Last updateFri, 19 Jun 2020 7pm


Patrick Leahy: The Making of a University President

Leahy Making PresidentOn the second floor of Wilson Hall, up the marble staircase and around the balcony, lies the office of President Patrick Leahy. Already known by students and faculty for his warm personality, he creates an inviting space that encompasses Monmouth’s campus.

Previously holding the position of president at Wilkes University, Leahy’s heart has been in education for decades. He credits his interest in pursuing his profession to one of his English professors at Georgetown University, who also happened to be the university president.

“It was the experience of getting to know him and understanding his life,” said Leahy, reflecting upon his own undergraduate career. “I said to myself, ‘that is such an interesting way to live one’s life; someday I’d like to be a university president’. And that’s what happened.”

The experience of getting to know his university president was not his only motivating factor, however. Settling in his spacious office, he recounted a story about his grandfather, who only had the opportunity to get a seventh-grade education before leaving school to support his family as a manual laborer.

“He wanted desperately to be an educated person but never had that opportunity,” Leahy said of his grandfather. “That inspires me to make sure that not only do my family get well-educated, but that we do everything we can at this university to make sure that we’re making a first-class private education as accessible to students who deserve it as possible.”

For generations, the Leahy family has placed education as their highest priority. He said, “Education is the key to creating opportunities for people. My grandfather used to say, ‘if you give someone an education, you give them a chance’. That’s what motivates me.”

Leahy also greatly values the influence of mentors, whom he credits for guiding him through professional and administrative challenges. Recalling his journey to becoming the president of Monmouth, he encourages students to seek their own mentors. “You’d be amazed if you ask someone for their help how often they will be willing to try to be helpful,” he asserted.

Leahy wholeheartedly passes on his own values to Monmouth students. Offering his own mentorship, he is starting to become a role model to students as ambitious as himself.

Mike Fazzino, a senior communication student, Resident Assistant (RA), and President of the Student Government Association (SGA), said, “Talking to him about things he wants to do for Monmouth and how much of a community he sees this school as makes me, as another president on this campus, want to also step up and try to make the school more of a community.”

Fazzino first met Leahy at the end of the Spring 2019 semester, when the then-president-elect introduced himself to the members of SGA. More recently, Fazzino visited the Doherty House, the official residence of the president, as a part of RA training on Aug. 23.

“I have nothing but the highest praise for him,” said Fazzino. “I think he’s going to be here for a long time and I think he’s going to do a great job.”

Since his tenure began on Aug. 1, President Leahy has been impressed with the dedication of the faculty and staff at Monmouth. He said, “I’ve come to realize that my first month is a confirmation of all the things I thought about the place when I applied for the job and then had the long transition from Wilkes. This is a really special place.”

He continued, “The quality of an educational institution in my opinion is directly correlated to the quality, dedication, and passion of the people who work there. That to me is what makes a university special, and that’s what I discovered here.”

As the University’s tenth president, Leahy spreads his passion and enthusiasm for the profession to continue the legacy of a welcoming Monmouth community.

Leahy carries himself with the eagerness of an administrator who very much cares about the well-being of an institution and its community. With his grandfather’s encouragement and his professor’s mentorship, Leahy has come to cherish education in a way that manifests itself onto the faculty, staff, and students of Monmouth.

Khristian Nascimento, a senior business administration student, believes that it is important for a university president to have personal connections with students.

He said, “Having a relationship between the president and the students makes the needs of the students get thought of first. It’s always better to understand where a school is coming from and how it makes its decisions.” He also said that he is looking forward to learning more about Leahy’s plans for Monmouth.

Students like Fazzino and Nascimento could sense how significant a strong Monmouth community is.

Fazzino said, “He’ll be a good president because he understands what Monmouth is. He understands the level of community the school has. He wants to continue to grow as a person with the school.”

Leahy’s story of becoming the President of Monmouth University has become a story of following his dreams, something that he hopes will motivate every student on campus. If it were not for Leahy’s eternal passion for education, sheer determination, and experiential challenges along the way, he would not have had the opportunity to be where he is today—inside the famous walls of Wilson Hall, surrounded by a community of faculty and students who make Monmouth University what it is.

PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University

Contact Information

The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151