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Saint Vincent College President Jim Towey to Step Down in June

October 15th, 2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

'Our Catholic witness continues to attract students in record numbers, and there is a strong leadership team in place'.

LATROBE, PA (Catholic Online) - Jim Towey, the 16th President of Saint Vincent College, announced today that he will step down as president of the College at the end of the 2009-2010 academic year. He will be completing his fourth year at the helm of Saint Vincent.

Mr. Towey expressed gratitude to Archabbot Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., and Mr. Christopher J. Donahue, Chairman of the Board of Directors, for the privilege of serving at the 163-year-old Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college. “I came to Saint Vincent to make a difference, and by the grace of God and the good work of so many people, I have. In four years, we will have accomplished what I thought at the outset might take much longer. All of the hard work that has been asked of us has been worth it,” Mr. Towey said. “The campus has never looked so beautiful, our Catholic witness continues to attract students in record numbers, and there is a strong leadership team in place to build on the momentum of recent years,” he added.

During Mr. Towey’s 39-month tenure as president, Saint Vincent College has experienced unprecedented success in fundraising, with more than $35 million in new pledge commitments. At a time when other colleges and universities are suspending or canceling new construction, Saint Vincent is undertaking the largest project in the College’s history – the $30 million plus Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, which will provide classrooms, laboratories and offices for the Herbert W. Boyer School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Computing. The first phase of construction will be completed in August 2010 and is fully funded. Mr. Towey presided over the successful completion of the construction of the $14 million Fred Rogers Center and the $1.2 million renovation of Headmasters Hall. Additionally, the Chuck Noll Field football facility and the new artificial turf field for students were planned and constructed under Mr. Towey.

Saint Vincent College has enjoyed record levels of enrollment and three consecutive waiting lists for admission during Mr. Towey’s presidency. Record levels for minority and international students were set this year, and average SAT scores for the class of 2013 were the highest in years. Initiatives launched by Mr. Towey to expand student participation in study abroad programs and service learning already have borne fruit. The number of students studying overseas has nearly tripled in three years, and on their first day as Bearcats the past two years, all incoming freshmen participated in community service projects. His belief in the importance of “faith in action” led Mr. Towey to accompany dozens of students on an annual mission trip to Calcutta, India where they worked together in the homes founded by Mother Teresa.

Under Mr. Towey's leadership, the College became more nationally recognized and attracted prominent commencement speakers, including the President of the United States, George W. Bush, and the head coach of the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin. Mr. Towey’s reputation for his work on faith-based initiatives and elder care, and within Catholic higher education, placed him in the national media spotlight. While at Saint Vincent he appeared on CBS 60 Minutes, Fox News Sunday, ABC Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, National Public Radio and other national programs. He also authored opinion pieces that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Denver Post and the National Review. The international conference he convened on Saint Vincent’s campus to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa was carried live on national television, as were segments of the Bush commencement address and the entirety of a May 2007 student forum.

Other highlights of Mr. Towey’s tenure include:

Successful reaccreditation of the College through 2017 by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; Modernization of College information services, including a $1.1 million conversion to a new database system; Increases in faculty compensation to improve parity across ranks, particularly for full professors; Creation of a multimedia unit that overhauled the Saint Vincent Quarterly magazine and College website, launched a successful YouTube channel, and assisted in winning a national #1 ranking for the College's Admission website; Advances in career services that enhance the College's ability to assist and monitor job and graduate placements; Quadrupling of the Campus Ministry budget, initiation of Eucharistic adoration on campus, and renovation of the College chapel that will add 100 seats (to be completed in January 2010); Transitioning of Saint Vincent athletics to NCAA Division III (full membership is expected in July 2010)

Archabbot Douglas commended Mr. Towey for his service to the Saint Vincent College community. “Jim Towey did an outstanding job as president. There have been many great accomplishments and positive developments during his time at Saint Vincent, including the deepening of the College community’s commitment to our mission. He also has succeeded in moving the College from being a well-respected regional college to a nationally-recognized college of excellence. Thanks in no small part to his leadership, Saint Vincent has the faculty and staff to carry this momentum forward.”

Chairman Donahue also praised Mr. Towey for his leadership. “Jim Towey brought a delightful blend of dedication and accomplishment to the Saint Vincent community. I am proud to have served as Chairman during his presidency. I wish Jim, Mary and their family all the best.”

In announcing today his decision to step down in June, Mr. Towey emphasized that his term in office is not over and that much work remains to be done. “The goodbyes can be saved for the summer – we still have a lot to accomplish and I want to leave Saint Vincent in excellent shape for my successor,” Mr. Towey stated. “I am sharing my plans today so that the College can conduct an orderly transition. We owe our students, faculty, staff, alumni and loyal supporters no less.”

Prior to his service at Saint Vincent, Mr. Towey served at the White House as director of the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives and as legal counsel to Mother Teresa and volunteer in her missions.

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