NWC joins Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education

Northwestern College has joined as a founding member the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE), a nationwide campus-supported network that seeks to expand and extend the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation on campuses. NetVUE is a new initiative of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), a national association of more than 600 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities.

Through national and regional conferences, the development and exchange of resources, and participation in online networking, NetVUE will help institutions deepen vocational exploration by their students. The goals of the network are to share knowledge, best practices and reflection on experiences among campuses while facilitating the incorporation of additional independent colleges and universities into this enterprise.

“Over the past several years, the Council of Independent Colleges has made a commitment to advancing vocational exploration as a guiding force in American independent higher education,” says CIC President Richard Ekman. “The concept of vocation emerged as a significant factor from various sources and has been applied in different ways for different campus constituencies. We hope NetVUE will capitalize on what has been learned about the theological exploration of vocation and how it can be adapted and developed to strengthen colleges, their leadership and the education they provide for their students.”

Northwestern is among 61 founding members of NetVUE, which also includes Augsburg College, Calvin College, Gustavus Adolphus, Hope College, Pepperdine University and Valparaiso University. Six other Iowa colleges are members: Graceland, Grand View, Luther, St. Ambrose, Simpson and Wartburg.

Northwestern received a $2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. in 2003 to help students explore God’s call in their lives. A nearly $500,000 renewal grant was received in 2006. Dr. Jasper Lesage, Northwestern’s provost, says NetVUE will enable the college to build upon the many efforts funded by those grants to help students discern their place in God’s world.

“During the grant period and the current extension, we developed new programs and expanded established ones in chapel, study abroad, co-curricular offerings and ministry,” says Lesage. “The grant period is coming to an end, but vocation will continue to be an important part of our curriculum. Through NetVUE, we will be able to learn from other colleges about best practices and successful programs.”

NetVUE is generously supported by Lilly Endowment Inc. Craig Dykstra, Lilly Endowment’s senior vice president for religion, says, “We have discovered that structured programs that encourage and guide students in the theological exploration of vocation do indeed help them draw on the wisdom of their religious traditions as they make decisions about their futures and figure out how to lead lives that really matter. We have been approached by hundreds of colleges seeking to incorporate vocational reflection more intentionally into their curricular and co-curricular activities. We are delighted CIC is committed to sustaining and extending this important conversation.”

For more information about NetVUE, visit www.cic.edu/NetVUE.