News & Press

November 19, 2018 - ACCU Recognizes Outstanding Contributors to Catholic Higher Education

Washington, DC— At the opening of its annual conference on February 2, 2019, in Washington, DC, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) will present three awards that honor individuals and organizations that have made distinctive efforts to advance Catholic higher education.

The association’s highest honor is its Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to Catholic higher education. In 2019, the award will be presented to Rev. Jonathan DeFelice, OSB, president emeritus of Saint Anselm College and recently named Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese of Boston. President of that institution for 24 years, Father Jonathan lived his commitment to Catholic education and civic engagement through active involvement in academic, business, and nonprofit organizations.

“If you look at Father Jonathan’s career, everything he’s done has really come out of a passion and a courage to do things to transform how we think about higher education, how we think about Catholic higher education,” commented Joanne Pietrini Smith, alumna and former board chair of Saint Anselm College.

Steven R. DiSalvo, current president of Saint Anselm, echoed Smith’s sentiment, describing DeFelice as “mild mannered, yet direct and impactful and passionate. I wish there were more Father Jonathans in the world.”

Sister Thomas Welder, OSB, president emerita of the University of Mary, met Father Jonathan through the Association of Benedictine Colleges and Universities, of which he was a founder. Within that group, Father Jonathan proposed that they start talking deeply about what the Benedictine character of their institutions meant. “It was his life as a monk and his lifetime of service that made the difference,” Sister Thomas explained. “It was that modeling that inspired us and gave us the trust in each other to go forward.”

For his part, DeFelice talks about his lifetime of service with humility and with a focus on the greater good. “We as educational institutions have the chance to do something good for our world,” he said. “It’s really important that we seize that opportunity today, that we continue on the path that we have been on, to be a transformative influence both for our Church and for society.”

ACCU also will present its Monika K. Hellwig Award for Outstanding Contributions to Catholic Intellectual Life next February. The recipient, Sister Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, is described alternately as a force of nature, a woman of incredible hope, and the Energizer Bunny.

Sister Angela Ann is the director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives and professor of Religious Studies at the University of Dayton (UD). She has long been an innovative communicator on behalf of the Church, having worked to establish the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation, an effort that continues today under Zukowski’s direction.

“In 1995, Brother Ray Fitz, who was the president of the University of Dayton at that time, encouraged the institute to begin looking at distance learning,” Sister Angela explained. “Through the support of the president, the university administration, and a grant, we began piloting how we could possibly use the Internet for adult faith formation.”

Susan M. Ferguson, executive director of UD’s Center for Catholic Education, said of Sister Angela Ann, “She uses her creativity and her passion to create religious education programming that helps people learn about the faith, but also really helps them to live their faith.”

Lastly, ACCU will bestow its Presidents’ Distinguished Service Award to the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation. This is the first time that the award will be presented to a foundation and the 2019 naming recognizes the organization’s history of philanthropic support for Catholic higher education.

Nominated jointly by presidents at Newman University, the University of Notre Dame, St. Catherine University, and the University of St. Thomas (MN), the foundation was founded in 1941. By 2014, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation had granted more than $117 million to Catholic parishes, Catholic schools, Catholic hospitals, Congregations of Sisters, and Catholic colleges and universities.

“The I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation has contributed to every major initiative at Newman University since” its first grant in 1965, noted Newman President Noreen Carrocci. “It is fair to say that the Foundation and the O’Shaughnessy family have contributed nearly $8 million to Newman University over the years. Only our sponsors, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, have contributed more.”