NetVUE Announces Regional Gatherings, Expands Grant Programs

After its record-breaking national conference in spring 2017, the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) has continued to gain momentum. Since then the network hosted two important gatherings of campus leaders, expanded its grant programs, and completed a smooth leadership transition. NetVUE also will host six regional gatherings in 2017–2018.


In June, 19 faculty members in the early stages of their careers and from across academic disciplines, met in suburban Chicago for the first NetVUE faculty development seminar, Teaching Vocational Exploration. Under the leadership of Paul J. Wadell, professor 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, the group read common texts, discussed the theological and intellectual elements of vocational discernment, and considered the impact of these issues on their own campuses. The energy and enthusiasm of the group was palpable, and many participants are already planning to implement and expand vocation courses and other initiatives at their institutions. Readings for the seminar included Tim Clydesdale’s The Purposeful Graduate and selected chapters from the first two books in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project—At This Time and in This Place: Vocation and Higher Education and Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education, which were published by Oxford University Press in 2015 and 2017, respectively. A second seminar will be held at the same location in June 2018.

two photos of participants seated around a large square table and a seated group photo
The first NetVUE Teaching Vocational Exploration seminar took place in Northbrook, Illinois, June 19–23, 2017.


In July, the third cohort of scholars in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project met in downtown Minneapolis, where the 12 participants worked collaboratively to finalize chapters for their forthcoming volume. Tentatively titled Hearing Vocation Differently: Meaning and Purpose in the Multi-Faith Academy, this third installment is slated to be published by Oxford University Press in early 2019. The scholarly output of this project has been well received within the NetVUE community and beyond. Both of the published volumes are being read on a significant number of member campuses—in faculty development seminars, faculty and staff retreats, and other venues. These books also have become important resources for senior administrators who are considering how to support the development and broadening of vocational exploration programs at their institutions.


NetVUE also continues to expand its grants programs. In June, CIC granted a fourth round of Professional Development Awards to 27 institutions; the grants, of $5,000 to $10,000 each, are designed to deepen the capacity of those who lead vocation programs on NetVUE member campuses (see the summer 2017 Independent). During the current academic year, NetVUE will launch its most ambitious grant program to date: Vocation across the Academy Grants, for which NetVUE member colleges and universities may receive up to $60,000 from CIC and third-party sources over a three-year period. These grants support institution-wide initiatives that seek to expand ongoing programs across the liberal arts and applied professional fields. Proposals for this new initiative, supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., are due in April 2018 and projects will begin that summer.


Regional gatherings and national conferences, held in alternate years, allow NetVUE members to exchange knowledge, program ideas, and best practices. The next national conference will take place in March 2019, and six regional gatherings will occur in 2017–2018:

  • “Vocation and Gen Z: Meaning-Making with Digital Natives” took place at Benedictine University (IL) October 13–14, 2017;
  • “New Scholarly Resources on Vocation” will be held at the American Academy of Religion (GA) annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, November 17, 2017;
  • “Vocation across the Academy: Storytelling, Mapmaking, and a Sense of Direction” will be held at Berry College (GA) February 23–24, 2018;
  • “Vocation across the Academy: Calling, Conflict, and the Necessity of Action” will take place at California Lutheran University March 9–10, 2018;
  • “Mentoring Undergraduate Students of Color: The Shape of Deep Purpose” will be hosted by Elizabethtown College (PA) in Washington, DC, March 23–24, 2018; and
  • “The Changing Nature of Work” will be held at Augustana College (IL) June 12–13, 2018.

two photos of participants seated listening to a presenter and engaging in discussion
Benedictine University (IL) kicked-off NetVUE’s 2017–2018 regional gatherings with its October 13–14 meeting.


On September 1, the new NetVUE director, David Cunningham, professor of religion at Hope College (MI), took office. Cunningham has served the network since 2012 as the director of its Scholarly Resources Project and the editor of the related books. Previously, he served as CIC senior advisor to plan and carry out the 2009 Vocation in Undergraduate Education Conference, which led to the creation of NetVUE. CIC Senior Advisor Shirley Roels directed NetVUE from its inception in 2009 through August 2017. Under her leadership, the network’s membership rose to 217 member institutions, and programs and services expanded rapidly. Roels retired from the NetVUE directorship on August 31, but she will continue to work with the program over the coming academic year as assistant director, with primary responsibility for grant programs.

View more information about NetVUE membership, programs, and services.