette University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of San Francisco.

Each CHEC conference has a different focus related to key issues relevant to the future of Catholic schools: immigrant Church, leadership, academic excellence, Catholic identity, governance, and accessibility/affordability. The purpose of each of these conferences is to explore ideas and to offer concrete steps for Catholic institutions of higher education to collaborate in supporting Catholic elementary and secondary schools in the United States.

For the Loyola University Chicago (LUC) conference, a mix of stakeholders, including representatives from institutions of higher education involved in the support of Catholic schools, pre-kindergarten to secondary education practitioners, superintendents, leaders from religious congregations, and members of the philanthropic community were invited to address the central question of the conference: How can Catholic higher education assist in developing and supporting leaders for Catholic schools? In addressing this central question, participants of the conference were asked to consider a number of ancillary questions, including the following:

* Who are Catholic schools for in 21st-century United States?

* Who should lead Catholic schools?

* How can we close gaps that exist between leadership programs and on-the-ground knowledge/skills required to lead effective Catholic schools?

* What can research contribute to "telling the story" and improving practice?

* How can Catholic institutions of higher education collaborate and assist?

Overall, there were 72 conference attendees representing 19 states and the District of Columbia. Of these, 40 participants were from higher education representing 25 different institutions, 10 participants were superintendents or associate superintendents, 6 participants were representatives from religious congregations/networks, 9 participants were practitioners in pre-K-12 schools, 2 participants were sponsored funders, and 3 participants were from the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

The anticipated result of this conference was to identify explicit actions to foster collaboration among Catholic institutions of higher education, diocesan offices of education, the NCEA, pre-K-12 practitioners, networks and religious congregations, sponsors and funders, and bishops. Through these collaborations, new avenues of support can be discovered and fostered with the goal of assisting Catholic elementary and secondary schools.

Conference Process

This working conference was structured around four main presentations, each addressing an aspect of the conference theme. Upon the conclusion of each session, conference participants were invited to respond and explore the themes that were presented in each session. Each "table conversation" had an essential question, an outcome, and a product that guided the work of each group. A "table facilitator," who was selected prior to the beginning of the conference, facilitated the table conversations. These table facilitators were selected from various institutions of higher education. …

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