University states there’s ‘no worries’ about Esteban jumping ship

The SHU community has been in a state of shock since the unexpected announcement on Feb. 16 that President Dr. Gabriel A. Esteban will be leaving Seton Hall for DePaul University in July.

The initial statement by DePaul that Esteban had accepted the position as president of the Chicago-based Catholic university, took students and faculty by  surprise.

 

President A. Gabriel Esteban. Joey Khan/Photography and Digital Editor.

Although emotions on the announcement are mixed, ranging from praise for Esteban to disappointment in his choice to leave, the University seems to be downplaying  the change in the University’s leadership. 

On Feb. 22, the main page of SHU’s website, which is viewed by prospective students,   did not contain information about  Esteban’s decision  to leave – only a search of Esteban’s name in the search bar provides a statement issued by Seton Hall on Esteban’s departure. Also, some SHU faculty were encouraged by  University administrators to “toe the company line,” and try not to mention Esteban’s decision to potential new students at the Feb. 19 Open House, per a faculty member.

Seton Hall’s official position is  there are “no worries” for the University once Esteban leaves in July.

Senior associate provost Dr. Joan Guetti said in an email that she was surprised to learn of Esteban’s decision, but that “a transition was not totally unexpected.” She cited a 2012 survey conducted by the American Council on Education that stated that the average tenure of a university president is seven years.

Esteban was installed as president of Seton Hall  in 2011, after serving as Interim President for six months.

Guetti said that she is grateful for Esteban and former Provost Larry Robinson, who retired from his position in December. She cited  “their efforts to put strategic initiatives in place that have elevated the University’s profile,” and she said she expects “that this work will go on until those initiatives become realities.”

One of the main innovations backed by Esteban and Robinson was the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, which is working toward submitting its application for accreditation.

Despite Esteban and Robinson both leaving Seton Hall, Dr. Bonita Stanton, founding dean of the School of Medicine (SOM), said she is not nervous about the future of the SOM.

Stanton said that “no one could ask for more” in terms of support behind the SOM.

“(Esteban and Robinson) were both instrumental in initiating the conversation and bringing (the SOM) to fruition,” Stanton said in an email. “Like all good leaders, they established a process that is sufficiently robust that the progress of the SOM will be unimpeded by their departures. We shall be forever indebted to both of them for their foresight, wisdom and creativity. I hope that they will return to share in the official opening of the SOM.”

Stanton did not answer when asked when she learned of Esteban’s decision to leave the University. She said that she was surprised to hear the news, but that she is “happy and proud for Dr. Esteban and very grateful for what he has done for SHU and the SOM.”

Stanton did not answer when asked when she learned of Esteban’s decision to leave the University. She said that she was surprised to hear the news, but that she is “happy and proud for Dr. Esteban and very grateful for what he has done for SHU and the SOM.”

Archbishop Joseph Tobin, who was recently installed in the Archdiocese of Newark on Jan. 6, said he “was disappointed by the decision.”

“My initial conversations with Dr. Esteban and written accounts of his achievements made me eager to work with him,” Tobin said. “He certainly will leave a praiseworthy legacy at this great university.”

When asked what he believes SHU should look for in its next president, Tobin said that he is currently learning the history and culture of the school.

“I think I can understand why the bylaws currently require a priest (as president),” Tobin said. “I think that the university will be best served by a president who is able to channel the blessing of a Catholic identity, rich history of achievements and academic excellence into a vision for the future.”

Ashley Turner can be reached at ashley.turner1@student.shu.edu.

 

Author: Ashley Turner

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