President JoAnne Boyle Announces Plans to Retire from Seton Hill University in June 2013
JoAnne Boyle, Ph.D., Seton Hill University’s longest serving president, plans to retire June 30, 2013, or when a successor is named. The announcement was made by Michele Moore Ridge, chair of the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees. Boyle was named president in 1987 and is in her 25th year at the helm of the University.
“President Boyle has been an outstanding leader for Seton Hill University,” said Ridge. “Under President Boyle’s leadership, Seton Hill has experienced an incredible transformation from a small women’s undergraduate college to a coeducational university with an enrollment of more than 2,500 students. She has worked diligently to strengthen the University’s academic and financial foundations and has led Seton Hill forward by focusing campus resources on programs, faculty, key personnel and facilities that position the University as an educational leader in the nation. With great admiration, the Board of Trustees expresses its deep gratitude to JoAnne for her tremendous work, long-term commitment and abiding devotion to Seton Hill University.”
Ridge also announced that the Board is in the process of formalizing the search process to select Boyle’s successor. A selection committee, chaired by Ridge, will be created and composed of trustees, alumni, faculty and student representatives. The selection committee will review candidates and recommend finalists to the Board of Trustees.
Ridge continued, “President Boyle has prepared us well for this moment in our history. During the last decade, the University raised over $105 million in gifts and pledges for the renovation and construction of facilities, the expansion of academic programs and the Seton Hill endowment. We recently completed the strategic plan for 2013-2018 that is grounded in our mission as a Catholic liberal arts institution; we are currently in the leadership gift phase of fund raising that will support Seton Hill’s $90 million campus expansion plan and we remain committed to enhancing the City of Greensburg’s status as a premier destination. Seton Hill University has a clear vision for the future and is poised for this presidential transition.”
Boyle was at the forefront of leaders who recognized the value of a university to the economic stabilization and growth of downtowns. Shortly after Seton Hill’s plans for the Performing Arts Center in downtown Greensburg solidified, the University and the City received recognition from the Brookings Institute as a model program for the way universities can drive economic development in communities.
In 2004, the Tribune-Review editorialized about the construction of the Performing Arts Center. “The Power of Partnerships” stated, “What’s especially noteworthy about this project—separate from its obvious benefits for the city—has been the coming together of university officials, city leaders, The Westmoreland Trust, the local school district and the public…The result is development grounded in a shared vision to meet mutual needs. City leaders and the university have opened the discussion to Greensburg merchants for their input. What a refreshing change from unilateral development decisions that routinely bulldoze past the court of public opinion.”
Enrollment at Seton Hill has grown 60 percent in the last decade. The University’s construction of the Performing Arts Center, improvements to the downtown Troutman Building Annex for Seton Hill’s Visual Arts Program and the addition of a location of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) on the University’s campus (LECOM at Seton Hill), spurred an unprecedented boom in building and development in the City that, according to data from an economic impact study prepared by EconImpact, LLC., totaled more than $120 million.
Under Boyle’s leadership, capital campaign fund raising restored the University’s historic Administration Building and led to the construction of the Katherine Mabis McKenna Center, two residence halls, Farrell Hall and DeChantal Hall, the Athletic Field House, athletic fields and the Performing Arts Center. More than 100 new endowed scholarship funds have been created during Boyle’s tenure to help ensure the affordability of a Seton Hill education for thousands of students. Michele Ridge commented, “Containing costs and providing students with generous financial aid awards have been hallmarks of President Boyle’s administration.” The University has experienced 14 years of balanced budgets and operating surpluses.
The University currently offers more than 80 undergraduate programs, 10 graduate programs, an adult degree program, online courses, several advanced certifications, and academic partnerships with educational institutions around the globe. During Boyle’s tenure, Seton Hill strengthened its international faculty and student exchange programs, established the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (featuring The Ethel LeFrak Holocaust Education Conference), opened a Women’s Business Center, a Center for Family Therapy, a Center for Orthodontics and the Wukich Center for Entrepreneurial Opportunities.
Seton Hill’s unique “iPad for Everyone” initiative, providing mobile technology to faculty and students, a campus-wide wireless network and technological infrastructure, and in-depth faculty training, caught the public eye. The University has been featured on Good Morning America, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wired, the Huffington Post, the United Kingdom’s Telegraph and newspapers, blogs, websites and radio shows of every type around the world.
Boyle has written about mobile learning, “In my many years of college experience, I believe that nothing has changed the landscape of education the way mobile technology has. When the Oxford English Dictionary was first published—or when the first encyclopedia was released—people were stunned by such a treasure trove of knowledge. Of course, both can be found now using the iPad—along with so much more, all at your fingertips. By embedding mobile technology into a rigorous learning environment, we, as educators, are not only providing students with unimpeded access to all the world’s learning, we are also supplying them with the tools to create new ideas, new art, new horizons.”
Boyle’s tenure at Seton Hill is marked by the addition of programs of national prominence, including the LECOM opportunity and the University’s highly ranked physician assistant program and the Center for Orthodontics. A 25 percent increase in health sciences enrollment includes undergraduate and graduate programs in the natural and health sciences including nutrition and dietetics, art therapy, music therapy, and marriage and family therapy.
In recent years, Boyle led the institution’s move to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II and its latest move into the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). In 2012, Seton Hill was recognized as the highest academic ranking school in the NCAA Division II East Region. Annually, the NCAA Division II Athletic Directors’ Association presents academic awards for student-athletes with a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher and have completed four semesters. Seton Hill had 85 student-athletes recognized and ranked fourth in Division II for academic achievement.
Boyle has served as board chair of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and the International Women’s Forum of Pennsylvania. Boyle has been on the boards of the Economic Growth Connection, Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, the University of Pittsburgh’s College of Arts and Sciences Board of Visitors, Westmoreland Museum of American Art and the Honor Board at WQED. She is a former board member of the Council for Independent Colleges and Universities, 10,000 Friends of Pennsylvania, Steel Industry Heritage Corporation, United Way of Westmoreland County and Westmoreland Regional Health System.
Prior to becoming president, JoAnne Boyle served as professor of English at Seton Hill and chair of the English Department. She received a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in English from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree from Seton Hill. Her family includes her husband, Arthur, seven children and numerous grandchildren.