The University’s newest addition, the Welcome Center, will be named Bethany Hall in honor of Msgr. Robert Sheeran ’67. In commemoration of Sheeran’s 30 years of priesthood and 15 years as University president, Board of Regents member James O’ Brien (‘82) and his wife, Judy, made the dedication possible.
According to Interim President Dr. Mary Meehan, in Seton Hall’s 161-year history, there has only been one president to serve longer than Sheeran.
Even though the University decided to dedicate the building to Sheeran, he requested the building be named Bethany Hall. Sheeran chose to name the building after the biblical village where Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus allowed Jesus into their home. To Sheeran, the location represents friendship and community, according to the university’s website.
In Sheeran’s tenure, he strengthened the University’s Catholic mission with over 30 initiatives, including the creation of the position of vice president for Mission and Ministry, the creation of the Catholic Studies as an academic program, and the formation of the Center for Vocation and Servant Leadership with a multi-million dollar funding from the Lilly endowment, according to Meehan.
“I first met Msgr. Sheeran over 30 years ago when he was the rector of what is now St. Andrew’s,” Meehan wrote in an email. “I worked as a volunteer on the formation team at the college seminary and later served on a university advisory board.From 1996 to 2004 I served on Msgr. Sheeran’s cabinet at the university.”
To Meehan, Sheeran demonstrated true character in his handling of the Boland Fire, which occurred in 2000 under his presidency. His leadership during the tragedy evoked much respect from Meehan.
“No event more impressed and inspired me was his leadership during and after the tragic Boland Hall fire,” Meehan said. “He lead us with kindness, calmness and compassion. I will never forget that his only thoughts were of our students and their families. He will always have my respect….I am delighted that our newest building will be dedicated to him.”
Meehan said Sheeran’s compassion in the aftermath of the Boland Hall showed his care for the students.
“The University also endured the most tragic event in 161 years, the Boland Hall fire in ,” Meehan said. “Monsignor responded to this tragedy as our pastor with compassion despite his own great sense of loss. He went to live in Boland Hall after the fire so that
he could be close to the students.”
Bethany Hall’s completion is set for February 2018. According to John Signorello, associate vice president of Facilities Engineering and Business Affairs, the hall is in its final stages of construction.
“In terms of construction, exterior glass and stone work are being completed, interior finishes (paint and carpet) are underway, IT and AV devices need to be installed and then finally furniture,” Signorello wrote in an email. “The large moveable dividing walls in the event room are being delivered this week.”
Thomas Schwartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.