Presidential finalist withdraws

UPDATE:


On Thursday afternoon, after The Setonian was published, the Presidential Transition 2010 page on Seton Hall’s website changed. Both candidates’ names, biographies and campus visit schedules are no longer on display.


Instead, a note on the page states that on April 14, the Presidential Search and Screen Committee recommended that all scheduled visit and the search process itself be placed on hold until further direction is given from the Board of Regents.


It also notes that the Board of Regents will be meeting on Wednesday (April 21) to review the next steps in the search for Seton Hall’s next president.

The search for Seton Hall’s next president hit a serious curve on Tuesday afternoon when one of just two finalists withdrew his name from candidacy.

Father Kevin Mackin, the current president of Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, N.Y., bowed out of the search at 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday according to a broadcast e-mail sent by Presidential Search and Screen Committee Chair Joseph LaSala.

According to Seton Hall Media Relations, no further update was available as of press time on the direction of the presidential search or any upcoming changes.

This leaves Msgr. Stuart Swetland, a professor of Christian ethics at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., as the only remaining finalist for the position.

Swetland also has served as the chair on the President’s Committee on Catholic Identity and Mission at the university.

Mackin sent a broadcast e-mail to the Mount Saint Mary College community on Tuesday afternoon around 2 p.m. The e-mail said he spent the days leading into his decision “weighing and praying about the steps to come at Seton Hall and at Mount Saint Mary College.”

He also said in the message that the “current Strategic Plan and initiatives are moving forward” at the school and that he is “called and committed to shepherd these important initiatives.”

Mackin referred to Seton Hall as “a fine national university” and thanked them for “consideration and understanding” regarding his decision to withdraw.

The Setonian spoke with Mackin on Monday afternoon, just about 24 hours before his decision to withdraw his candidacy.

He said that Seton Hall has “great potential” and that the president’s job would be to focus on “how can we develop Seton Hall’s potential and allow students to realize their dreams.”

“There are great students, faculty and programs (at Seton Hall),” Mackin said. “But the uniqueness for Seton Hall is its Catholicity. It’s the significant mark of the university.”

Swetland also offered comments on the presidential search when reached on Tuesday.

“Seton Hall is an outstanding university with wonderful potential for the future and the future of the Catholic Church,” Swetland said. “I’m honored to be part of the search.”

Swetland’s background in the academic world includes being Director of Newman Centers at both Bradley University and the University of Illinois according to his biography on Seton Hall’s Web site. While he has been at Mount Saint Mary’s University since 2006, he has not served in a presidential capacity at a college or university.

“Most of my priesthood has been spent at a college or university,” Swetland said. “A university is a community of learners and our search for the truth. We seek ourselves, seek the truth and to live the truth.”

Swetland was a 1981 Rhodes Scholar, a former captain of the Oxford
basketball team and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, according to his biography on Seton Hall’s Web site. His curriculum also cites much work with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, a group that is part of the Seton Hall community.

Meanwhile, Mackin was president at Siena College from 1996 through 2007. He said that he had a “good run” at Siena before traveling the world on sabbatical.

“I was offered the Mount Saint Mary’s (College) job when I was (on sabbatical) in China,” Mackin said. “The university also had a search and I was one of the finalists.”

Aside from his time as president of Siena College and his current position at Mount Saint Mary College, Mackin was a Siena faculty member, the president-rector of Christ the King Seminary and is a commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

He said the Middle States position has made him “familiar” with Seton Hall’s campus.

Swetland, by contrast, has been heavily involved with Catholic and secular media. His work has ranged from television to radio according to his biography on Seton Hall’s Web site. He has also hosted “Catholicism on Campus,” a television program on the Catholic network EWTN.

Ironically, Mackin’s media experience – not as complex as Swetland’s – has reached the Seton Hall campus. According to his posted curriculum vitae, he co-hosted a radio program which aired on student-run station WSOU when working with The Franciscans/St. Anthony’s Guild from 1988-1996.

Visits were announced for each finalist in detail on Thursday afternoon via broadcast e-mail and the Seton Hall Web site. Swetland will head to the campus on April 20 and 21 if the schedule is unchanged after Mackin’s withdrawal.

On the second day of his visit, Swetland will meet with administrators, faculty and students at an open forum and presentation in the Jubilee Hall Auditorium according to the posted schedule. The forum will begin at 10 a.m.

Mackin’s visit, with an identical schedule and time to meet with students, was set for April 22 and 23. The schedule is still listed on the Seton Hall website, however a line crosses out his visit dates and the link to the schedule on the site.

“I was offered the Mount Saint Mary’s (College) job when I was (on sabbatical) in China,” Mackin said. “The university also had a search and I was one of the finalists.”

Ironically, Mackin’s media experience – not as complex as Swetland’s – has reached the Seton Hall campus. According to his posted curriculum vitae, he co-hosted a radio program which aired on student-run station WSOU when working with The Franciscans/St. Anthony’s Guild from 1988-1996.

Staff writer Nicole Bitette contributed to this report.
Brian Wisowaty can be reached at brian.wisowaty@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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