The University’s Board of Trustees announced that Patrick Leahy, Ed.D., will serve as the University’s 10th president, effective Aug. 1, 2019. The announcement was made at an event in Woodrow Wilson Hall on Dec. 14 where the incoming president addressed the University community.
Leahy emerged as the Board’s unanimous selection from a pool of more than 100 highly accomplished leaders in the nationwide search. He will succeed Grey J. Dimenna, Esq., who will conclude his tenure on July 31.
“I am thrilled to begin my tenure as the next president of Monmouth University,” Leahy said at the event last month. “Monmouth has continually demonstrated its willingness to evolve to meet the needs of all students and is dedicated to serving an increasingly diverse student body.”
Leahy joins the University from Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA, where he has served as president since 2012 and led the development of a comprehensive strategic plan that focused the University’s efforts and resources on teaching, research, and civic engagement. The plan set the stage for key initiatives and accomplishments including: the introduction of 20 new academic programs; strategic enrollment growth in online master’s programs and doctoral degrees, including the launch of the University’s first doctoral program; investments in faculty scholarship and research, resulting in the University’s first five patents; and innovative external partnerships that expanded the University’s reach and supported the local community.
Prior to his time at Wilkes, Leahy was a senior administrative leader at the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, from 2004 to 2012. He first served as Vice President of University Relations, successfully completing a $129 million comprehensive capital campaign. He was then promoted to Executive Vice President, where he was responsible for development, government relations, undergraduate and graduate admission, intercollegiate athletics, planning, and information technology. Leahy also taught in the Business Leadership Honors Program.
Before moving to Scranton, Leahy was Co-Founder and President of the Business Affairs Forum, a 15,000-member distance learning community based in Ithaca, NY. He has also worked as an investment officer for Allied Capital Corporation, as an account executive at Deluxe Corporation, and as a development officer at Georgetown University.
A native of Towson, Maryland, Leahy graduated from Georgetown University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
He earned dual master’s degrees in Business Administration and Labor Relations from Cornell University, where he was a Fried Fellow, and earned his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
Leahy and his wife, Amy, have four children: Grace, 20; Molly, 18; Jack, 14; and Brian, 12. They will relocate to Doherty House, the presidential residence, this summer.
At his announcement, Leahy told the audience, “As we move forward, we’ll build upon the strong foundation here at Monmouth and move toward even higher levels of excellence and access.”
He thanked the presidential search committee, the Board of Trustees, Dimenna, faculty, staff, and students for “the opportunity to serve this great institution.”
Michael Plodwick, Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, explained that the assembly of the presidential search committee was a collaborative effort between him, Dimenna, and Board Vice Chair Jeana Piscatelli. “Our goal was to put together a team that reflected the strengths and diversity of Monmouth University, and include a cross section of Trustees, faculty, administrators, and students,” he said.
To head the presidential search, Plodwick said that Henry Mercer, III, immediate past-Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, was the “first and obvious choice” for Chair of the committee.
He stated, “Nobody understands the issues facing Monmouth better than Henry. He is an alumnus who has a deep love for all things Monmouth and the requisite leadership experience to guide this undertaking.”
Other members of the committee were selected by Dimenna, Plodwick, and Piscatelli. Mercer explained that these members were chosen from a diverse set of campus constituencies: trustees, administrators, faculty, and students.
In the spring of 2017, the full Board of Trustees met and drafted a “Leadership Statement,” which listed the qualities and criteria that they were seeking in the next president.
Among these qualities, Plodwick said the Board was looking for leadership, experience, vision, and fundraising capabilities.
According to Mercer, the entire search process lasted slightly over a year. The committee held its first of many meetings in mid-November 2017, and the Board of Trustees later selected Leahy as president-elect this past December.
The criteria and qualities that the search committee was looking for in a presidential candidate was part of their discussion from start to conclusion, noted Mercer.
“First is obvious, a lifetime of accomplishment and relevant experience. For the committee, enthusiasm really mattered,” he said, noting that the job of a university president is very time consuming.
Mercer also said that the committee members were looking for a “people person” with excellent communication skills, as well as a proven track record in regards to fundraising.
The ability to think innovatively and meet the challenges ahead for higher education was another important factor that the committee considered in every candidate.
“Ultimately, it came down to the intangibles that make someone a great leader. Natural leadership skills and a passion for students were must-haves,” he said.
“Dr. Leahy possesses every criteria and quality that we were looking for in a president. Monmouth is very fortunate that he pursued the post, and the fact that he did, speaks well for the school’s growing reputation,” said Mercer. “As a sitting university president, he has already proven himself as a successful leader. Dr. Leahy did a sensational job at Wilkes University and is up to the task of succeeding our beloved President Dimenna.”
Fulfilling key initiatives of the Wilkes plan, Leahy has been instrumental in over $100 million in transformative campus enhancements, including the construction and renovation of five academic buildings to support learning in the arts, sciences, health care and business. In order to enhance the student experience and strengthen undergraduate enrollment, Wilkes launched seven new NCAA Division III athletic teams and the region’s only collegiate marching band.
Jonathan Roos, Senior Associate Athletics Director/External Affairs and member of the search committee, shared similar optimism with Mercer and Plodwick on Leahy’s potential as the University’s new president.
“We have all the confidence in the world that he will lead this institution to new heights and welcome him with open arms to the Monmouth family,” he said.
Matthew Yard, an English literature graduate student, was approached by Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement, Mary Anne Nagy in fall 2017 to sit on the committee to represent the graduate student population.
“I realized that it was a tremendous opportunity to ensure that the voice of the student population was represented in the process of finding our University’s next president,” he said.
Yard explained that he believes it is important to have committed students on the Presidential Search Committee as they add unique insights on topics such as academics, student life, and recruitment that could otherwise get overlooked without their participation.
“I think that from the student perspective, finding a president that showed a passion and love for working with students was imperative.” he said.
The announcement of Leahy’s hiring concludes a year-long national search, conducted in consultation with Isaacson Miller, headquartered in Boston.
The 17-member presidential search committee included two students, two administrators, three faculty members, and 10 members of the Board of Trustees, six of whom are alumni.
“I am grateful to Search Chair Henry Mercer and all 17 members of the presidential search committee, who gave generously of their time to serve the University,” said Plodwick.
He continued, and said, “I would also like to extend my gratitude to President Dimenna for his outstanding service. His tenure has been characterized by a keen dedication to student engagement and success, and I have greatly valued his leadership, energy, and commitment to Monmouth University in the years we have worked together.”
Dimenna will continue to actively lead the University while he works with Leahy to facilitate a productive transition. The University has appointed a cross-functional presidential transition team, led by co-chairs Robin Mama, Dean of the School of Social Work, and Richard Veit, Chair of the Department of History and Anthropology, to help ensure a smooth process.
PHOTO COURTESY of Russ DeSantis