To understand decoupling from mission at CCUs, this chapter analyzes demographic data regarding the students whom a range of types of CCUs enroll. My aim is to examine the current state of CCUs in the United States, consider how they have evolved, and assess the extent of decoupling from mission that has occurred as indicated by the characteristics of students. The chapter's focus aligns with the directive in Pope Paul VI's 1971 apostolic letter Octogesima Adveniens that "it is up to the Christian communities to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country, to shed on it the light of the Gospel's unalterable words, and to draw principles of reflection, norms of judgment, and directives for action from the social teachings of the Church." 3
I start by analyzing institutional data for all CCUs in the United States, as well as subsets that include those ranked highly by external entities. I then examine CCUs that have successfully maintained their earlier missions of providing avenues of social mobility for students. I pay particular attention to the enrollment of the largest segment of future college students in the United States, a demographic with whom Catholic schools have had a history of success: students who are the first in their families to attend college. Focusing on first-generation college students holds potential for addressing another impending crisis in postsecondary education, namely, the predicted drop in the numbers of U.S. students graduating from high school. 4 Currently, 58 percent of children under age eighteen in the United States have parents without college experience and would be first-generation college students, making this group even more important for enrollment outreach.'In the conclusion, I connect mission as expressed via student demographics to CST. As Prusak and Reed-Bouley state in the introduction to this volume, "CST might help to anchor Catholic colleges and universities in their missions as distinctively Catholic institutions." My basic question is this: How can CCUs live up to the ideals of a just society as articulated by CST?
Catholic Higher Education and Catholic Social Thought
Nichols, L. (2023). What Students? Which Mission? In B. G. Prusak & J. Reed-Bouley (Eds.), Catholic Higher Education and Catholic Social Thought (pp. 21–46). Paulist Press.