SAINT ANSELM COLLEGE/ANSELM.EDU
President Steven R. DiSalvo announced today that he will step down from his position as president of Saint Anselm College on June 30, 2019. He first informed the Board of Trustees at today’s meeting, and then shortly afterward sent an email to the Saint Anselm community detailing his resignation.
Dr. DiSalvo’s announcement was greeted with mixed reactions on campus. His resignation comes on the heels of other high profile departures, such as the previous Chief Financial Officer Eric Norman, as well as the 14 staff members laid off five months ago at the end of May, a decision DiSalvo made in an effort to eliminate a projected deficit.
A search committee is currently being formed in search of President DiSalvo’s successor; the committee will be headed by Board of Trustees vice chair Geraldine DeLuca ’77 and trustee Charles Crowley ’81.
If the college follows the procedures of its first formal presidential search, it will secure the assistance of a search firm to aid in seeking qualified applicants for the position.
“It is with a great many emotions that I write today to inform you that on June 30, 2019, I will be stepping down from my position,” President DiSalvo wrote in his campus wide email.
“As I make this announcement,” he wrote, “I am filled with pride in the progress that we at Saint Anselm have made, and deep gratitude for the privilege of leading this unique college. In true Benedictine fashion, you welcomed me and my family into the Anselmian family when we first arrived, and I will always treasure my years on the Hilltop.”
President DiSalvo said that he was “pleased and confident” that his successor in the position will “find [Saint Anselm College] in a position of strength and security for many years to come.”
It was clarified that “the [search] committee will be made up of representatives from college constituent groups including Saint Anselm Abbey, the administration, the faculty, the student body, and the alumni community, who will work with a search firm to determine [President DiSalvo’s] successor.”
President DiSalvo joined the Saint Anselm community as its 10th president in July of 2013—making this academic year his sixth at the College—after serving as president of Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, between the years 2010 and 2013.
He received his Ph.D. in educational leadership, as well as an M.B.A. in marketing and a B.S. in psychology at Fordham University.
“This is a challenging time in higher education,” President DiSalvo said, “but with God’s blessing and the commitment of our dedicated students, faculty, staff, monastic community and Board of Trustees, Saint Anselm has thrived, and my faith in the future of this college is stronger than ever.”
It is worth noting that Dr. DiSalvo has had some significant achievements over the past five years as the college’s first lay president. He succeeded Father Jonathan P. DeFelice, O.S.B., in the top administration post.
He was a principal figure in the construction and opening of the $16.5 million Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex.
Dr. DiSalvo also aided in the establishment of the study abroad program in Orvieto, Italy, as well as leading the College to its 95th ranking in the U.S. News and World Report on the top 100 national liberal arts colleges.
He launched the Faith in the Future Capital Campaign as an effort to increase the College’s “infrastructure spending,” of which $62 million has already been raised. The goal for the campaign rests at $70 million.
Additionally, as reported in The Union Leader’s recent article about Dr. DiSalvo’s resignment, “the school’s endowment grew 50 percent from $106 million to $158 million.”
This year the College is preparing for its 2019 New England Council of Higher Education, or NECHE, review. This review comes every 10 years. The council was previously known as NEASC—New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Dr. DiSalvo’s departure will fall after the site visit in April by NECHE, meaning that he will be at the college through all or at least for the better part of the review.
The Saint Anselm community has shown mixed reactions to President DiSalvo’s stepping down after the end of this academic year.
When asked for a response to the recent news, Senior English major Jenna Lyons from Northborough, MA, said, “While I’m glad the school is taking steps to address the issues that occurred, I’m worried that it won’t take care of the entire problem.”
“The general consensus and feeling on campus is that this is a bureaucratic issue—DiSalvo is just taking the fall because he’s the head of the college,” she continued. “The people in charge are running this institutionally as a business with a focus on money, specifically, it seems, the money that they may or may not lose.”
Lyons noted that President DiSalvo stepping down “doesn’t necessarily solve the problems of communication that were the focus in the first place.”
She referred to the petition created by the student group, SAC Students 4 Change, which gained considerable traction over the summer. More than 1,100 students, alumni, and others signed the petition.
The petition was a direct call to action for the Saint Anselm community to “call for greater transparency and communication” at the College.
“I hope the next president makes some changes so the decisions made in alumni offices help the students and the faculty and staff, not just the school’s image or budget,” Lyons concluded.
Additionally, Senior English major Haley Lyons from Northborough, MA, told The Crier, “While I am glad that changes are being made to the school’s administration, I am concerned this announcement has come too late. This transparency on the part of the president is something that would have been valued during the period of transition over the summer.”
Lyons said, “The fact that the layoffs have still not been addressed does not positively contribute to the trust that Anselmians have in the College.”
Most students have admitted to assuming that President DiSalvo would resign by the end of the academic year.
Lyons clarified, “I believe the information of this being President DiSalvo’s last academic year as president was common knowledge; this announcement simply explained when these changes would occur.”
Recent graduate Lauren Batchelder ’18 contacted The Crier to add: “I am incredibly excited for Saint Anselm College to find a new president who will represent the mission of the College and be a visible face on campus. I cannot wait to see who is chosen and am looking forward to having a president who acts as an advocate for the student body.”
The Crier reached out to several members of the College’s administration, but none was available for a comment at the time of publication.