Search still on for St. Mike's president

  • March 5, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - University of St. Michael’s College president Richard Alway is moving along, but his replacement at the head of English Canada’s biggest Catholic college isn’t quite settled.

Alway will retire from the job he’s held at St. Mike’s for 18 years on June 30. Dean of theology Sr. Anne Anderson will become interim president for 18 months starting in the summer while the search continues for a permanent president.

The search to replace Alway started in May 2007, but eight months later the committee had not come up with a consensus candidate it could recommend to the college’s governing collegium.

“You take 14 people of good will, who are very committed to the institution but they all bring subjective judgment to bear, and occasionally I guess it’s impossible to reach consensus,” Alway told The Catholic Register.

Landing a president for a Catholic college is getting tougher because of the long list of roles the president must fill, Alway said. In addition to having standing as an academic and an administrator, college presidents now typically spend a third of their time on fund-raising activities, he said.

“Not everyone can do that,” said Alway. “Not everyone wants to do that, and not every academic can do that or wants to do that.”

Added to the list of qualities needed to lead any college, the president of a Catholic college has to become part of the institution’s Catholic identity.

“This is part of an evolving church. Forty years ago you would be looking for leadership from the members of a religious community,” said Alway.

While a member of a religious order could be a candidate for president, today it’s more likely the person who leads fund-raising and administrative efforts at a college will be a lay person.

“You’re not just picking Joe Smith who happens to be a nominal Catholic,” said Alway. “You’re trying to pick someone who actually will live the mission of the institution and has a record of doing that already.”

St. Jerome’s University, the Catholic college at the University of Waterloo, went two years without a permanent president before hiring Fr. David Perrin, OMI, a religious studies scholar who became president and vice-chancellor in August 2007.

Alway will be 68 this year. He has served two terms as president, and had his term extended twice.

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