October 27, 2022

In an email to the Catholic University campus community, University President Dr. Peter Kilpatrick announced a series of initiatives to support pregnant and parenting students, faculty, and staff, and affirmed the University’s commitment to supporting them and their families.

“Here at Catholic University, we are committed to being a supportive community for every parent who studies, works, or teaches on our campus…I am delighted to share with you the final report produced by the Guadalupe Project. This effort…is aimed at enhancing the environment of radical accompaniment and support on campus for pregnant and parenting members of our Catholic University community,” President Kilpatrick wrote.

Among the many initiatives are an expansion of parental leave from eight to 12 weeks, expectant-mother parking, significantly increasing the number of diaper-changing stations on campus, making diapers and wipes available through the campus food pantry, and offering enhanced resources for students who are pregnant.

Judi Biggs Garbuio, vice president for student affairs, said it is important that students know, as she wrote in the new pregnancy resource guide, that "you and your child are welcome here. You are loved, and you will meet with support" from the University.  

The expanded and updated pregnancy resource guide will be available in print and online and accessible by a QR code posted across campus, including in restrooms.

A new website, parenting.catholic.edu, will serve as a pregnancy and parenting hub for students, staff, and faculty, with relevant resources and policies collected in one place.

“The Guadalupe Project will provide encouragement and support to women on our campus as they navigate their childbearing years,” said Clare Delmore, senior director of executive initiatives for the Student Government Association and a senior biology and philosophy major.

“The new resources, comprehensive suggestions, and future plans of this project will supply an environment of hope and love for pregnant mothers,” she added, so that Catholic University will be “a place where women who are or become mothers during their time here feel at home.” 

The Guadalupe Project, named for Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas and the unborn, is the work of a committee convened in June 2022 by former University President John Garvey and led by Deputy General Counsel Jennie Bradley Lichter with leadership from student affairs, human resources, campus ministry, and the Columbus School of Law’s Center for Law and the Human Person. 

The committee solicited input from individual faculty, students, and staff across campus, consulted with numerous campus offices and organizations, and looked at pregnancy and parenting resources and support offered by other universities.

“We discovered that many programs and resources already available on campus were not widely known, information was scattered in different places, and there was even more the University could do to live out our commitments as a University community to loving and serving one another, and to the dignity of life and family,” said Lichter. “We hope that this suite of action items makes a real difference in the lives of our colleagues and students, and their children.”

Initiatives at a Glance

The initiatives cover a wide range of changes, including family-friendly policies, facility updates, and practical resources. 

Faculty and Staff

  • Extend parental leave from eight to 12 weeks and remove the waiting period for new employees. This will be effective Dec. 1, 2022, for staff. Provost Aaron Dominguez is initiating the process to update the faculty handbook, which governs faculty leave policies, with this new benefit as well.
  • Convene a working group to study challenges facing tenure-track female faculty who are parenting, and consider innovative ways to provide support
  • Increase awareness of classroom accommodations for pregnant faculty and instructors 
  • Conduct a University-wide survey of faculty/staff childcare priorities to identify needs

Physical Plant

  • Add expectant mother parking for pregnant women with University parking permits
  • Expand the number of diaper-changing stations on campus from 12 to 60 to 80 over the next several years, including in men’s restrooms
  • Increase awareness of lactation rooms and accommodations available to nursing mothers
  • Explore the addition of child-friendly spaces to campus, such as a playground

Campus Culture

  • Add a parenting resource coordinator to University staff based on available resources
  • Increase access to and depth of pregnancy resources and support, with a revised and expanded resource guide accessible via a new website hub for pregnancy and parenting resources as well as a QR code posted across campus 
  • Add baby items, including diapers and wipes, to Cardinal Cupboard, the on-campus food pantry
  • Provide a free take-home pregnancy test option for students through the campus health center in addition to the on-site test currently available
  • Offer an annual Mass for pregnancy and early infant loss (the first Mass of Remembrance for the Little Ones will be Nov. 17)
  • Develop fellowship groups for mothers and fathers on campus
  • Publicize babysitting available through the Cardinals for Life
  • Expand volunteer commitment to St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth, and Families
  • Explore offering drop-in tutoring services for children of adult learners in the Metropolitan School of Professional Services
  • Provide University swag and prayer resources for faculty and staff with a new baby (biological or adopted)
  • Explore establishing a maternity clothes closet on campus

Further Study

  • Study options for additional University-owned housing options for student mothers and subsidized housing for graduate-student families
  • Study the possibility of providing scholarships to mothers completing an undergraduate degree
  • Study ways to support pregnant and parenting students in the Tucson, Ariz., program 

The full report is online at parenting.catholic.edu