From the President
"Being in the classroom reminds me of where I started and is as close as it gets to the heart of our enterprise." - Mark C. Reed, Ed.D.
This past fall, after a one-year hiatus, I made a return to the classroom to teach freshmen the Fundamentals of Calculus. The experience was good for me on a number of levels. Being in the classroom reminds me of where I started and is as close as it gets to the heart of our enterprise. But more than that, immersing myself in the rigid and defined world of numbers twice a week was an enjoyable diversion from the ever-changing world of a college president.
My first two years on the job have been incredibly rewarding. Saint Joseph’s is on a positive trajectory — student demand is high, we’ve celebrated many faculty and student achievements, and we’ve enjoyed our fair share of accolades. But higher education is in a period of evolution, and my job is fast-paced and demanding. Complex issues and complicated decisions come with the territory. College campuses have always been at intersections — of adolescence and adulthood, politics and academic freedom, truth and discovery. Catholic universities, in particular, stand where the Church and the world intersect to see faith and reason meet.
I recently spoke to a cohort of MBA students preparing to climb the organizational ladder. My advice? Learn to be comfortable and effective in the gray. Leaders live at the intersection of the strategic and the operational. It’s hard to separate them — both are factors in the equation, parts of the sum.
As someone who has studied mathematics, leadership and management, I certainly have a natural inclination toward order and predictability, but fortunately for me, my own Jesuit education taught me to appreciate complexity and cultivate a broad approach to problem-solving and decision-making.
I make decisions every day and those who know me well know that there are some I prefer to take my time with. They also know I’m willing to change my mind. This perspective comes from years of Jesuit education and formative leadership opportunities and roles. I’ve taught myself to step back, weigh the options, consider the facts, imagine the outcomes, and above all, remember that rarely are decisions irreversible.
I’m increasingly grateful for the exposure I’ve had to Ignatian spirituality and principles over almost three decades as a student of or leader in Jesuit education. As the first permanent lay president of Saint Joseph’s, I have found my formation to be an asset. It helps that I can speak authentically on the value of the education we are providing at SJU and the myriad ways that the liberal arts and sciences prepare individuals for long careers and meaningful lives.
Universities are microcosms of our complicated world. The experiences our students have as they pass through here will shape the people they become beyond SJU. That’s an immense responsibility with infinite consequences. It means negotiating more intersections, weighing more decisions and uncovering boundless possibilities.
I couldn’t imagine a worthier endeavor.