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The Catholic University of America adopts new governance structure

The Catholic University of America’s Board of Trustees adopted a new governance structure intended to permit greater lay participation in the affairs of the university while preserving its uniquely Catholic character.


Catholic University is the national university of the Catholic Church, begun by the bishops of the United States after the Third Baltimore Council and brought into being by Pope Leo XIII in 1887.

Joseph Carlini, Class of 1984, was elected and installed as chairman of the Board of Trustees. Carlini is co-founder and chief executive office of McKean Defense Group, Inc.

Dr. Enrique Segura, chairman of ENSE Group, president and chief executive officer of Alex Stuart, International, and Securiport, LLC will serve as vice-chairman. Segura resides in the Arlington Diocese.

“I’m honored to give back to my alma mater and advance its mission to provide students with a world-class education and unparalleled college experience,” Carlini said. “It’s an exciting time to be involved with Catholic University.”

Under the new arrangement, the university will have a predominately lay Board of Trustees and also will have a small group of fellows who hold reserved powers. The fellows include all active American cardinals, four bishops, including Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, the university president, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and two lay members of the board.

“It has been a great joy to have served as a member of The Catholic University of America’s Board of Trustees, and likewise, to have been recently appointed a Bishop Fellow under the board’s restructured system of governance,” Bishop Burbidge said. “I am confident that the new structure will allow the university to continue as a leading institution of higher education that is firmly rooted in our holy Catholic faith.”

On the change in structure, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said, “As the chancellor of the university, I appreciate and support this change, which will allow the lay leadership of the board to play a vital role in supporting the University’s growth and its future. At the same time, the decision provides an indispensable safeguard for the Catholic character and unique mission of the bishops’ university.”

The changes to the structure received initial approval by the board at the December 2016 meeting. Because Catholic University is a pontifical university, the action required approval from the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Vatican office responsible for the oversight of Catholic education. Upon receiving approval, the new governance structure was adopted at the conclusion of the June 2017 Board of Trustees meeting.

The model adopted by the Board of Trustees emerged from more than a year of discussions among the trustees, the USCCB, the administration and the faculty of the university, and a group of professional advisors who specialize in nonprofit corporate governance.

John Garvey, university president, said, “I’m very pleased with the evolution of our governance structure. The business of governing universities is increasingly complex. It involves the work of professionals who are lawyers, accountants, financial advisors, and many others in various pockets of the public and private sector. I’m pleased that Mr. Carlini and Dr. Segura will help to steer our course.

“In this kind of environment,” he said, “the lay trustees make indispensable contributions to the welfare of the institution. They also provide one of its principal sources of financial support through their philanthropy. At the same time, because we are the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States, we need to maintain the same close and distinctive relationship with the USCCB that we have had since our inception.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017