Nineteen Sixty-four is a research blog for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University edited by Mark M. Gray. CARA is a non-profit research center that conducts social scientific studies about the Catholic Church. Founded in 1964, CARA has three major dimensions to its mission: to increase the Catholic Church's self understanding; to serve the applied research needs of Church decision-makers; and to advance scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism. Follow CARA on Twitter at: caracatholic.


Ecclesial Status of Catholic Education Leaders

The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC has announced the appointment of John H. Garvey as the third lay president in the university’s 120 year history. 

Using the database of members of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), the largest member-based association of Catholic higher education institutions in the United States, approximately 55% of presidents at member Catholic colleges and universities are lay men and women. The largest proportion of presidents at member Catholic institutions is lay men (40%), followed by priests and religious brothers (27%).  Lay women are president at 15% of institutions, while religious sisters are president at almost one in five institutions (18%).

A similar distribution is evident among principals of Catholic high schools in the United States. Recent CARA surveys of these school principals for the National Catholic Education Association’s (NCEA) indicate 62% of principals of these secondary schools are lay men and women. The largest proportion of principals is lay men (41%), followed by lay women (21%).  Priests and religious brothers are principals at 19% of Catholic high schools. Religious sisters also make up 19% of principals at these institutions.

Catholic primary schools exhibit a very different pattern of leadership by ecclesial status according to recent CARA surveys of these school principals for NCEA. More than six in ten Catholic elementary schools has a lay female principal (62%). Lay men represent 20% of principals at these institutions. Only 1% of Catholic elementary school principals are clergy or religious brothers. Seventeen percent of Catholic primary school principals are religious sisters.

--By, Melissa A. Cidade, Director of CARA Parish Surveys
Special thanks to the staff at ACCU.

Note: Although religious sisters and religious brothers are canonically also lay persons the figures above distinguish between those who are religious sisters or religious brothers and other lay persons to describe ecclesial status.

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