College reacts to DiSalvo’s resignation

Samantha Jette, Copy Editor

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President Steven DiSalvo announced that he will step down from his position as College President by June 30, 2019. The announcement came in an email to the entire college on Oct. 12.

DiSalvo did not provide a reason for his resignation, and simply stated: “This is a challenging time in higher education, 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.”

Faculty Senate President, Dr. Tauna Sisco, was invited to a private meeting with DiSalvo and his cabinet members. In this meeting, which took place less than an hour before the announcement was sent out to the college, DiSalvo informed the group that he would resign.

“My initial reaction was to warmly thank him for his service to our college and wish him and family well. I am grateful that the President chose to include the Faculty Senate in this process,” said Sisco.

Student Government Association Secretary General, Christina Damian, ‘20, stated that she was “definitely not surprised to hear that he was stepping down. Rumors have been flying around since early September about this and I think everyone saw it coming, even if we didn’t know exactly why.”

Damian told the Crier, “I thought that [DiSalvo] was making a really good effort in trying to bring Saint A’s into the league of other schools similar to us like Saint Mike’s and Holy Cross. As a junior, I can look back from when I first toured this school to where it is today, and see a boatload of improvements.”

The improvements that Damian references are not overlooked. DiSalvo will leave behind a legacy in the new developments the college has achieved since he joined in 2013.

Student Body President Joshua Hughes ’20 remarked, “Some of the things that come to my mind when I think about President Disalvo is the new Roger and Francine Jean Student Center Complex, the reconstruction of the coffee shop, and most importantly a Top 100 ranking [in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges]. This is a ranking that years ago we may never have even considered possible, but now something that all of us can take tremendous pride in.”

Alumnus Aidan Denehy ’17 told the Crier, “Although I was never a great fan of many of the changes implemented on the hilltop during DiSalvo’s tenure, I nevertheless realize the positive impact he has had on Saint Anselm College. From the Jean Center to Campus beautification, our school is certainly a better place than he left it.”

While DiSalvo has had many successes during his term, he has not gone without criticism. The recent population expansion has proven to be a controversial element of DiSalvo’s term. Enrollment grew from 508 freshmen at the start of the term to 591 freshmen by 2018.

This has been marked by a seeming overcrowding of college spaces and resources, leaving many wondering if the college is equipped to handle a large population. Denehy said, “I would hope that when the various board members consider ‘successes’ such as increased enrollment, they also consider the downsides that many successes entail, such as rapidly crowding housing accommodations students have when compared to the increased cost of tuition.”

In this time of uncertainty, many wonder who will be appointed as the college’s next President. Hughes stated that, “I think initially after losing a President, it will hit us hard just because we may never know what is next, but I also know that there will be a great process in selecting the next president and I have a tremendous amount of trust in those who will be a part of the selection process.”

In DiSalvo’s email to the college, he wrote that a search committee is currently being formed. Board Vice Chair Geraldine DeLuca ’77 and Trustee Charles Crowley ’81 will head the committee, which will consist of representatives from the Saint Anselm Abbey, the administration, the faculty, the student body, and the alumni community.

While the next College President is unknown, students have a precise idea of characteristics they hope he or she will possess. Damian revealed that “This hilltop needs someone who is familiar with the school and what its students are about. This school is so special and unique, it deserves a president that is equally so and someone who truly understands what it means to be a part of the Saint Anselm Community.”

Denehy hopes that the Board “strongly considers the concerns students have had; most importantly, transparency.”

Hughes’ hopes for the next president also focus on the student body: “I want the next President of the college to always put the students first and always work to make our experience here the best experience possible.” He praises DiSalvo saying, “This is something that President Disalvo did a great job of and I hope whoever comes next can make the same sort of impact.”

Sisco told the Crier that “As faculty senate president, I hope the next president of Saint Anselm College has a collaborative vision for the college moving forward and can communicate across all groups and cultivate the resources in our community to achieve that vision.  Our next president must also have the highest academic credentials and experience in order to understand our curriculum, the role of tenure, and the teaching experience of faculty, which are all foundational to increasing academic excellence at SAC.”

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