President H. James Williams, Ph.D. provides an update on next steps we are taking to adapt to the current needs of our Mount Community, as well as planning for its future.

president williams

Mount Students, Faculty, and Staff:

This has been a year of growth and transition for the Mount, as a Catholic University and as a Community dedicated to enhancing our culture of inclusion for all persons.  We have continued to build on more than a century of success as an innovator in values-based education, as we forge our future as a Catholic institution and strive to meet the evolving needs of Mount students.  I remain committed to keeping you informed about the steps we are taking to adapt to the current needs of our Community, as well as to plan for the Mount’s future. The purpose of this announcement is to update you on several changes occurring on campus, and to share the reasoning for these changes.    

The Mount has been progressing in its Catholic Sponsorship Transition process during this Academic Year.  In September 2022, the Mount’s Foundresses, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, announced that they are concluding the Catholic sponsorship of their ministries, including the Mount, because they no longer have a sufficient number of Sisters to serve in positions required for Catholic sponsorship.  Led by the Board of Trustees, the Mount explored alternate sponsorship options and sought input from all community stakeholders. Overwhelmingly, the Community expressed a desire for the Mount to remain a Catholic institution.  Based on this feedback, in April of 2023, the Board of Trustees resolved for the Mount to remain Catholic by following one of two paths: (1) creating a small group of Catholic institutions to seek sponsorship through Vatican approval, and (2) joining an existing group of Catholic institutions that have already obtained sponsorship approval from the Vatican.  

Since last Spring, the University has worked with four other Catholic academic institutions to seek sponsorship from the Vatican, together.  We are in the final stages of completing the application to the Vatican, and anticipate being able to provide the Mount Community with details about the partnering institutions and the proposed sponsorship structure in the not-too-distant future.  Undoubtedly, additional campus effort will be required to maintain the Mount’s strong Catholic Identity, Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Heritage, after the sponsorship transition is completed. 

During August of 2023, the University launched the Mount’s newest “Center of Excellence” – the Center for Mission & Belonging – to serve as a hub for the Mount Community to foster respect and concern for all persons.  The Center for Mission & Belonging staff has collaborated with student organizations and various campus departments to support diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) programming this year, but we still have much work to do to create a campus culture of inclusion for all persons – which is, of course, the ultimate goal. 

Recently, the University celebrated the treasured Mater Dei Chapel’s obtaining its place on the National Register of Historical Places, an effort led by Sister Karen Elliott, Chief Mission & Belonging Officer.  This is a certainly a tremendous accomplishment; one that will result in additional effort needed to maintain the historic structure.  

As is often the case with innovation, it breeds the need for adaptation and advancement.  The complex Catholic sponsorship transition process and the inaugural year of the Center for Mission & Belonging highlight the Mount’s needs for strong, visionary leadership as we move ahead.  The University must assume new duties in its next Catholic sponsorship chapter.  The Mount will also need more focused attention on the maintenance of the Mater Dei Chapel, as a historical structure, in addition to continued guidance in all other aspects of the spiritual health of the Mount Community.

In recognition of these intrinsic needs, Sister Karen Elliott has agreed to serve as the Mount’s first Chief Ministry & Heritage Officer (CMHO), effective immediately. In her new role, Sister Karen will continue to report to me and will be responsible for guiding the institution, after the Mount’s Catholic sponsorship transition process concludes, in maintaining its Catholic Identity, Catholic Intellectual Tradition, and, notably, the history and legacy established by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.  She will also serve as the Mount’s recruitment liaison with regional faith-based high schools, working closely with the University’s Office of Admissions; serve as the Mount’s liaison with regional faith-based organizations; oversee the maintenance of the Mater Dei Chapel and the Interfaith Chapel; and, collaborate with campus representatives regarding the spiritual life of the institution (among other responsibilities).  Sister Karen is uniquely qualified to serve in this critical position, and I am confident she will serve the University well.  

We must also maintain, and even enhance, the momentum of the Center for Mission & Belonging.  With Sister Karen’s transition to CMHO, the University must hire a new leader for the Center for Mission & Belonging. The new Chief Mission & Belonging Officer (CMBO) will also report to me and assume the following responsibilities: developing campus DEIB strategy and working on campus-wide implementation; collaborating across all campus segments to promote inclusion and belonging; recruiting and supporting retention and persistence of diverse students and employees;  furthering the overall Mission through campus events, activities, and programs, with regular collaboration with the CMHO; and continuing the growth of the Mission Ambassadors Program, among other responsibilities.  The new CMBO will be supported by the team of Michelle Arnold, Assistant Director for the Center for Mission & Belonging (M.A. Religious Studies, ’19), Maria DiTullio, Coordinator for Mission Ambassadors, and Joey Moore, Assistant Athletic Director, DEI. 

I have asked Teri Compton, Chief Human Resources Officer, to lead the Search Committee for the new CMBO.  I will also invite several faculty and staff members to serve on the Committee.  Once the Search Committee is in place, I will make a campus announcement.  The Search Committee will provide all students, faculty, and staff the opportunity to meet, through Zoom or in-person, candidates who are invited to campus to interview to fill the CMBO position, consistent with the University’s shared-governance model.  The goal is to have the new CMBO assume the responsibilities prior to the beginning of the next Academic Year. 

We are fortunate to have a dedicated and experienced professional, in Sister Karen Elliott, who will help guide the Mount Community in its continuing spiritual journey as the new Chief Ministry & Heritage Officer.  We are also blessed to have the opportunity to recruit a new professional to lead DEIB strategy, campus-wide, and to ensure that we continue to live the Mission in all we do as an institution.  By continuing to prioritize and invest in the campus culture, through these leadership positions and many other initiatives, we are helping to ensure that the Mount continues to provide superb values-based educational opportunities to students for the next 100 years and beyond.

If questions arise about this announcement, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, directly. 



H. James Williams, Ph.D.