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Students, staff react to Sheeran announcement

When Monsignor Sheeran announced his decision to step down as University President in June 2010, the most prevalent reaction amongst students and faculty was one of surprise. "I was quite surprised and shocked (at his announcement)," said Phyllis Hansell, Dean of Nursing. "I fully expected that Monsignor would continue as President at SHU for many years to come." Tara Hart, Director of Housing and Residence Life, also expressed wonderment, "My immediate thought was, ‘Who could fill his shoes?'" Monsignor Sheeran announced his resignation through a broadcast e-mail in which he called his decision, "Spiritual and deeply personal." Megan Hanson, a rising sophomore, was interested in the reasons for the sudden announcement. "It's impossible not to be curious as to the reasons of this decision, but I trust that it's merely another step taken to improve not only the school, but the personal business of those involved," she said. Sheeran, 63, has held the post of university president since 1995, and has worked at Seton Hall for nearly 30 years. "I was surprised when I first heard the news. I felt like I had just met and grown used to his presence on campus," Joseph Yankus, a rising sophomore, said. Yankus remembered his first encounter with Sheeran at admitted students' day. "I recall Msgr. giving a welcome speech," he said. "My immediate impression was that Sheeran was a confident, fluent speaker. His domineering presence held the attention of all the students in the room, and I found that to be most impressive." Hanson recalled her first interaction with Sheeran, when he taught her Journey of Transformation class while her professor was away. "Whenever I have seen him he's held a cheery disposition and shows care and concern for his students on a personal level," Hanson said. Many of the students, faculty and administration at Seton Hall felt that Monsignor Sheeran was a dedicated and charismatic leader. "Monsignor has served so gracefully for so many years and through very difficult times like the Boland Hall fire," Hart said. "I have very high expectations for his successor." According to Kurt Borowosky, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Regents, the search for a new President for Seton Hall will begin this summer and continue into the 2009-2010 school year. Yankus felt that the current provost - Gabriel Estaban - would make a good university president. "I have heard good things about our current provost," he said. "I think he would be a good replacement for Sheeran." Hart added, "I trust that the Board will select the best person to lead SHU into the future. I believe that there are several individuals currently at SHU who would make great contributions as president." Hart added that many of the qualities Sheeran possessed allowed him to be an excellent leader, and that the new president should also have some of these qualities. "I've always been struck by Monsignor's humility," Hart said. "He is wonderfully adept at making people feel welcome – he remembers people's names and speaks personally with all levels of faculty, staff and students." Hansell believes a good president should have, "a focus on excellence, the ability to effectively communicate and to clearly articulate a future oriented vision for the university to lead into the future of academia." She added that Monsignor Sheeran had accomplished many things that the new president could build on. "The next president will have a solid base to work from," Hansell said. "We are stronger academically, fiscally and in terms of Catholic mission; so his (Sheeran's) successor will need to be ready to continue that good work." Yankus suggested that a new perspective might benefit Seton Hall. "Though Msgr. Sheeran did an excellent job as president, I think Seton Hall will benefit from having a fresh mind as the president of the university." Sheeran previously informed the Setonian that he plans to take a yearlong sabbatical after he steps down in June. "Each president needs to assess the culture of Seton Hall at the time he assumes the presidency and be willing to adjust to those needs," Hart said, adding, "Monsignor Sheeran has done very admirable work here."


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