NetVUE Members Receive New Grants, Return to Live Events

This summer, CIC awarded 28 members of the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) grants to support student programming and professional development related to vocational exploration and discernment. In addition, NetVUE hosted two live events. NetVUE is a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students.


NetVUE Vocation across the Academy Grants support institution-wide initiatives to expand programming in vocational exploration and discernment across the liberal arts and applied professional fields. The grants provide three years of support, with an initial award of up to $25,000. Institutions that raise the same amount in donor funds over the course of the grant’s first year will then receive a second installment from CIC, in an amount equal to the initial award. Thus, institutions will potentially receive up to $75,000 in support for programming that helps their students discern and explore their many callings in life. Over the first three years of this grant program, 51 NetVUE member colleges and universities received awards totaling over $1.5 million; this year, another six grants were awarded (see list of recipients below).

Among the newly funded projects, Pepperdine University (CA) plans to implement a four-year program to support historically marginalized student groups as they reflect on spiritual formation, community, career, resilience, and service. Rochester University (MI) will expand its mentorship program known as RISE (Relationship, Inspiration, Support, and Engagement), connecting all juniors and seniors with a mentor from their chosen career field. And the University of Mary (ND) expects to develop a four-year, credit-bearing curriculum for scholar-athletes to encourage them to consider the relationship between their lives as athletes and their broader life choices, helping them to lead lives of purpose.

NetVUE 2021 Vocation across the Academy Grant Recipients

College of the Ozarks (MO)
Harding University (AR)
Pepperdine University (CA)
Rochester University (MI)
University of Mary (ND)
Wesleyan College (GA)

In addition, CIC recently granted 22 NetVUE colleges and universities Professional Development Awards, which collectively provided over $200,000 in support (see list of recipients below). These one-year awards of up to $10,000 are often the first grants received by newer members of NetVUE and are designed to initiate campus conversations about vocation and calling. The awards enable member institutions to offer professional development opportunities such as campus reading groups, retreats for faculty and staff members, or invitations to speakers on vocation-related themes.

Among the projects supported by this year’s Professional Development Awards, Hollins University (VA) will host monthly workshops for faculty and staff members (as well as a separate set of workshops for graduates) to develop advising and mentoring activities related to vocational exploration and discernment. Lebanon Valley College (PA) will host a summer seminar to assess institutional capacities for developing students’ career readiness, explore the concepts of vocation, and develop a common language for vocational development at the college. Mitchell College (CT) will implement a guest speaker series, small group workshops, and online opportunities, focusing on a text exploring the vocational impact of diversity, inclusion, belonging, and intersectionality. Stonehill College (MA) will expand campus conversations about vocation by supporting a cohort of ten faculty members who will consider how best to link social justice advocacy and vocational discernment. And faculty members at Wittenberg University (OH) will have the opportunity to participate in a three-day workshop on vocation and then develop courses or experiential learning opportunities to help students forge connections among their majors, minors, general education courses, and co-curricular experiences.

This is the eighth round of NetVUE Professional Development Awards. In previous rounds, a combined 130 awards were made, totaling over $1.2 million. Over the course of NetVUE’s 12-year history, CIC has provided NetVUE member institutions with nearly $14 million in grants across numerous programs thanks to the generosity of Lilly Endowment Inc.

NetVUE 2021 Professional Development Award Recipients

​Andrew College (GA)
Bethel College (KS)
Carthage College (WI)
Centenary College of Louisiana
Cornerstone University (MI)
Franklin College (IN)
Hollins University (VA)
LaGrange College (GA)
Lebanon Valley College (PA)
Lindsey Wilson College (KY)
Mars Hill University (NC)
​Mitchell College (CT)
Northwestern College (IA)
Oklahoma Christian University
Otterbein University (OH)
Pfeiffer University (NC)
Samford University (AL)
Stonehill College (MA)
Union College (KY)
University of Northwestern-St. Paul (MN)
University of Saint Francis (IN)
Wittenberg University (OH)
participants seated in chairs on outside patio
Participants in the 2021 Teaching Vocational Exploration seminar shared ideas during an after-dinner discussion on June 17


After more than a year of virtual events, CIC returned to face-to- face meetings this summer with a NetVUE faculty development seminar, held June 14–18 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Fourteen faculty members gathered for Teaching Vocational Exploration (see list of participants below). This seminar encourages participants to probe a variety of understandings of vocation, to develop courses or course materials, and to establish a broader network of faculty members committed to incorporating the themes of vocation and calling into their teaching.
This year’s seminar marks the fourth iteration of the program, led by Paul J. Wadell, professor emeritus of theology and religious studies at St. Norbert College (WI), and Darby Kathleen Ray, Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement at Bates College. In preparation for the seminar, participants studied selected materials on vocation and submitted a written reflection. Over the coming academic year, participants will develop a new course or course materials or redesign an existing course with greater focus on vocational exploration.

All NetVUE member institutions may nominate one faculty member for the 2022 seminar, which will take place next June 13–17. The nomination deadline is September 24, 2021; instructions for the nomination process are available  on the seminar site. The NetVUE Teaching  Vocational Exploration seminar is made possible through the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc.

2021 NetVUE Faculty Seminar Participants

Alma College (MI)
Daniel I. Wasserman, Associate Professor of History


Bellarmine University (KY)

Justin D. Klassen, Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of Liberal Studies

Bryn Athyn College (PA)
Marcy Latta, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Writing

Calvin University (MI)
Rachael A. Baker, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Coe College (IA)
Samantha Brown, Assistant Professor of Psychology

College of the Ozarks (MO)
Brad C. Pardue, Associate Professor of European History and Director of the Center for Faithful Education

Dakota Wesleyan University (SD)
Krista Belanger, Assistant Professor of Communication

Goshen College (IN)
Suzanne Ehst, Professor of Education and Core Curriculum Director

Mount Vernon Nazarene University (OH)
Dorothea Hawthorne, Associate Professor of English and Chair, English and Modern Languages Department


Nebraska Wesleyan University

Rachel C. Hayes, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Ohio Dominican University
Marlissa H. Stauffer, Associate Professor and Chair of Teacher Education

Randolph-Macon College (VA)
Richard Meagher, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Social Entrepreneurship

Rochester University (MI)
Jaymes Vettraino, Assistant Professor of Business and Director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship

University of Pikeville (KY)
James R. Briscoe, Assistant Professor of Communication and Assistant Director of the First-Year Experience

The second NetVUE gathering this summer was of participants in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project. This project develops new scholarly resources for teaching and research on vocational exploration and discernment. Past scholars in this project collaborated on three books; all were published by Oxford University Press and are being used by faculty reading groups and others at NetVUE member and nonmember institutions. New project director Erin VanLaningham, professor of English at Loras College (IA), led the August 2–6 seminar, which took place in Indianapolis, Indiana. The seminar brought together 12 scholars who will contribute to the project’s fourth volume, focusing on vocation, work, and the common good (see list of participants below).

participants seated around a large table
Erin VanLaningham (far right), director of the Scholarly Resources Project, leads project contributors in a discussion of vocation and the common good.

In preparation for the seminar, the contributors read chapters from Generous Thinking: A Radical Approach to Saving the University by Kathleen Fitzpatrick; Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope by bell hooks; Dangerous Religious Ideas: The Deep Roots of Self-Critical Faith in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam by NetVUE Scholar Rachel S. Mikva; and The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? by Michael J. Sandel. These and other readings were organized into a series of 14 seminar sessions by VanLaningham, who will also serve as editor of the volume. In addition to the formal sessions, the seminar provided participants with opportunities for informal discussions and gatherings. The same approach was used to develop the first three books for the project, with the result that readers often experience them more as co-written volumes rather than as diffuse collections of essays.

The group will meet twice more as they develop the new volume: once in January 2022 to read rough drafts of one another’s work, and again in summer 2022 to finalize the volume. The book is expected to be published in late 2023.

2021–2022 NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project Participants

​Augustana College (IL)
Monica M. Smith, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Carthage College (WI)

David M. Timmerman, Professor of Rhetoric and Provost 

Drew University (NJ)
Jonathan Golden, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Comparative Religion and Director of the Center on Religion, Culture, and Conflict 

Furman University (SC)
Meghan M. Slining, Associate Professor of Health Sciences

King University (TN)
Martin H. Dotterweich, Professor of History and Director of the King Institute for Faith and Culture 

Mount St. Mary’s University (MD)
David M. McCarthy, Professor of Theology and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs

Regis University (CO)
Geoffrey W. Bateman, Associate Professor of Peace and Justice Studies and Associate Dean of Student Support and Experiential Learning 

Saint Louis University (MO)
Robert Pampel, Director of the University Honors Program


St. Olaf College (MN)

Deanna A. Thompson, Martin E. Marty Regents Chair in Religion and the Academy and Director of the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community

University of Dayton (OH)
Michelle Hayford, Associate Professor of Theatre and Director of the Theatre, Dance, and Performance Technology Program 

University of Virginia

Charles T. Mathewes, Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies

Wheaton College (IL)
Christine Jeske, Assistant Professor of Anthropology