St. Thomas presidential position is highly sought

By , University Affairs Editor  |  Tuesday, February 12, 2013 2:41 PM

The next St. Thomas president will be put to a vote by the Board of Trustees Thursday; Julie Sullivan, provost at the University of San Diego, appears to be the front-runner among four finalists, according to published reports.

Narrowing the candidate pool was a large task for the search committee.

The staff member assigned to assist the search said it became clear that the presidency of St. Thomas was a desirable job when a committee began accepting applications last August.  Presidential_Search_SIG_thumb

Sara Gross Methner, general counsel and chief human resources officer, said the presidency is a “very exciting opportunity” and that the applications St. Thomas received for the position reflected it.

Gross Methner said in an email that the presidency is “incredibly attractive,” with a large part of the lure being St. Thomas’ environment.

“St. Thomas is a wonderful place with a strong reputation,” she wrote. “Our resources, both human and otherwise, are tremendous: We have the best faculty and staff in our history, remarkable and generous trustees and alumni, a long tradition of effective and caring leadership, beautiful campuses and stable finances.”

Freshman Jacob Conaway said he is not surprised that the presidential search drew such interest.

“I can understand why many people would want to be associated with a such a superior school, even though it’s small,” Conaway said. “We have become pretty well known from our Division III programs, too.”

According to the search website, the president “has the authority necessary to implement trustee policies and directives and administrative regulations and requirements in all areas affecting the orderly and efficient operation of the university.”

Junior Hannah Volkman said she is not concerned with any changes a new president might bring to the university.

“I think it [the presidential search committee] will be looking for someone who has similar values to the university’s,” Volkman said.

The committee had plans to recommend a candidate to the Board of Trustees in December, but scheduling conflicts pushed the timeline back.

Gross Methner said the committee realizes that the community is eager to see who the replacement for the Rev. Dennis Dease will be, but it also wanted to take the time to make a good decision.

“We all hope that this leader will serve the university effectively for many years, so it is worth taking whatever time the committee deems appropriate to make its recommendation,” Gross Methner wrote.

Junior Nicole Lovold said that while a new president may take some getting used to, she has confidence in the search committee’s decision.

“Father Dease was very loved by the majority of students, so I think that it’s going to be an adjustment, but it’s always good to have change,” Lovold said. “I trust the board that’s searching [for the next president] to make the right decision.”

Gabrielle Martinson can be reached at

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