Renewing the Theological Exploration of Vocation

2017 NetVUE Conference 3/22/20173/22/20173/24/20173/24/2017 Sheraton Charlotte and Le Méridien Charlotte Charlotte, NC

About the Conference

​​​​​​The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is pleased to invite teams of campus leaders to the fourth national conference of the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), which will be held March 23−25, 2017, at the Sheraton Charlotte and Le Méridien Hotels in Charlotte, North Carolina. NetVUE is a nationwide campus-supported network that fosters the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among college and university students.

Building on the momentum of the first three national conferences, the 2017 NetVUE Conference will address the theme, “Renewing the Theological Exploration of Vocation.” The conference will feature effective strategies to lead and sustain vocational exploration efforts. An array of distinguished speakers and other experts will address such topics as the theological exploration of meaning and purpose, undergraduate student development and students’ worldviews, and successful campus programs. The conference also will draw practical lessons from the work of scholars and the experiences of campus leaders, and it will provide opportunities to network with colleagues in similar roles at other institutions.

Each NetVUE member college and university is invited to designate a three- to five-person campus team, led by the president, chief academic officer, or another officer at the vice-presidential level. The team should include others who play key roles in helping undergraduates consider their vocations in relation to personal development, educational plans, and postgraduate choices. Campus leaders may include faculty members, student life staff, chaplains, vocation program directors, and career services advisors.

Thanks to generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc., the registration fee of $800, which includes the costs of accommodations, most meals, and conference materials, will be waived for up to three team members of NetVUE institutions. Additional team members—up to five total—may register at the institution’s expense on a space-available basis. Participating institutions will be responsible for covering travel expenses for all team members.

While all NetVUE members are invited to participate, early registration is encouraged, as space is limited. Conference registrations received after December 9, 2016, will be accommodated only on a space-available basis. Online registration is now closed. Further inquiries about registration should be sent to no later than December 30, 2016.

About NetVUE

NetVUE has its roots in Lilly Endowment’s Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV), which supported major initiatives on 88 college and university campuses between 1999 and 2009. As Lilly’s direct support of PTEV concluded, the Council of Independent Colleges, with support from Lilly, convened a national conference in March 2009—Vocation in Undergraduate Education: Extending the Theological Exploration of Vocation—that drew teams from 100 colleges and universities, of which half had not been participants in Lilly’s PTEV initiative but shared similar values and objectives to the PTEV campuses. National conferences of NetVUE were held in March of 2011, 2013, and 2015, the most recent bringing together nearly 500 campus leaders from 150 colleges and universities to explore vocational frameworks and practices. Since CIC’s launch of NetVUE in 2009, membership has increased to more than 200 colleges and universities. These campuses, most of which are rooted in the liberal arts, represent a wide range of religiously-affiliated institutions as well as other independent colleges and universities. All have a desire to address the theological and intellectual exploration of vocation, both in the classroom and in student life.
NetVUE has five main goals:
  1. Deepen the intellectual and theological dimensions of vocational exploration;
  2. Examine the role of vocational exploration in a variety of institutional contexts;
  3. Share knowledge, best practices, and reflection on experiences across participating campuses;
  4. Facilitate the incorporation of additional colleges and universities into this enterprise; and
  5. Develop a network for sustaining an extended program in the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation.

NetVUE Activities

In addition to the large national conference held every other year, NetVUE offers a number of programs and services:
  • Regional gatherings and multi-campus collaborations on specific topics conducted in non-conference years (six gatherings were held during the 2015–2016 academic year);
  • Modest grants to member institutions to support the further development of existing vocational exploration programs and the professional development of faculty and staff members;
  • Consulting and campus visit services to strengthen or develop programs at member colleges;
  • Development of new scholarly materials for vocational exploration, including At This Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education (2015) and Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education (forthcoming);
  • An online community for the exchange of resources and ideas among member institutions;
  • Resources to strengthen the college and university chaplaincy; and
  • A small NetVUE staff, housed at Calvin College, to support the network.
NetVUE is administered by CIC with generous support from Lilly Endowment Inc. and membership dues. An Advisory Council composed of representatives from member institutions guides CIC in the administration of NetVUE. Additional information about NetVUE, including resources from prior conferences, is available at


Not Yet a Member of NetVUE?

CIC welcomes the participation of additional independent colleges and universities in NetVUE. Members of the network will have access to the array of resources, programs, and services intended to support the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation among undergraduate students. For additional information about NetVUE membership, including an application to join, visit Please complete the membership application prior to submitting conference registration. For questions about NetVUE, please contact Shirley J. Roels, CIC senior advisor and director of NetVUE, at or (616) 526-7819.




  • Kathleen A. Cahalan
    Kathleen A. Cahalan
    Saint John’s University School of Theology and Seminary
  • Elizabeth J. Dias
    Elizabeth J. Dias
  • Robert M. Franklin, Jr.
    Robert M. Franklin, Jr.
    Emory University; Chautauqua Institution
  • Matthew J. Mayhew
    Matthew J. Mayhew
    Ohio State University
  • Alyssa N. Rockenbach
    Alyssa N. Rockenbach
    North Carolina State University
  • Barbara Brown Taylor
    Barbara Brown Taylor
    Piedmont College
  • Miroslav Volf
    Miroslav Volf
    Yale Center for Faith and Culture; Yale University Divinity School







Breakfast Roundtables on Selected TopicsBreakfast Roundtables on Selected Topics5
Opportunities for Worship and Vocational Reflection (Optional)Opportunities for Worship and Vocational Reflection (Optional)5
Opportunities for Vocational Reflection (Optional)Opportunities for Vocational Reflection (Optional)1
Workshops on Vocational Resources to Enrich Campus InitiativesWorkshops on Vocational Resources to Enrich Campus Initiatives8Concurrent Session<h2>Campus Strategies for Interfaith Learning </h2><div>How can NetVUE leaders engage in vocational exploration with students of diverse religious and philosophical commitments? Which institutional strategies and programmatic efforts encourage interfaith understanding and collaboration? Two campus leaders who are participants in the NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project will consider curricular and co-curricular initiatives that can aid interfaith understanding and encourage vocational exploration from a variety of religious traditions.</div><blockquote><div><strong><em>Rahuldeep S. Gill</em></strong>, Campus Interfaith Strategist and Associate Professor of Global Religions, California Lutheran University</div><div><strong><em>Tracy W. Sadd</em></strong>, Chaplain and Executive Director, Purposeful Life Work and Ethical Leadership, Elizabethtown College</div></blockquote><div> </div><h2>NetVUE Scholarly Resources: Vocation across the Academy</h2><div>Scholarship about vocation can deepen and sustain campus initiatives across multiple fields of academic study. This session will address how vocation can serve as a bridge across arts, humanities, sciences, and applied fields. Scholars who contributed to the second of three planned volumes will discuss the ideas and frameworks in the book. They also will provide examples of how NetVUE leaders can use the book in the classroom and for the professional development of faculty and staff members.</div><blockquote><div><strong><em>Jeff Brown</em></strong>, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University</div><div><strong><em>David S. Cunningha</em></strong><strong><em>m</em></strong>, Director, NetVUE Scholarly Resources Project, CIC, and Professor of Religion and Director, The CrossRoads Project, Hope College</div><div><strong><em>Christine M. Fletcher</em></strong>, Director of General Education and Associate Professor of Theology, Benedictine University (IL)</div><div><strong><em>Margaret E. Mohrmann</em></strong>, Professor Emerita of Pediatrics, Medical Education, and Religious Studies, University of Virginia</div></blockquote><div> </div><h2>Presidents Forum</h2><div><em>(Open only to currently-serving presidents)</em></div><div>Presidents are invited to take part in candid conversation regarding changing institutional contexts and approaches to sustain vocational exploration initiatives. Two members of the NetVUE Advisory Council will facilitate a discussion about ways to strengthen campus vocational initiatives in relationship to institutional mission and resources.</div><blockquote><div>Conveners: <strong><em>Darrel D. Colson</em></strong>, President, Wartburg College, and <strong><em>Beverly W. Hogan</em></strong>, President, Tougaloo College</div></blockquote><div> </div><h2>Purpose and Direction in the Post-College Transition to Work</h2><div>In pondering future employment, what are the vocational considerations among undergraduates of diverse backgrounds? What prompts students to think deeply about work as a matter of calling? Presenters from two NetVUE member institutions will describe insights gained from their experiences. They will discuss the challenges and opportunities for creating meaningful journeys from college to career given student academic, experiential, personal, and theological development. The session also will address outcomes assessment and metrics for vocational exploration initiatives.</div><blockquote><div><strong><em>Dale F. Austin</em></strong>, Director, Career Development Center, Hope College</div><div><strong><em>Andrew R. Chan</em></strong>, Vice President for Personal and Career Development, Wake Forest University</div></blockquote><div> </div><h2>Theological Imagination and Pedagogical Practice</h2><div>How can a more theologically-based sense of imagination about the goals and processes of education reanimate teaching and learning? What might be gained by using classic ways of imagining that see learning in terms of pilgrimages, gardens of delight, and acts of hospitality? How might courses framed in this way shape students’ sense of calling? Presenters will discuss metaphors, models, and pedagogical practices that connect imagination, vocation, and undergraduate learning.</div><blockquote><div><strong><em>David I. Smith</em></strong>, Director, Kuyers Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning and Director, Graduate Studies in Education, Calvin College, and coauthor, <em>Teaching and Christian Imagination</em> (2016)</div><div><strong><em>Jacob H. Stratman</em></strong>, Department Chair and Assistant Professor of English, John Brown University</div></blockquote><div> </div><h2>The Quest for Purpose through Liberal Arts Education</h2><div>When vocational exploration is well paired with general education the results are both deeper student engagement and effective preparation for adult life. Such initiatives are reconfiguring undergraduate education as a journey toward life purpose through expanded opportunities in academic learning. The presenter will discuss research findings about effective educational strategies and outcomes from Lilly Endowment’s now-concluded Programs for Theological Exploration of Vocation that explored liberal arts education as a quest for meaning and its implications for the rapidly expanding NetVUE membership. Participants will have the opportunity to share their own examples that illustrate these educational efforts.</div><blockquote><div><strong><em>William M. Sullivan</em></strong>, Senior Scholar, Center for Inquiry in the Liberal Arts, Wabash College</div></blockquote>
Lunch by Campus RoleLunch by Campus Role9
Concurrent Campus PresentationsConcurrent Campus Presentations10Concurrent Session
Business Meeting of NetVUE MembersBusiness Meeting of NetVUE Members11
Dinner on Your OwnDinner on Your Own13
Breakfast Roundtables on Selected TopicsBreakfast Roundtables on Selected Topics14
Opportunities for Vocational Reflection (Optional)Opportunities for Vocational Reflection (Optional)15
Concurrent Campus PresentationsConcurrent Campus Presentations16Concurrent Session
Refreshment BreakRefreshment Break17
Welcome and Bobby Fong Memorial Keynote AddressWelcome and Bobby Fong Memorial Keynote Address2Miroslav VolfPlenary Session<em>The keynote address is offered in memory of Bobby Fong (1950–2014), who was president of Ursinus College and Butler University and played a key role in the founding of NetVUE.</em><br><br> <h2>Transcendence and Calling</h2> <span style="color:#282828;"><div>Our foundational calling as human beings is to align our lives with transcendent sources and goals for living. This applies to our exploration and understanding of vocation as well. A basic challenge is to negotiate the tension between that foundational calling and the conditions under which it is exercised. What are the transcendent sources of calling? How does calling influence life goals? How can we align our lives with these callings and goals? A renowned theologian and author will discuss these questions in the opening keynote address.<span style="color:#282828;"><br><br>Chair: <strong><em>Peter E. Millet</em></strong>, President, Stillman College</span><br></div></span>
Closing Plenary Session PanelClosing Plenary Session Panel18Kathleen A. Cahalan; Elizabeth J. Dias; Robert M. Franklin, Jr.; Barbara Brown TaylorPlenary Session<div><div><h2>Renewing the Theology of Vocation</h2></div></div><div><br></div> <span style="color:#282828;"><div>Which theological ideas are foundational to an understanding of vocation? What theological questions are compelling to college students? How might colleges and universities renew the inclusion of theological perspectives within the curriculum for an increasingly diverse student population? Three distinguished theologians in conversation with a national news correspondent will explore pathways for colleges and universities to renew theological understandings of vocation and calling for the students they serve.<br><br><span style="color:#282828;"><span><span>Moderator:<span style="color:#282828;"><span><span><strong> <em>Elizabeth J. Dias</em></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span> <br></div></span>
Boxed Lunches and DepartureBoxed Lunches and Departure19
Small Group Discussions by Campus RoleSmall Group Discussions by Campus Role3
Orientation Session for Those New to NetVUEOrientation Session for Those New to NetVUE3
Welcoming Reception and DinnerWelcoming Reception and Dinner4
Plenary SessionPlenary Session6Matthew J. Mayhew; Alyssa N. RockenbachPlenary Session<h2>A Call to Understanding: How Students’ Diverse Backgrounds and Worldviews Can Enhance Vocational Discernment</h2><div><br>To foster understanding and goodwill among students of different perspectives and backgrounds is more pressing than ever as cultural, ideological, and religious conflicts divide and erode local and global communities. Encounters in the curriculum and co-curriculum with others of diverse backgrounds and worldviews can have a transformative influence on students’ vocational discernment. This session will explore the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Longitudinal Survey, a national study about students’ encounters with religious, spiritual, and worldview diversity. Based on responses from over 20,000 first-year students, the presenters will address how students’ religious and value commitments affect their interfaith understanding and vocational discernment.<br><br><span style="color:#282828;"><span><span>Mayhew and Rockenbach are co-principal investigators for “Cooperation in a Pluralistic World: A National Study of College Students’ Engagement with Religious Diversity” in partnership with Interfaith Youth Core. In addition, they are coauthors of <em>How College Affects Students: 21st Century Evidence That Higher Education Works</em> (2016).<br><br>Chair: <strong><em>Charlie T. McCormick</em></strong>, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and President-Elect, Schreiner University</span></span></span><br></div>
Refreshment Break and Poster SharingRefreshment Break and Poster Sharing7

Call for Proposals

Deadline for Proposal Submission: November 11, 2016

Participating institutions are invited to develop one of two options for sharing results from their vocational exploration initiatives: a) a concurrent session presentation regarding the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation; or b) a poster that showcases an effective institutional practice for strengthening vocational exploration. In particular, ideas emerging from experience with a NetVUE Program Development Grant, Chaplaincy Implementation Grant, Professional Development Award, Vocation Exploration Renewal Grant, or NetVUE Regional Gathering are encouraged.


Concurrent Session Presentation Proposals

Proposals for concurrent session presentations may share effective practices, emerging opportunities, or reflections on what has worked well and what could be improved for campus vocational exploration programs. Proposals may address the following questions:
  • How do the characteristics of emerging adults who are students at NetVUE colleges and universities affect vocational exploration programs?
  • How can undergraduates be engaged in both curricular and co-curricular experiences to deepen their understanding of meaning and purpose?
  • What vocational exploration efforts encourage students to deepen their religious and spiritual commitments and cultivate meaning, purpose, and direction?
  • Which pedagogical and curricular efforts prepare students to graduate with a rich sense of purpose and calling?
  • Which faculty and staff development approaches equip and sustain those who lead undergraduate vocational exploration efforts?
  • How can institutions assess the effectiveness of their vocational exploration efforts and gauge student outcomes?
  • Which strategies attract financial support for vocational exploration programs?

Guidelines for Submitting a Concurrent Session Proposal

Presentation proposals should include a plan for 15–20 minutes of presentation complemented by a time for questions and discussion with session participants. Some sessions allow 45 minutes for a presentation by a single institution, and others are 60 minutes for two or more institutions to present on a common theme. To propose a concurrent session presentation, please submit the following (not to exceed one page):
  1. Title that describes the presentation topic or theme;
  2. Description of the proposed content;
  3. Two or three discussion questions in which session participants will be actively engaged; and
  4. Names and titles of those who will make the presentation.

Guidelines for Submitting a Poster Display Proposal

Proposals for campus posters may address effective campus strategies and program initiatives based on the experience of the campus vocation team or learning from a NetVUE-supported grant. The poster space will be 48" by 48". Specific instructions will be provided to those with accepted poster proposals.

Campus vocation posters will remain in place for the duration of the conference. Each campus team for whom a poster is approved will be asked to station at least one team member as a host of poster discussions during the 45-minute refreshment break on Friday morning, March 24.

To propose a campus poster please submit the following:
  1. Title that will be used for the poster;
  2. One-paragraph description of the proposed campus strategy and related vocational initiative; and
  3. Name and title of the poster host on the morning of March 24.
Concurrent session and poster proposals should be submitted to Shirley J. Roels, CIC senior advisor and director of NetVUE, at To be given full consideration, proposals must be submitted before November 11, 2016.

An On-Going Conversation

​As a learning community, NetVUE seeks to renew the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation. Learning communities are more beneficial when members share common readings and reflections and compare their perspectives. At the 2017 NetVUE Conference, the initiatives described below will enhance efforts to build a NetVUE community of reflection and discernment.

ELA participants in session  

Pre-Conference Readings

Prior to the conference, all participants will be asked to read a small selection of materials to help focus discussions throughout the conference. Participants will be notified in advance of the conference how to obtain access to these readings.

Guided Reflections on Vocation

Conference participants can consider their own vocations during opportunities for individual reflection and communal liturgy. Participants will receive guidance about these opportunities upon arrival in Charlotte.

Poster Presentations and Exchanges

Campus posters about vocational initiatives will be displayed throughout the conference. On Friday morning there will be a time for extended exchanges with colleagues displaying posters that describe what they have learned from their vocational exploration efforts. To propose a poster presentation, please see the guidelines.

Small Discussion Groups

On Thursday afternoon and during the Friday lunch, participants will meet in small groups with campus leaders who work in similar roles on NetVUE campuses. During the Friday and Saturday morning breakfasts there also will be opportunities for discussions about specific vocational topics. The primary purpose of these conversations is to compare and contrast approaches to intellectual and theological understandings of vocation and to consider ways to sustain vocational initiatives over time.

Hotel and Travel


​Sheraton Charlotte and Le Méridien Charlotte

555 South McDowell Street
Charlotte, NC 28204
Sheraton Charlotte Hotel: (704) 372-4100
Le Méridien Charlotte Hotel: (704) 372-9610

 Hotel Information

Views of Sheraton Charlotte Hotel from front and from lobbySheraton Charlotte Hotel
555 South McDowell Street, South Tower
Charlotte, NC 28204
Phone: (866) 716-8134 or (704) 372-4100

To reserve a room at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, please visit or call the hotel directly at (866) 716-8134 or (704) 372-4100 and indicate that you are with the “Council of Independent Colleges-NetVUE Conference.”

Views of Le Méridien Charlotte Hotel from entrance and from lobbyLe Méridien Charlotte Hotel
555 South McDowell Street, North Tower
Charlotte, NC 28204
Phone: (877) 782-0116 or (704) 372-9610

To reserve a room at the Le Méridien Charlotte Hotel, please visit or call the hotel directly at (877) 782-0116 or (704) 372-9610 and indicate that you are with the “Council of Independent Colleges-NetVUE Conference.”

Rate at Either Hotel: $159 Single/Double
Hotel Reservation Deadline: February 17, 2017

Participants need to make their own hotel reservations at one of the two NetVUE Conference hotels. The hotels share a joint conference complex where all conference sessions will be held. CIC will cover the expense of up to three team members’ guest rooms for the conference dates. Should rooms become filled at one hotel, reservation requests will be forwarded to the other property.

Participants who wish to extend their stay beyond the conference dates may do so at their own expense. Please note that hotel reservations made after February 17, 2017, cannot be guaranteed at the CIC rate and will be accommodated on a space-available basis only.

The Sheraton Charlotte and the Le Méridien Charlotte hotels are located in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, steps away from the Metropolitan at Midtown and EpiCentre malls, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, several museums, and the Charlotte Convention Center. The hotels also are close to many dining and shopping options and are approximately 8 miles, or 13 minutes, from Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT).


Travel Costs

Please note that NetVUE institutions are expected to cover the travel expenses of all team members. A limited number of travel grants are available to NetVUE member institutions with limited resources or with unusually high travel expenses.

To inquire about a travel grant, please contact Shirley J. Roels, CIC senior advisor and director of NetVUE, at or (616) 526-7819.

Hotel Parking

Valet parking is $20 per night, and self-parking is $15 per night for conference participants.

Taxi Information

Taxi service to the hotel is available curbside, on the baggage-claim level of the airport for about $25 (one way). Uber and Lyft services also are available in Charlotte. The Charlotte Area Transit System provides efficient bus service from the airport to uptown Charlotte.


The Amtrak Railway Station is located 1.5 miles from the Sheraton Charlotte and the Le Méridien Charlotte Hotels. Taxi fare from the Amtrak station is approximately $12 (one way).


The Greyhound Bus Station is located 1.5 miles from the Sheraton Charlotte and the Le Méridien Charlotte Hotels. Taxi fare from the Greyhound Station is approximately $12 (one way).