Fourteen… The age students start to hear about the college search, the current year of the 21st century, the U.S. amendment giving equal rights to all citizens, the atomic number of silicon, a fortnight, the number of lines in a sonnet, the number of Fulbrights Notre Dame has produced since 1991, and … the number of the president who will be inaugurated next year and who will serve Notre Dame with incredible leadership.
This is an exciting time for Notre Dame of Maryland University as the university undergoes the difficult, but rewarding, process of choosing a new president. Faculty, staff and students offer their views on what qualities they seek in the woman who takes the position.
“Our new president, whoever is chosen, will need to have a keen understanding of the unique and special history, culture, and most importantly, the mission of NDMU,” said Melissa Falen, associate professor of physical education. “She will need to have an innovative vision and the leadership skills to lead the University into this new and exciting era in the school’s history.”
The mission of Notre Dame of Maryland University places strong emphasis on educating future leaders, encouraging service work and creating a strong university community. It’s a tall order, but NDMU has found three candidates who have the experience and passion to fit the bill.
Notre Dame introduced these candidates to the community during the week of February 24th. All three candidates visited the school to tour, meet with administration and some Notre Dame sisters, and hold an open forum to discuss their goals and answer questions. Faculty, staff, students and even alumnae attended these forums.
“I really enjoyed the process, and I was pleased that all the candidates were very strong. It’s nice to have such a great selection,” said alumna Kathi Shamer, Class of ’82.
“It was good that I had the opportunity to listen to three talented and accomplished women who had some compelling ideas about what they could offer NDMU. I’m hopeful that the Board will choose a new president who can move Notre Dame forward while maintaining our mission and high standards,” said Stacey Peterson, associate professor of communication arts.
Many on the campus community share this hope. Since 1975, the university has added a Weekend College, a graduate studies program and a pharmacy school, among other programs. The university hopes to continue moving forward with a progressive leader while at the same time maintaining the wonderful tradition that uniquely identifies the university.
Students also shared their thoughts on what qualities they want to see in the next president. Junior Samantha Dameron in the Women’s College wants “a president who is authentic and inspired.” Dameron continued, “A lot of people are qualified to do the job, but not everyone has the passion the School Sisters’ mission deserves and requires!”
Nnandi Massac, a Women’s College junior, can also attest that passion is everything. “I want someone who appreciates and understands the ways of our school, someone who cares about the students and their goals,” Massac said.
A focus on students also is important. Shannon Stephens, a sophomore in the Women’s College, believes “the best quality for the next president to have would be compassion, to be able to understand how students feel about the decisions that are made.” Senior Jessi Duffy in the Women’s College agrees the president should be student centered and should keep the students’ interests at heart.
Victoria Meadows, a Women’s College senior, said, “The next President should be someone who is mission driven and understands the values of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. I would like the next president to drive Notre Dame forward into the future, giving us the opportunity to have more students at the beginning of the academic year and being able to keep the retention rates high.
“Also, I want a down to earth President that understands the undergraduates, but can relate to the graduate students, the faculty, and the staff. I want the next President to have an open door policy, a president that will come have lunch with their students, a relatable President.”
Along with the excitement for the new president, some sadness follows in that interim president Joan Develin Coley will be leaving. Students will miss her warm and kind spirit in greeting students and her humor on campus.
“While Dr. Coley has been a wonderful interim leader for Notre Dame, the selection of a new president is definitely exciting and brings many new possibilities for the institution we love,” said Joan Wisner-Carlson, director of corporate, foundation and government relations. “NDMU is fortunate to have attracted a strong field of candidates, all of whom I am pleased to see are drawn from academic affairs.”
It’s hard to believe, but by this time next year, the 14th president of Notre Dame of Maryland University will have settled in to our community.