Seton Hall finally has a president

In an email to the student body on Monday, Chairman of the Board of Regents Patrick Murray announced that the board had appointed Dr. Joseph Nyre of Iona College to lead the University. The position has been filled in the interim by Dr. Mary Meehan, who assumed the role of Interim University President following the departure of Dr. Gabriel Esteban to DePaul University in July 2017. Nyre will officially assume the position on Aug. 1.

“The Board is overwhelmingly enthusiastic in its selection of Dr. Nyre as Seton Hall’s next president,” Murray said in a statement from the University. “He is an experienced leader, a bold visionary and possesses an unwavering commitment to our Catholic mission.”

The Chairman of the Presidential Search Committee, University Regents Kevin Marino, echoed Murray’s sentiments, saying “Dr. Nyre’s distinguished service in academia and health care and his experience in transformational higher education leadership along with his deep Catholic faith will help guide and propel Seton Hall to even greater national prominence.”

Photo courtesy of Michael Paras

During his time at Iona, Nyre oversaw numerous successful expansions of the institution including the development of a new core curriculum, the groundbreaking of the LaPenta School of Business, and the tripling of Iona’s endowment as well as reducing the school’s tuition dependency.

In an interview with The Setonian, Nyre said that it was Seton Hall’s “long history of academic excellence in Catholic Higher education,” that initially attracted him to the University when he was approached by the Presidential Search Committee back in January 2019.

“I grew up in a blue-collar family in the Midwest and being the first in my family to go to college I understand how a college or university can transform your life and change your destination,” Nyre said, who also praised the University for its attempts to expand itself through initiatives such as the launch of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall. “I know Seton Hall does that and does that very well.”

A Navy veteran, psychologist, and first-generation college student from Wisconsin, Nyre boasts an impressive resume with three advanced degrees from the University of Missouri, University of Kansas, and Harvard Medical School. Nonetheless, he maintains his humble upbringing which is a central theme to one of his loftier goals as Seton Hall’s new incoming President – tuition affordability.

“I went into the Navy to help me afford college,” said Nyre. “Across the country, this is an issue, and it’s certainly an issue in this region. We want students graduating focused on their future rather than how to pay for their past.”

As to how exactly Seton Hall should go about accomplishing such a goal, Nyre reiterated that such plans need to be tailored to institutions based on their students and institutional needs, but didn’t rule out the possibility of programs such as a tuition freeze, but noted that while this has worked at some institutions, its not a one-size-fits-all solution. “I would caution against a unitary solution, it has to be multi-dimensional because you want to ensure education is affordable, but we also want to ensure the university is successful,” said Nyre.

Seton Hall’s tuition rose roughly 3.9% between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years. By comparison, inflation only rose 2.5% between April 2017 and April 2018 according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1.5% slower. Based on announcements from previous years, information on tuition adjustments for the coming academic term should be made available in mid-April.

Additionally, Nyre emphasized the importance of continuing diversity efforts and initiatives on campus but was reluctant to commit to anything instated by the current administration.

“I can tell you that it will be a focus, but how best to do that, as I’m transitioning in and I’m learning more about the institution and the things that have been tried and been successful, the things that are underway, the things that have to be planned, I’ll have much to share with [The Setonian] about that in August,” said Nyre.

Outgoing Interim President Mary Meehan was quick to extend her congratulations to Dr. Nyre, saying she was “delighted to learn of the appointment of Dr. Joseph Nyre as our 21st president.”

“From all I have learned about Dr. Nyre, he is a committed and very successful servant leader whose many accomplishments at Iona College have been transformative for the campus community. I look forward to working with Dr. Nyre during this time of transition,” Meehan said.
Student Government Association President Rishi Shah also expressed his excitement to work with Dr. Nyre

“I am very excited to have a permanent President join our administration,” said Shah. “I believe Dr. Nyre left an outstanding legacy on the Iona campus through his fundraising and reorganizational efforts. Some of my hopes for Dr. Nyre are that he will make our University less tuition reliant and raise our endowment, something Seton Hall has struggled with. The Student Government Association couldn’t be more eager to work with him to help make Seton Hall a better place.”

Reactions from students to Nyre’s appointment was generally positive, with many expressing hope towards what his tenure could bring to the University.

Junior communications major Zachary Shaw said he was excited about a new permanent president coming to Seton Hall. “I think that this is a tremendous opportunity to help fix a lot of the problems that plague the university,” he said. “I am eager to see what plans he has in store for Seton Hall. Shaw did note, though, that he wished there could have been more student input and increased transparency in the decision-making process.

James Maglione, a senior psychology major, expressed a similar sentiment saying that he felt that the appointment of a new president has been a long time coming. “It’ll be sad to see Interim President Meehan go, but I am extremely excited to see the direction that President Nyre takes the school,” said Maglione. “I’ve been at Seton Hall for three presidents now, and I’m hopeful in President Nyre’s ability to continue the momentum that President Meehan has created in making Seton Hall the best University possible.”

Nicholas Kerr can be reached at nicholas.kerr@student.shu.edu.

Author: Nicholas Kerr

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