Local Catholic Universities to  Support K-12 Catholic Education

Released: 1/26/09

Unified effort receives $600,000 donation

Marquette University, Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch University, Marian University and Mount Mary College have formed the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC) to provide academic resources and professional expertise for the 132 Catholic K-12 schools serving more than 33,000 students in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

The organization’s start-up efforts will be aided by a $600,000, three-year gift from the Stollenwerk Family Foundation, as well as financial and in-kind support from the five higher education institutions and partnership support from the Archdiocese’s Office for Schools.

“For more than a century the archdiocese’s Catholic schools have provided a strong, values-based education for the children of southeastern Wisconsin,” said John Stollenwerk, chairman of Allen-Edmonds Shoe Corporation. “With fewer religious now available to teach in these schools, one of our priorities is to retain the mission and identity of the Catholic schools, which now serve a growing percentage of non-Catholic families.”

In addition to helping support operational costs for the next three years, a portion of the Stollenwerk gift was designated to finance the newly created position of GMCEC Institutional Coordinator, a position recently filled by Jennifer Maney. Maney, who will have an office in Marquette’s College of Education, has more than 20 years of experience in counseling, crisis management, communication and teaching. She most recently served as director of career and vocational development at Carroll University in Waukesha. Maney earned her Ph.D. in Educational Policy & Leadership from Marquette University. She has a master’s degree in counseling from Marquette and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

“We will be looking to tap into the collective skills and gifts of everyone working within the five institutions who wishes to contribute,” said Maney. “Our goal is to help Catholic schools provide the very best education possible.” Maney will research and disseminate information about resources available from the five institutions and the National Catholic Education Association, assist in data analysis for schools, and develop programming for Catholic school leaders and teachers.

Anthea (Tia) Bojar, dean of the College of Education and Leadership at Cardinal Stritch University, said the consortium will focus on three areas: professional development for Catholic school teachers and leaders, emphasizing best practices in pedagogy and leadership; Catholic mission and identity; and organizational effectiveness in finance, fundraising, governance, human resources, marketing, planning, public relations, research and technology.

The GMCEC board consists of 10 institutional members (two parties from each institution) and two ex-officio members, Maney and a representative from the Archdiocese. Groundwork for the GMCEC was laid in April 2008 when all five presidents and the education deans of the institutions, key personnel from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and Archbishop Timothy Dolan met to discuss the GMCEC and its partnership with the Archdiocese. The consortium will work with the Archdiocese’s Centers of Excellence to provide training, consultation and other resources for Catholic schools in the 10-county area.

“The consortium has already borne fruit,” said William Henk, dean of the College of Education at Marquette. “Our initial conversations immediately identified areas where the schools could benefit from the expertise available at the university level.”  The organization held the first of four sustainability seminars in June 2008, focusing on student recruitment and retention, with additional seminars covering Catholic school law and leadership sustainability. In April 2009 GMCEC will hold the final seminar in the series, on equitable participation of private school students and teachers in public funding.

“Catholic education is a national treasure,” said Mary Diez, graduate dean at Alverno. “We believe that the very future of the Catholic Church depends upon its schools. Our Catholic colleges and universities can help K-12 schools address the challenges and opportunities of our times.”

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