The Feb. 16 announcement that University President Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban will be leaving Seton Hall to become the first non-ordained president at DePaul University left some students wishing him luck, while others felt it came at a bad time for SHU.
Kimberly Liebler, a junior psychology major, said Esteban has set SHU up for continued success in the future through the many improvements the University has seen during his tenure as president, like reestablishing the Big East Conference and increasing enrollment diversity.
“President Esteban has done a lot not only for Seton Hall but also for students and universities worldwide,” Liebler said in an email interview. “It would be a shame if his passion for academics and leadership were not expressed in other places too, in this case, DePaul University.”
Although Kerrin O’Connor, a senior psychology major, said that the Class of 2017 has “been given the short end of the stick” by having three separate commencement ceremonies on campus, she respects Esteban’s decision to move on and commends him for what he has accomplished for the University.
“If going to DePaul was the best choice for his family and career, then I understand why he made that decision,” O’Connor said via email. “Despite my frustration with the graduation situation, I think he did a lot of good things for SHU, as far as improving campus and raising our image. I hope the next president will build on those improvements.”
An unsourced rumor from The Observer has students like Garrett Denton, a sophomore computer science major, concerned about who Esteban’s successor might be.
“I heard a rumor that Chris Christie might become the next president,” Denton said. “That would probably not be desirable.”
Esteban, in an interview with The Setonian, said that he knows the N.J. governor well but would not speculate on any candidates. Seton Hall Board of Regents Chairman Patrick Murray said that there is no list of candidates at this time.
Morgan Ivich, a junior elementary/special education and English major, said that the announcement came at a time when many students are feeling “really fed up” with the University.
“It bothers me that he played such a role in changing graduation, as he was clearly interviewing for other jobs, because now the Class of ‘17 is left to not graduate with their friends,” Ivich said via email.
Stephanie Morrone, a junior sports management major, said that the timing was problematic but not surprising.
“It seems like students think he is only leaving because he does not want to deal with the graduation backlash,” Morrone said in an email interview. “I think his departure at such a touchy time will leave the students and professors wondering what comes next.”
Aside from graduation woes, Karissa Delphus, a junior nursing major, was disappointed in the way she and the rest of the students and faculty found out that this would be Esteban’s final semester at SHU – through an email from Chair of the Board of Regents Patrick Murray, not from Esteban himself. Rather, Esteban was in Chicago meeting the DePaul community for the first time when the email blast was sent.
“While I may not have ever known Esteban personally, he was still our president, and I think we at least deserved to hear in his own words how he feels departing the school,” Delphus said via email. “I overheard a student on the SHUFly the other day stating that, at this point, she has grown used to being disappointed in the school and the way it treats its students more like a business to run than the family and home we all thought this school to be when we decided to attend here.”
Delphus said that students haven’t been entirely satisfied with commencement for years and that trust has been severed between the students and the University.
“While I completely understand the drive for Esteban to accept a position he would better enjoy, I think that he must also accept what he’s doing to the student body by abandoning us in such a time when students are already feeling unseen by the institution as a whole,” Delphus said.
Brianna Bernath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.