Catholic higher education in the United States is undergoing dramatic changes, driven largely by the virtual disappearance of nuns, brothers, and priests from Catholic university campuses. Today Catholic colleges and universities are dealing with critical questions about what constitutes Catholic collegiate identity, what are appropriate ways to engage the Catholic tradition across all sectors of university life, what constitutes a critical mass of committed and knowledgeable Catholics necessary to maintain religious identity, what is an appropriate level of knowledge and religious commitment for those who lead, govern, and teach at Catholic institutions and how do they acquire it. Many people have strong - and strongly differing - opinions about the current state of Catholic higher education. Morey and Piderit waded into these waters with a study of 124 senior administrators from 33 Catholic colleges and universities across the United States. From these interviews emerged the evidence that a cultural crisis is looming over these institutions.
Based on their research, Morey and Piderit describe the present situation and offer concrete suggestions for Catholic colleges and universities to recover their Catholic identity, culture, and mission. The authors define the critical issues and analyze and address them by using the rich construct of culture, particularly organizational culture. They provide four different models of how Catholic colleges and universities can operate and successfully compete as religiously distinctive institutions in the higher education market. After specifying the content of the Catholic tradition - intellectual, moral, and social - Morey and Piderit critique present performance among institutions in all four models, provide specific policy proposals for attending to religious cultural weakness, and offer principles for effectively leading and managing cultural change.