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The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU)

In a similar quest for community and support, the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities (ACCU) was founded in 1899 by representatives from 54 U.S. American Catholic higher education institutions to serve as the “collective voice” of Catholic higher education in America. The organization currently represents 247 degree-granting Catholic post-secondary institutions that serve roughly 760,000 students (ACCU, n.d.-a). The mission of the ACCU is to “promote the Catholic identity and mission of its member institutions so that all associated with Catholic higher education can contribute to the greater good of the world, and the church” (ACCU, 2018, p. 2).

Although not as diverse a cohort as the CCCU in terms of denominations, the ACCU does represent variously sized and located institutions that share a unified adherence to Catholic mission and identity. The religious orders with the strongest representation in the Association are: Benedictine, Dominican, Franciscan, Holy Cross, Jesuit, Lasallian, Mercy, Sisters of Charity, and Sisters of Saint Joseph (ACCU, n.d.-c). Member institutions must be not-for-profit colleges and universities whose missions are rooted in Catholic identity as verified by “credible” sources such as the Vatican Index or Kenedy Directory (ACCU, n.d.-d). In order to determine eligibility, institutions must be viewed and recognized as explicitly Catholic, per the Vatican’s standards, which require that the institution “gives proof of being rigorously serious as a member of the international community of knowledge and expresses its Catholic identity through an explicit link with the church at both local and universal levels” (United States Catholic Conference, Inc., 2000, para. 12). In other words, member institutions are required to commit to an authentically Catholic campus culture, where a structured expression of the Catholic mission is evident, and all programs, policies, and procedures are connected to “the evangelizing mission of the church” (John Paul, 1990, p. 13).

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