From the Heart of Catholic Higher Education: Non-Catholic Faculty Perception of Catholic Identity

Alicia D Dhani, Fordham University


Since the 1960s, there has been a Catholic identity crisis among Catholic colleges and universities. Many factors have contributed to the crisis such as globalization, the cultural revolution, pluralism and diversity among faculty, administrators, and students, and the decline in the numbers of founding religious congregations (Cattaro, 2015; Gleason, 1992; Hunt et al., 2003; Morey & Piderit, 2006). Catholic colleges and universities are distinct because of their Catholic identity. Faculty members, as leaders, are responsible for upholding and maintaining the Catholic culture of the institution. The present state of Catholic colleges and universities includes both Catholic and non-Catholic faculty. In order to strengthen Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities, dialogue and encounters between Catholic and non-Catholics members are essential. This qualitative collective case study examined the perceptions of nineteen full-time non-Catholic faculty at three Catholic colleges and universities, their presence and role at their institution, their contributions to Catholic identity, and their importance in helping to strengthen Catholic identity. The participants’ lived experiences and perspectives can help strengthen Catholic identity. Arbuckle’s (2013) refounding theory served as a framework for this study. Collaboration is necessary between Catholic and non-Catholic faculty, who are leaders in their fields, in order for a refounding of Catholic identity to occur during this identity crisis.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Higher education|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Dhani, Alicia D, "From the Heart of Catholic Higher Education: Non-Catholic Faculty Perception of Catholic Identity" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28496790.