Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE)

About NetVUE

​​The Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) is a nationwide network of colleges and universities formed to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. This initiative is administered by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and members' dues.

CIC administers NetVUE with guidance from an advisory council comprised of representatives from participating institutions.

Purposes of NetVUE

The purposes of NetVUE are to:

  • Deepen the understanding of the intellectual and theological dimensions of vocational exploration;
  • Examine the role of vocational exploration in a variety of institutional contexts;
  • Share knowledge, best practices, and reflection on experiences across participating campuses;
  • Facilitate the incorporation of additional colleges and universities into this enterprise; and
  • Sustain an extended program in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation.

Colleges and universities rooted in the liberal arts are particularly well suited to undertake the task of educating future leaders who are theologically literate, whose attitudes and behaviors are shaped by their values and commitments, and who are eager to sustain a life of service that is guided by a sense of calling.

Financial Support

Financial support of NetVUE comes from a combination of membership dues and support from Lilly Endowment Inc. Thanks to Lilly’s generous support, dues are modest. Incrementally, as Lilly’s level of support recedes by 2020, future network activities become self-supporting by dues from participating institutions, along with fees for some programs, events, and services.

History of NetVUE

​In 1999, Lilly Endowment Inc. launched Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) to support independent colleges and universities in establishing or strengthening programs that would (a) help students examine the relationship between their faith and vocational choices; (b) provide opportunities for young people to explore Christian ministry leadership; and (c) enhance the capacity of an institution’s faculty and staff to teach and mentor students in this regard. The objective was to identify and nurture a new generation of highly talented and committed leaders for religious communities and for society.

Over the subsequent years, Lilly supported 88 colleges and universities with PTEV programs. Efforts on each of these campuses encompassing the callings of students, faculty and staff were supported by a series of national conferences for representatives of participating institutions. As the Lilly Endowment’s active support concluded, a number of college and university presidents, pleased with the positive results of these programs, asked the Council of Independent Colleges to extend and expand a nation-wide campus-supported network for the theological exploration of vocation.

In early 2008, CIC began to craft a vision for such a network, identified its goals, and laid the groundwork for an inaugural conference in March 2009. In the fall of 2009, NetVUE was launched as a network of colleges and universities committed to fostering the theological exploration of vocation in their campus communities.

National Conference

National conferences and regional events are held in alternating years.  National conferences bring together teams of campus leaders with expert resource persons from across the country and serve as one of the NetVUE cornerstone activities. NetVUE funding from member dues and Lilly Endowment Inc. provides financial support for national conferences.

2022 NetVUE Conference

The next NetVUE Conference will take place in Dallas, Texas, and has been postponed to March 24–26, 2022. During the previously planned conference dates (March 18–20, 2021), a number of virtual events will be offered for NetVUE member institutions. These events will be announced throughout this fall and winter.

Previous Conferences

PDF2013 NetVUE Conference
Indianapolis, IN

PDF2011 NetVUE Conference
Indianapolis, IN

Faculty Seminars

Teaching Vocational Exploration Seminar

CIC is pleased to announce a multidisciplinary seminar, Teaching Vocational Exploration, for full-time faculty members in all fields at colleges and universities that are members of NetVUE.

June 22–26, 2020 Postponed to June 14–18, 2021 (Chicago, IL) 
View Program Information.

Regional Events

​Regional events and national conferences are held in alternating years. NetVUE supports regional gatherings and multi-campus collaborations on specific topics. NetVUE member campuses, or a group of campuses, are encouraged to organize and host such gatherings based on issues or themes of interest. These events will build smaller networks among member campuses based on location, affiliation, program offerings, or other points of mutual interest. NetVUE funding from member dues and Lilly Endowment Inc. provides financial support for regional gatherings.

View a summary of the 2017–2018 regional gatherings.

2019–2020 Regional and Topical Gatherings

Preliminary Schedule

Fall Semester 2019 Gatherings

September 20–21, 2019 • Pepperdine University • Malibu, CA

Hearing Vocation Differently

This gathering will provide a venue in which NetVUE campus leaders can discuss the third book in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources series, Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy (2019). Discussions will focus on the book’s implications for leaders of vocational exploration programs in multi-faith environments. Speakers will include David Cunningham, director of NetVUE and the book’s editor, and two contributors to the volume.

October 4–5, 2019 • Geneva College • Beaver Falls, PA

Educating for Citizenship: Vocational Reflection for the Public Good

This event is designed to generate conversations around the reclamation of one of the original purposes of American higher education: the making of citizens. Issues of social justice, civility, plurality and unity, and the common good are important for the cultivation of engaged citizens. This gathering will explore how vocational reflection can provide a framework for educating undergraduate students about citizenship. Speakers will be drawn from area nonprofits and community organizations.

November 15–16, 2019 • Lipscomb University • Nashville, TN

Colleges Can Have Vocations Too

Transforming the mission of a college or university into a saga—a powerful and compelling narrative informed by a unique history—requires a strong sense of institutional vocation in which the college or university has been called and summoned to fulfill a special role. This gathering will consider institutional vocational discernment as a means of identifying and developing a saga, with attention to issues of religious heritage, educational philosophy, faculty commitments, and student outcomes. Speakers include Florence Amamoto, Gustavus Adolphus College; David Cunningham, director of NetVUE; Jason Mahn, Augustana College (IL); and Julianne Wallace, Alvernia College.

November 21–22, 2019 • Preceding the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting • San Diego, CA

Vocation, Teaching, and Religious Studies: An AAR/SBL Pre-Meeting

Faculty members and scholars in religious studies will gather to discuss the role played by issues of vocation, meaning, and purpose in the field of religion. Attention will be given to the wide range of faith traditions and life stances that are addressed in the religious studies classroom. Speakers will include contributors to the 2019 books Interreligious/Interfaith Studies: Defining a New Field and Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning, Purpose, and Identity in the Multi-Faith Academy.

Spring Semester and Early Summer 2020 Gatherings

January 16–18, 2020 • Occidental College • Los Angeles, CA

Voices from the Margins: supporting Vocational Reflection with Underserved Students

The goal of this gathering is to explore how vocational exploration might be fostered among students whose identities and circumstances sometimes result in less attention and care from the institutions they attend. These underserved students come from a variety of social locations and identities, including first-generation students, students of color, LGBTQIA+ students, and others. Conversations will seek to identify best practices and innovative ways to foster culturally sensitive vocational exploration among students from marginalized communities.

February 21–22, 2020 • Huntingdon College • Montgomery, AL

Where the Campus Meets the World: Vocation and Post-College Transition

This gathering will explore strategies for faculty and staff members who seek to help students put into practice beyond the classroom and the campus what they learn about vocation in the undergraduate setting. It will include discussions of obstacles that can arise as students pursue their callings after college—including structural and socio-economic factors, disabilities, cross-cultural challenges, and the tendency of some forms of “service” to do more harm than good. The gathering will include a visit to the renowned Legacy Museum and the Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Postponed until spring 2022 • St. Norbert College • De Pere, WI

Engaging Faculty Members in the Work of Vocation

As experience and research have shown, sustaining a commitment to vocation-related efforts on a college campus over time requires the engagement of faculty members, as well as ongoing investments on their part. This gathering will consider strategies for faculty engagement—including past successes, present-day obstacles and opportunities, and fresh ideas for the future. Campuses are encouraged to send teams that include at least one faculty member and at least one professional whose portfolio includes the recruitment of faculty members for these efforts. The keynote speakers will be Paul J. Wadell, professor emeritus of religious studies at St. Norbert College and Darby K. Ray, Donald W. and Ann M. Harward Professor of Civic Engagement and Director, Harward Center for Community Partnerships at Bates College.  They are co-directors of the NetVUE faculty seminar on Teaching Vocational Exploration.

Postponed until June 24, 2021 • Bluffton University • Bluffton, OH


Many institutions have established “centers” as integrated spaces that combine areas once considered distinct: career development, academic advising, community engagement, vocational discernment, diversity initiatives, internships, and more. This gathering will examine both the impetus for and the outcomes of such creative realignments. What can be done together—at the “center”—that cannot be done from individually defined locations at the periphery? The gathering will explore models and best practices for involving various constituencies in this enterprise, including faculty members, administrators, program directors, and the local community.

Postponed until October 28–29, 2021 • Dominican University • River Forest, IL


The changing demographics of the student body at NetVUE colleges and universities present both challenges and opportunities. In particular, the increasing diversity at these institutions is often noted, but religious diversity rarely receives the level of attention given to other elements of difference. And yet, religious diversity may be one of the most important topics to consider when thinking about vocational exploration and discernment. This NetVUE gathering addresses these questions through substantive workshops that emphasize interactive engagement. These workshops will be framed by plenary sessions, breakout sessions, and a wide range of opportunities for networking and discussion.

Grant Programs

​NetVUE currently offers the following grant programs to strengthen the ability of NetVUE member institutions to enrich the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. These initiatives are administered by CIC with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc.

Grants for Reframing the Institutional Saga

Grants for Reframing the Institutional Saga are available to support the efforts of NetVUE member institutions to create an updated account of their history and mission in light of their current context. All NetVUE member institutions may request grants in amounts ranging up to $40,000 for use over two years to examine the ties between their inheritance from the past and the vocations that situate them within their current context and call them into the future. By the end of the grant period, recipients are expected to have created one or more enduring products, such as a book (whether a monograph or a collection of essays) or other products that reflect deep research and that gather the results of the reframing process. This is the first of two anticipated rounds of selection for this grant program.

View grant information.

Application Deadline: August 14, 2020

Professional Development Awards

Professional Development Awards are available to support opportunities for the professional development activities that enhance the knowledge, skills, and expertise of staff and faculty members who support undergraduate vocational initiatives. Eligible NetVUE member institutions may request $5,000 to $10,000 for use over one full academic year to support professional development activities, in order to strengthen vocational exploration programming for students. This is the seventh round of selection.

View awards given.

Program Development Grants

Program Development Grants are intended to deepen, expand, refresh, or otherwise strengthen vocational exploration programs that are already underway and supported by NetVUE member colleges and universities. Institutions that meet certain criteria are eligible to request between $25,000 and $50,000 for use over a two-year period to further develop or extend existing vocational exploration initiatives. Grant-funded programming may be offered to a wide variety of campus constituencies, including undergraduate students, faculty members, staff, or administrators. To date, seven rounds of these grants have been awarded to more than 150 NetVUE member institutions.

View eligibility and application information.

Application Deadline: December 11, 2020

Vocation Across the Academy Grants

Vocation across the Academy Grants are available to support institution-wide initiatives at NetVUE member colleges and universities to expand ongoing programming in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation across the liberal arts and applied professional fields. Grants provide three years of funding for projects that will last at least four years, with the final year supported by the institution. Proposals that seek to integrate vocational exploration as a continuum from the first year through the senior year, or across the range of academic disciplines and applied fields, are especially encouraged. Optionally, proposals may seek to develop partnerships with local businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations. Institutions may request up to $25,000 for use in the first year. Matching funds from third-party sources must be raised by the end of the first year of grant funding in order to support activities in the second and third years. Upon fulfillment of the matching requirement, institutions receive an additional amount—equal to the original request—for use during the second and third years. Thus, the entire funding from CIC and third-party sources may be up to $75,000 over the three years of grant funding. This is the third round of selection.

View awards given.


Questions about the NetVUE grant programs can be addressed to Lynn Hunnicutt, assistant director of NetVUE with responsibility for grants, at or (253) 535-7644.

View previous NetVUE grant opportunities.

Consultants and Campus Visits

​A consulting service and campus visits program are two key programmatic element of NetVUE.

NetVUE Consultants

NetVUE Consultants are college and university leaders who have strong experience in developing and sustaining campus programs for the exploration of vocation. Some have expertise in student mentoring programs, while others have established vocational exploration in academic curricula. They have created venues in which to deepen faculty understanding of the historical, psychological, religious, and cultural dynamics that shape vocation. These leaders are knowledgeable about religious and secular texts as well as resources that support and encourage the search for meaning. They have worked to embed such emphases in ongoing campus life. Based on years of experience and reflection, NetVUE Consultants are available to guide NetVUE campus communities.

A NetVUE Consultant can provide advice on a specific aspect of undergraduate vocational exploration through an on-campus visit. A limited number of on-campus consultation grants is available to NetVUE members. Grants will cover the time and travel of the NetVUE Consultant for a one to two-day visit. Host campuses are expected to cover on-site accommodations and meals during the visit.

To arrange for a NetVUE Consultant’s visit, complete the request form for a NetVUE Consultant Campus Visit and send it by email to The request should include a brief description of your campus goals, needs, and interests, the designation of campus leaders who will take part in the onsite visit, and an attached schedule for the visit. You may request a specific NetVUE Consultant who seems to match the needs that you identify. However, final consultant matches will be made by NetVUE in close consultation with your campus regarding needs and expertise, as well as consultant schedules and availability. Profiles of NetVUE Consultants are listed below.

NetVUE Campus Visits Program

The NetVUE Campus Visit Program provides an opportunity for a three- to four-member team from a NetVUE member college or university to visit another NetVUE member campus to learn about effective practices in programs for undergraduate exploration of vocation. Visiting campus teams can observe and discuss with experienced faculty and staff members how they established successful programs, faculty and staff development activities, courses and course materials, and plans that led to stable, broadly supported programs. The goal is for the visiting team to strengthen its own program by taking advantage of the lessons learned by well-established programs.

A limited number of campus visit grants is available to NetVUE member institutions. Grants will cover travel, housing, and meals for a one- to two-day visit for up to $850 per team member for a team of three or four members. The use of grant funds should be planned with the host campus to support meal and lodging expenses during the visit. The NetVUE Campus Visit program is generously supported by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to CIC.

NetVUE members interested in a visit should contact a potential host campus and make preliminary arrangements before requesting funding from NetVUE.

To request funding for a NetVUE Campus Visit, please complete a NetVUE Campus Visit form and submit it by email to or fax to (616) 395-6753. The request should include the following:
  • A brief description of the campus visit goals, needs, and interests;
  • A listing of the names and titles of the visiting team leader and team members;
  • The contact information for the host institution;
  • A one-sheet budget to cover travel, meal, and lodging expenses for both the visiting team and the host campus up to a maximum of $400 for travel and $450 for meals and lodging per visiting team member for a team of three or four members (NetVUE will reimburse expenses to the institutions after the visit);
  • A one-sheet proposed schedule for the visit; and
  • Approval of President or Chief Academic Officer.

Within 30 days of the visit, the visiting team should submit a one- to two-page report to NetVUE summarizing what was learned and describing the next steps to be taken by the visiting campus. The report should be accompanied by a request for visit expense reimbursement.

For additional information, please contact David Cunningham, director of NetVUE, by email at or by phone at (616) 395-6750.​

Scholarly Resources Project

View the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Blog.

Despite the increasing interest in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation, its further development on college and university campuses faces significant challenges. The current economic climate has led to a focus on shorter-term educational goals. Many institutions find themselves fighting to preserve emphasis on the importance of broader vision and deeper wisdom in undergraduate education. The liberal arts disciplines—traditionally a bulwark for conversations about questions of meaning and significance—are frequently on the defensive. Students increasingly encounter a wider array of religious traditions on campus and also find themselves with the uncertainties that characterize what we have learned to call “emerging adulthood.” These and related challenges have prompted many new questions about the concept of vocation and how it can best be explored by today’s undergraduate students.
NetVUE member colleges and universities would benefit from access to new scholarly resources that facilitate better theological understanding of vocation among students and faculty members. Although a number of such resources were produced as a result of the PTEV initiative, each new decade brings with it new questions related to faith and vocation. Three major issues have been identified by scholars of vocation and NetVUE’s leaders for the development of new scholarly resources.
  • First, how can colleges and universities educate undergraduates about vocation? In the face of an ever-changing context, institutions need resources for increasing student attentiveness to vocation, for describing the nature of vocational exploration in fresh and compelling ways, and for connecting students with vocation-based practices across institutions with diverse missions and religious heritages. Click here for further description and seminar scholars. The first seminar resulted in the publication of a book, At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education, published by Oxford University Press. 
NetVUE has brought together three groups of senior scholars who represent a wide range of theological traditions and who have expertise related to each of these themes. Each of these seminar groups studied one of the issues and convened three times over a 14-month period. Each seminar group produced a book and perhaps will produce other scholarly materials that respond to one of these three important vocational questions and become resources for colleges and universities. Each of the three groups incorporated theological foundations from many different traditions. The members of each seminar group compared ideas and perspectives that emerged from their common and individual readings and completed a coordinated writing project over the course of a year.
For additional information about the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project, please contact David Cunningham by email at or by phone at (616) 395-6750.

Electronic Resources and Links

NetVUE offers a collection of resources to support the exploration of vocation in undergraduate education. These include the NetVUE Community Network site, speeches and presentation materials from national and regional conferences, and materials collected through the Lilly PTEV program.

NetVUE Blog

NetVUE sponsors a publicly-accessible blog, Vocation Matters. Posts include original content from leaders at NetVUE institutions, reflections on the nature of vocational reflection, and occasional links to other relevant content on the web. The site is maintained by Hannah Schell, NetVUE online community coordinator; for more information, send an email to

NetVUE Webinars

NetVUE offers virtual conversations on topics of relevance to its member institutions. Members are notified of these events in advance and can participate in real time, with extensive opportunities for Q and A. After the events have taken place, a recording and transcript of each webinar is posted online. View a list of NetVUE webinars, including links to recordings.

NetVUE Community network site

The Community Network site is an access-controlled site for NetVUE members only. Through the site, leaders of member campuses can do the following:
  • Share documents, audio, and video files
  • Browse resources on books, movies, and course syllabi
  • Participate in listserv discussions
  • View a directory of other NetVUE member contacts
Access the NetVUE Community Network Site

If you would like to join the NetVUE Community Network site, send an email to and include your own name, your title, your institution's name, and your email address. Please allow 3–4 days for processing and verification. You will receive your login information after being registered with CIC.

Other Resource Links


Advisory Council and NetVUE Staff

Stephen R. Briggs
Berry College
Graciela Caneiro-Livingston
Nebraska Wesleyan University

Donna M. Carroll
Dominican University (IL)
Andrew R. Chan
Vice President for Personal and Career Development
Wake Forest University

Darrel D. Colson
Wartburg College
Joel L. Cunningham
Vice Chancellor Emeritus
Professor of Mathematics
Sewanee: The University of the South
Charlie T. McCormick
Schreiner University
Tracy Wenger Sadd
Former Chaplain and Executive Director, Purposeful Life Work and Ethical Leadership
Elizabethtown College
Kathleen F. Weaver
Associate Provost for Research and Professonal Development
Loyola Marymount University

Stephen K. Wilke
Vice President for Planning and New Programs
Executive Director, Institute for Discipleship
Southwestern College

David s. Cunningham 

Director of NetVUE

David S. Cunningham headshotDavid Cunningham is director of NetVUE.  In this role, he oversees and guides NetVUE activities, working with both the CIC staff and the NetVUE Advisory Council from the NetVUE office based in Holland, MI.  Previously he served as the director of the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project, overseeing the development and editing of three books published by Oxford University Press. He holds a faculty appointment as professor of religion at Hope College, where he also served as director of the CrossRoads Project, Hope's Lilly-funded Program for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV). He previously served on the faculty of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and at the University of St. Thomas (MN). David has an undergraduate degree in communication studies from Northwestern University, a master's degree in theology and religious studies from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in religion from Duke University.

David can be reached by email at or by phone at (616) 395-6750.

Lynn Hunnicutt

Assistant Director of NetVUE

Lynn Hunnicutt headshotLynn Hunnicutt is assistant director of NetVUE. In this role, she has primary responsibility for administering CIC’s wide array of NetVUE grant programs, working on a half-time basis from Pacific Lutheran University, where she serves as professor of economics. She has been deeply involved in conversations about vocational reflection and discernment since 2005, having served as the founding director of Pacific Lutheran’s Wild Hope Center for Vocation. She has also served as a campus consultant for NetVUE and as co-chair of the Vocation of a Lutheran College conference. Lynn’s research work is in applied microeconomics, with a special interest in how the discipline of economics addresses questions of calling and purpose. She is currently helping to develop a book of essays on the role of vocation in various academic disciplines. Lynn received a BA in economics from Oregon State University and an MS and PhD in economics from the University of Texas at Austin.
Lynn can be reached by email at or by phone at (253) 535-7644.

Hannah Schell

NetVUE Online Community Coordinator

Hannah Schell headshotHannah Schell is the NetVUE online community coordinator. This part-time position includes managing the library and discussion board for the NetVUE Online Community (available to faculty and staff members at NetVUE colleges and universities), as well as serving as editor of the publicly accessible blog. A professor of religion and philosophy at Monmouth College in Illinois for 17 years, she helped develop and then coordinate the college’s signature Integrated Studies curriculum. She is a contributor to the first volume in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project and serves as a NetVUE campus consultant and speaker. Hannah holds a BA in philosophy from Oberlin College and an MA and PhD in religious studies from Princeton University.
Hannah can be reached by email at or by phone at (519) 829-6242.


Lynne M. Spoelhof

NetVUE Program Manager

Lynne M. Spoelhof headshotLynne Spoelhof is the NetVUE program manager. In this role, she supports all NetVUE grants and initiatives, maintains regular contact with member campuses, plans programs and conferences, manages information and databases, and provides executive assistance to the director of NetVUE, working with CIC staff from the office based in Holland, MI. She has served NetVUE since its inception in 2009, first as an administrative assistant to founding director Shirley Roels, becoming program coordinator in 2013 and then program manager in 2020. Prior to her current responsibilities, Lynne served as an elementary teacher for a number of years and developed her office management skills in both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Lynne has an undergraduate degree in elementary education, communication arts and sciences, and English from Calvin College.

Lynne can be reached by email at or by phone at (616) 395-6750.

Erin A. VanLaningham

NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project Director

Erin A. VanLaningham headshotErin VanLaningham is director of the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project. In this part-time position, she recruits contributors for future NetVUE publications, facilitates the seminars through which they develop their contributions, and edits their work for publication. She is associate professor of English at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. She was a member of the inaugural Teaching Vocational Exploration seminar and subsequently adapted and led the seminar at her own institution through a NetVUE professional development grant. Her research explores the intersection between art and literature; her articles have appeared in various journals including Women’s Writing and Early Theater, and she served as a Collegium faculty fellow through the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. Her current book project, co-edited with Stephanie Johnson of the College of St. Scholastica, is titled Dwelling in Possibility: Cultivating Vocation through Literary Studies. Erin holds a BA in English from Luther College, an MA from Northeastern University, and PhD from Saint Louis University.

Erin can be reached by email at or by phone at (563) 588-7200.