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Catholic Distance University

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We Welcome New Team Members

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 11:32 AM

Dr. Elizabeth Shaw was named associate dean of accreditation. She currently teaches philosophy and is also associate editor of the quarterly journal The Review of Metaphysics.

Cynthia Stalcup, a 2020 honors graduate of CDU’s MA in Theology and Educational Ministry program, joined the staff as catechetical subject specialist and Student Life coordinator. Stalcup has been active in parish youth ministry since 1992 in the Diocese of Arlington. She currently serves as a catechist at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn, Virginia, and is also CDU’s Outstanding Graduate of the Year.

Stephanie Garrett is our new librarian. With more than 30 years of business, development, and leadership experience, she will engage and support students while growing the digital library. She previously served as executive director of Tenn-share, a Tennessee library consortium in Nashville. Garrett has a Master
of Science degree in Information Sciences from the University of Tennessee and also earned a BA in Theology from Aquinas College in Nashville, where she graduated with honors.

Dr. Charles Wasaff Retires from Board of Trustees

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 11:20 AM

A retirement celebration for Dr. Charles R. Wasaff was held on June 10th and hosted by the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington. Dr. Wasaff, a trustee since 2012 and chairman from October 2017 until March 15th, was honored for his strategic leadership. As the first elected lay chairman of the Board of Trustees, he led CDU through rigorous accreditation processes, and accreditation with ATS was granted under his tenure.

By developing a powerful board and instituting an advisory board, he assembled a team that rivals those of the most prestigious universities and positioned CDU for future growth. Under Dr. Wasaff’s leadership, CDU developed a new MA degree program in Theology and Educational Ministry and a Catechetical Coordinator Certificate program. He oversaw articulation agreements with American Public University System and Shepherd University and encouraged CDU to partner with the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

Reflecting the love of Christ, he recognized that we have the tools and expertise to educate not only those who serve but also the underserved. This vision gave rise to CDU’s Mission Diocese Scholars program, which enables areas without local Catholic universities to employ CDU graduates to evangelize and inspire the peripheries. He also initiated CDU’s digital prison ministry program. Jesus says, “you will know them by their fruits.” We are grateful to Dr. Wasaff for the bountiful harvest he created for CDU.

New Board Members

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 10:59 AM

CDU welcomes Brian Maher to the Board of Trustees. After a 33-year career with the Exxon Corporation and post-merger ExxonMobil, Maher’s vast executive-level financial management experience will benefit CDU. Maher is an honors business graduate of Dartmouth College and received an M.A. in International Economics from The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy. Maher serves on multiple boards and lives in Naples, Florida, and Basking Ridge, New Jersey, with his wife Shelley.

We welcome Michael Miotto to the Board of Trustees. He is an innovative IT executive with state-of-the-art experience in multiple industries, including higher education. Most recently, he led Ford Motor Company through the Industry 4.0 revolution by enabling industrial IoT, cloud computing, virtual/augmented reality, and artificial intelligence fueled by big data and analytics. He has also served as
CIO at American Public University System and Credit Acceptance Corporation
and CTO at e-Chemicals and MRM Digital Ad Agency. We look forward to benefiting from his extensive expertise to keep CDU on the cutting edge of technology.

Our Sisters Will Be Missed

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 10:43 AM

After nearly 20 years as Dean of Catechetical Programs, Sister Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, SND, has returned to the Sisters of Notre Dame in Chardon, Ohio, for a well-deserved retirement. She also successfully led accreditation efforts and has left a legacy of joy.

Sister Rebecca Abel, theological librarian since 2015, retired recently as well. The online library blossomed under her direction, and she showed great devotion to serving students. We wish her a blessed retirement with the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Indiana.

Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, SND, DMin, Assistant Academic Dean at St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology, retired from the Board of Trustees in June. Her experience in accreditation greatly benefitted CDU, and we are grateful for her selfless hard work.

Online Open House Webinar Offered

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 10:39 AM

On Tuesday, August 17th, CDU held its first Live Zoom Open House for prospective students. The event offered an opportunity to learn about CDU’s programs, courses, and what sets CDU apart from other online universities from admissions director Todd Nolan, dean Dr. Pete Brown, faculty chair Dr. Marie Nuar, Professor Chris Padgett, and Student Life director Mary McKay.

Q&A sessions were held in two breakouts sessions for the graduate and undergraduate programs, and prospective students used the chat feature to introduce themselves. This live opportunity to interact with prospective students was successful and will now be offered three times per year.

New Five-Term Academic Calendar Adopted

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 10:19 AM

Beginning with the 2021-22 academic year, five terms will be offered instead of six, which will allow for more breaks between terms and several recesses throughout the year, including one during Holy Week. This change was made in response to student feedback indicating a desire for final exam periods that do not extend into the next term and greater accommodation for the many students who assist with sacramental and liturgical preparation just before Easter. Now, just one summer term will be offered rather than two.

Preparing the Incarcerated for Re-Entry

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 10:16 AM

Drawing upon tremendous success in working with local ex-offenders, Gatekeepers—a nonprofit based in Hagerstown, Maryland—is producing a video series that will take their “Business of Living” re-entry program into state and federal prisons.

The 14-part series prepares the incarcerated for reentry into society with step-by-step instruction. This innovative program is being digitally reproduced and distributed by CDU’s digital prison ministry team in partnership with the Order of Malta Federal Association’s prison committee and will be offered online in prisons this Fall.

CDU’s educational outreach to the incarcerated, which began 38 years ago, continues to be strong with the loving support of Marguerite Trainor. Serving prisoners with Catholic courses has a profound impact on lives as exemplified in recent notes from students.

“These few words are to express my thanks for all your work and assistance with my religious education. May God continue to bless you and the ministry... On May 5, 2021, I was officially received into the Order of Preachers... I am expected to make my life promise in about one more year... Becoming a Dominican and working for God has been the best thing that has happened in my life!”—Mr. Harold R., O.P.

“Your institution is the center of my life. You have brought me to a place in my life which I had never envisioned, and for that I am grateful. There won’t be a time in my life in which I will not be learning with you and from you.”—MS

We are grateful to be able to serve the incarcerated Church and for the donations and grant support that enables us to serve the underserved.

Study Sacred Architecture This Fall

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Thu, Sep 16, 2021 @ 09:47 AM

New faculty member Erik Bootsma, licensed architect, lecturer, and commentator, will teach HUM 260/THEO 290 and THEO 590 Theology of Sacred Architecture in the Fall II term, which starts October 25th.

The course introduces the history, theology, and symbolism of Catholic sacred architecture and focuses on how the development of Catholic sacred architecture and theology has affected the shape, configuration, and use of the Catholic Church throughout various architectural styles and eras.

Mr. Bootsma holds a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and is a registered architect in the state of Virginia. He has been in private practice since 2014 focusing on ecclesiastical architecture.

He is also the author of numerous articles on architecture, and his work has been published by First Things, Crisis Magazine, Catholic World Report, Adoremus, and the Catholic News Agency. He has also lectured at the Catholic Art Guild and at the University of Notre Dame, Franciscan University of Steubenville, and The Catholic University of America.

Bishop Barron to Receive Founders Award at November Gala

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Tue, Sep 14, 2021 @ 03:04 PM

We are excited to be hosting a traditional Gala this year! Please join us on November 18th at the St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington, D.C., as we honor
Bishop Robert Barron with the Founders Award and welcome him to the CDU community. His special address will be the heart of our program. This annual event is held to celebrate CDU’s mission, accomplishments, graduates, and to
thank the growing number of donors and benefactors who support our work for the Church. CDU Advisory Board member Professor Helen Alvaré of the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University and well-known author and speaker will serve as our emcee for the evening.

Dr. Joseph V. Braddock will be acknowledged as our first trustee emeritus, and Dr. Charles R. Wasaff; Sister Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, SND; and Sister Mary Brendon Zajac, SND, will be awarded Papal Medals for their outstanding service to CDU and the Church. Your presence and support are vital to our bold plans for the future. We look forward to seeing you as we join Bishop Barron in reflecting on the gift of media and technology to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ! For more information, please visit

Thesis Focuses on St. John Paul II’s Insights into the Christian Family

Posted by Catholic Distance University on Tue, Sep 14, 2021 @ 02:43 PM

Elizabeth Gillson recently graduated from CDU with a Master of Arts degree in Theology. Her thesis, “Recalling God’s Design for the Family: A Review of John Paul II’s Theology of Family as Expressed in Familiaris Consortio,” has been
published in the Summer 2021 issue of Digital Continent.

Gillson shares insights from John Paul II on the Christian family. Professor Chris Padgett’s review exclaims, “In an age confused and often at odds with Catholic teachings of marriage and family, I found Gillson’s thesis an excellent reminder that the Catholic Church continues not only to uphold the integrity of its teachings in this critical area but also adapts them to meet modern challenges.” Enjoy reading her thesis at

Elizabeth and Michael, her husband of 25 years, are raising their 10 children in the Diocese of Arlington. She is pursuing a career in theological writing and research. You may also read her scripture reflections for youth at