A new home for Catholic Distance U.

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For more than 30 years, Catholic Distance University has been operating in the Arlington Diocese. That changed the week of Sept. 14, with the move of their administrative office from Hamilton to Charles Town, W.Va.

CDU was founded in 1983 by Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh. It started as the Catholic Home Study Institute offering correspondence courses through the mail. In 2000, the school began offering online courses and now offers courses exclusively online. CDU offers accredited master's and bachelor's degrees in theology; associate degrees; a catechetical diploma and graduate certificates in sacred scripture and church history; as well as non-credit courses.

That long association with the Arlington Diocese continues with Bishop Paul S. Loverde as chairman of the board of trustees.

In 1997, CDU purchased a historic home in Hamilton, and the administrative functions of CDU have been housed there since. The new headquarters is only 14 miles from Hamilton, but according to CDU President Marianne Evans Mount, the changes will have a positive effect on students and the school.

Mount said the main reason for the change was accreditation.

The school currently is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, a national accreditation agency. There have been some issues with degrees being recognized and some trouble with the transfer of credits. Mount said regional accreditation will solve these problems.

Mount said that the CDU board of directors wanted accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

The agency accredits 1,000 schools in 19 states including the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Ohio State University in Columbus and the University of Chicago. They also accredit online giants like the University of Phoenix and Capella University.

Although CDU leaves the Arlington Diocese for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, they plan to continue ties with Arlington. They will maintain an office in the chancery, said Mount.

The process of accreditation is long - six years or more. But the process has begun.

The school was approved for teaching in their new home by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Mount also said that having current accreditation by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission will help ease the new accreditation effort. The school plans to continue accreditation through Distance Education Accrediting Commission.

Their neighbor in Charles Town is American Public University, a large online school. Mount hopes to find ways to work together with the school.

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield has welcomed CDU to the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese, and Mount and her staff are looking forward to settling in and continuing to serve their students around the world.

"We see a bright future ahead for CDU," said Mount.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015