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Abstract

The impact of increases in lay leadership in Catholic higher education is an issue of considerable debate. Opponents of the change believe that the traditional identity and mission of Catholic institutions may be significantly altered if lay leaders fail to intentionally nurture Catholic values and practices. Others believe that lay leaders may strengthen and enact the institutional mission just as effectively as could vowed religious leaders. This article provides an overview of a recent study about the perceived impact of lay leadership at one Catholic university. A history of the issues at hand and the methodology of the study are included along with a review of the primary findings. The outcomes of this study can inform the work of institutional leaders in higher education by identifying factors that appear to be important to preserving institutional identity in the midst of significant change. The article concludes with recommendations for vowed religious and lay leaders seeking to preserve and share institutional mission.

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