Catholic Distance University is hosting a comprehensive evaluation visit for initial accreditation by the ATS Commission on Accrediting from March 16 to 19, 2020. The purpose of this visit is to verify that the school meets all applicable Commission Standards of Accreditation.* Comments regarding how well the school meets those standards and/or demonstrates educational quality may be sent to the ATS Director of Commission Information Services (email@example.com or 412-788-6505) at least two weeks before the visit. Comments may also be sent to Mary Kate White, Director of Communications (firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-724-5000, ext. 717). All comments will be shared with the onsite evaluation committee.
SCRPT 662 The Synoptic Gospels has been updated with newly written lectures, audio lectures, and online discussions. This course, taught by Father John Worgul, offers an in-depth study of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that present the life, Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus. The course also explores the differences in these three gospels. CDU is committed to continuously improving curriculum for its students.
In January, faculty member Dr. Marie Nuar returned from Rome to begin working at CDU full time as faculty chair, a role that combines teaching and administrative responsibilities. Dr. Nuar has spent over 11 years overseas, living mostly in Rome and Cairo and Old City Jerusalem. She holds a doctorate in Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome, an MA in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University of Steubenville, an MA in Jewish Studies from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and an STL in Missiology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Dr. Nuar also has a license in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome and is proficient in Arabic.
“I really like the interaction and sharing what I have learned with students. To me, learning information without sharing it is like a lake that has an inflow but no outflow. It becomes stagnant and in the extreme, dead, like the Dead Sea,”
Dr. Nuar taught as an adjunct professor of theology at St. John’s University, Rome campus and as an adjunct professor for The Catholic University of America’s Rome campus. She also enjoyed working as a guide for the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica. With expertise in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, she says, “the details can make a large difference. For instance, all three religions would posit that the world and humans are created by a benevolent God, that there are objective standards that he puts forth for what is right and wrong, that human beings have freedom to follow these standards or not, but that they will be judged accordingly.”
“The difference lies in Christianity’s belief in the Incarnation,” she explains. “’The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that He, made man, might make men gods” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.) She adds, “And that makes all the difference.”
Four faculty members, Dr. Peter Brown, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Dr. James Kruggel, and Prof. Steven Najera, traveled to lovely San Diego, California, to attend the annual joint conference of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion. The conference provided an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues, friends, and peers from other universities and to hear presentations from professors all around the world on the latest developments in Biblical and theological scholarship.
To facilitate communications between students, faculty, and alumni, CDU is adding Pronto, an app that works with Canvas, to move discussion forums directly to smartphones. Pronto is an interactive application that can function like text messages, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Periscope live-streaming all rolled into one.
CDU students will soon also be able to form their own interactive groups for focused communication in particular areas of interest.
Congratulations to long-time Greek and Latin professor Dr. Josh Hood for being named a partial fellow in the Digital Humanities at Beth Mardutho: The Syriac Institute for the upcoming semester. Dr. Hood received the fellowship for his excellence in teaching ancient languages and skill in teaching online. Digital Humanities is a long-running, many faceted project to use modern computing, databases, and interactive software to improve and modernize teaching and research in humanities and humanities- related fields including theology, philosophy, and ancient languages.
According to Online Schools Report released in January 2020, online education is getting bigger and better—and giving traditional college campuses a run for their money. Leading education researchers have predicted that online education will surpass traditional learning within a decade.
In addition, theology is a popular online degree. There are over 50 bachelor’s and 50 master’s degrees offered online. Online Schools Report ranked the top MA theology degrees available today using six data points to determine the quality of the online program. Three data points focus on the quality of the school, and three focus on the quality of the individual program. OSR included these programs in the ranking because their students graduate with minimal debt and have a great support system while in school. These schools are dedicated to delivering a quality theology degree online.
Out of all the accredited Christian theology schools, CDU’s MA Theology degree ranked #11. CDU is the second top Catholic theology program offered online. CDU is ranked before University of Dallas (#17), Liberty University (#19), St. Joseph’s College of Maine (#23), and Franciscan University of Steubenville (#31).
Out of all the accredited Christian theology schools, CDU’s MA Theology degree ranked #11.
CDU is the second top Catholic theology program offered online.
The start of a new year should begin with hearts full of gratitude for the many graces of the previous year that have helped build great hope for our dreams in the new year. Our dreams for 2020 began with a move January 15 to a larger campus in Charles Town to accommodate a growing staff and services to a growing student body. One of the most significant additions is a new chapel and a chaplain assigned to CDU from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, Father Cody Ford, who will offer Mass for the staff and help to strengthen our identity as a Catholic university. For those of us who have worked at CDU for many years, it was a welcome sight to unveil the altar donated by Bishop Welsh from the Diocese of Allentown in 1994 and the tabernacle donated by the Vice-rector of Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, in 1995.
As many of our students know, the university will host evaluators in March for full programmatic accreditation in theology by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and evaluators from the Higher Learning Commission, our regional accreditor in Chicago, for full regional accreditation in April. We have been working toward these goals for five years while continuing to maintain the accreditation standards of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, our long- time national accreditor since 1986. Students and alumni will participate in these upcoming visits to help ensure accreditors of the quality of a CDU education that meets all the standards of each accreditor and fulfills a beautiful mission that is part of the new evangelization. Our students inspire us to achieve these credentials and confirm their historic accomplishments.
These visits have a historical dimension that has been a driving force among the CDU community, especially the leadership of the Board of Trustees. CDU is the only independent, nonprofit Catholic university that was founded to do distance education exclusively in 1983 and continues that tradition through our fully online programs today.
It reminds me of a compliment by Archbishop Christophe Pierre (Papal Nuncio) who reminded us last year at the 2019 Gala that CDU has broken new ground in education by using technology exclusively for 36 years to reach the underserved with theological education and catechetical formation. As he said, we cannot continue to do things the way we have always done them.
We are praying that 2020 will be the year that CDU breaks new ground as a full regionally and programmatically accredited Catholic university serving students globally, exclusively, and fully online. Please join us with your prayers and continuing resources to help fulfill this dream for CDU and for the Church.
On July 23rd 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. Shepherd University’s RBA program was designed to help students work around life’s challenges to earn a bachelor’s degree. CDU expects the program to be particularly attractive to Catholic students in West Virginia, who may choose to earn CDU’s online AA degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Catholic
Studies to save money while living at home and to become better grounded in the faith before heading off to Shepherd University to earn a Bachelor’s degree. At just $305 per credit hour, CDU’s AA degree is an affordable option.
“We are excited about the opportunities for our students,” said Dr. Marianne Evans Mount, “and continuing opportunities for our faculty to work together and explore ways of expanding our curriculum. We are thrilled to be working with a state university like Shepherd University.”
CDU’s prison ministry program has engaged more than 100,000 prisoners in the past 17 months through digital tablet courses available in 134 prisons around the country. CDU now offers 16 courses in English and 6 courses in Spanish. The most popular courses in English are Christian Prayer and The Gospel of St. Matthew and the top courses in Spanish are The Profession of Faith and Introduction to Scripture and the Gospel. Thanks to your donations, we are able to provide courses to incarcerated students without charge.
Paper-based correspondence courses are also in demand. Serving an average of 175 courses per year by mail, CDU is embarking on a major program to update all of its academic correspondence courses to serve this growing population, enabling incarcerated students to earn degrees and certificates while behind bars.
We thank The John C. Fricano Foundation for recently awarding a prison ministry program grant. Your prayers and support make a measureable impact in the lives of many of the underserved. If you are interested in supporting our prison ministry program, give us a call, tell a friend, and keep us in your prayers.