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Wilkes President Leahy Leaving For Monmouth Job

December 15, 2018
Wilkes President Leahy Leaving For Monmouth Job

Patrick F. Leahy announced Friday he’s stepping down as Wilkes University president in July to become president of Monmouth University in New Jersey.

Dan Cardell, chairman of the university’s Board of Trustees, said he was not surprised by Leahy’s decision because of his age, 50, and “where he’s at in his career.” Cardell said the Monmouth job is a step up for Leahy, especially because that university has Division I sports.

“It’s tough. He’s been a great leader. Personally I’m happy for him,” Cardell said, adding the university will have “big shoes to fill.”

The board of trustees announced in March 2012 that Leahy was chosen to be the university’s sixth president. He was executive vice president at the University of Scranton then and officially took over at Wilkes in July 2012, succeeding Tim Gilmour, who retired.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve Wilkes University for the past seven years,” Leahy said in a released statement. “This is not a decision my family and I made lightly, mainly due to the wonderful relationships we have established in and around Wilkes-Barre and the Wilkes community. I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished at Wilkes over the past several years, and I look forward to continuing this exciting progress in the coming months.”

Cardell said the university will start looking for a new president by first establishing a search committee and hiring a professional recruiter. The board may appoint an interim president for a year if there isn’t enough time to hire a new president for the start of the 2019-20 academic year, Cardell said.

 

The university should be able to “attract top notch candidates” because of improvements at the university during Leahy’s tenure, Cardell said, noting “a significant reinvestment in the Sordoni Art Gallery,” the establishment of the region’s only collegiate marching band and the addition of seven new Division III athletic teams.

Leahy launched a $100 million initiative “that has transformed the physical landscape of campus and better integrated Wilkes into the surrounding downtown,” Cardell said. Two years after becoming university president, Leahy and the board agreed to a five-year contract extension, Cardell added.

“He changed the whole attitude on campus,” Cardell said. “He was very visible. Students loved him. He had great relationships with the community and politicians.”

State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski, D-121, Wilkes-Barre, is a 1967 Wilkes graduate. Pashinski said he and state Sen. John Yudichak, D-14, Plymouth Twp., were able to get state grants for Wilkes University projects because Leahy put together solid plans and moved quickly to execute the plans.

“He put together a terrific team, and he had a great vision,” Pashinski said.

Yudichak released a statement Friday.

“Pat Leahy was a transformational leader at Wilkes University who set the college on a trajectory to become one of the nation’s best small research universities,” Yudichak said. “While it is bittersweet to see a talented community leader move on to new opportunities, I’m grateful for the contribution Pat made to Wilkes-Barre, and I wish him and his family the best.”

Other accomplishments during Leahy’s tenure include: the introduction of 20 new academic programs; enrollment growth in online master’s programs and doctoral degrees, including the launch of the university’s first Ph.D. program; and investments in research, resulting in the university’s first five patents.

Paige Gallagher received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Wilkes in May, and she accepted a one-year job working as an assistant in Leahy’s office. She said she was upset after learning Leahy was leaving Wilkes.

“Besides crying, I went to Dr. Leahy to let him know his commitment and passion have been remarkable,” she said.

Leahy was very involved with students and student activities, said Gallagher, who went to Stroudsburg High School.

“He knows the majority of students by their first names, which is crazy,” she said.

Leahy’s compensation package was more than $417,000 in 2016, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, which ranks the executive compensations packages of the nation’s university and college leaders and released a report Monday with 2016 numbers.

Paul R. Brown, Monmouth’s president from 2014 to 2017, had a compensation package of more than $807,000 in 2016, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education report.

A native of Towson, Md., Leahy graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Georgetown University, earned dual masters degrees from Cornell University in business administration and labor relations and earned a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Leahy and his wife, Amy, have four children: Grace, 20; Molly, 18; Jack, 14; and Brian, 12. Leahy was a senior administrative leader at the University of Scranton from 2004 to 2012, first serving as vice president of university relations.

Contact the writer:

mbuffer@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2073, @cvmikebuffer

 

LEAHY TIMELINE

2004-2012 Leahy works as a senior administrative leader at the University of Scranton, first serving as vice president of university relations and later as executive vice president.

March 2012 The Wilkes University Board of Trustees announces Leahy will be the university’s sixth president.

July 2012 Leahy officially starts as Wilkes University president.

March 2014 Leahy announces Wilkes University’s plans to transform a stretch of downtown Wilkes-Barre into the South Main Street Gateway after buying the former Bartikowsky Jewelers building on South Main Street for $1.2 million.

June 2016 Leahy announces plans to open a new communications center in the former Bartikowsky Jewelers building. The Karambelas Media and Communication Center debuts in August 2017 and includes space for faculty offices, classrooms, WCLH Radio, Wilkes Now television, The Beacon student newspaper, the student-run public relations agency Zebra Communications, and the speech and debate team.

November 2018 Wilkes University celebrates the completion of its $3.3 million Campus Gateway Project, which provided new campus walkways and new entrances to the Henry Student Center parking lot from South River and South Franklin streets.

Dec. 14, 2018 Leahy announces he will step down as Wilkes University president in July to become president of Monmouth University.

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