St. John’s University celebrates the inauguration of the 18th President, the Reverend Brian J. Shanley, OP, Ph.D.
On a day that started with heavy rain but ended with bright sunshine and a warm breeze, the Rev. Brian J. Shanley, OP, Ph.D., president of St. John’s University, was officially installed in his new role after taking office in February.
Bro. Shanley’s investiture took place on September 24 on the campus of Queens, NY, in a ceremony that recalled the academic heraldry which forms the foundation of all institutions of higher education.
During his address, Fr. Shanley drew parallels between the Order of Preachers, also known as Dominicans, to which it belongs, and the Congregation of the Mission, also known as Vincentians, which has founded St. John’s. After further reflection, he said: “I realized that there is a lot more in Vincentians that I didn’t see because I too easily assimilated them into the pattern that was most familiar to me: my own order. “
He added: “I needed to explore what is new, different and exciting in the Vincentian community to understand why God brought me here.
At the heart of the Vincentian charism is the loving service of the poor, which is the service of Christ himself, Fr Shanley underlined. “The best way to lift a person out of poverty is with a college degree, and that must remain central to who we are as a university,” he said. He added that at the heart of St. John’s work is also the study and exploration of the systemic structures that produce exclusion, marginalization and injustice.
Bro. Shanley wants to imitate St. Vincent de Paul’s talent for collaboration and organization. “These are virtues that we need in St. John’s,” he explained. “To thrive, we need to emulate Vincent’s genius for collaboration and for leveraging the talents of others, especially our alumni. We need to do a better job engaging our alumni in the mission of our university. “
Bro. Shanley also spoke of the need for intellectual humility, which he believes is an essential part of a Vincentian university. “It is a virtue that allows us to assume our intellectual limits in the service of the pursuit of a deeper truth. It is aimed at both teachers and students. It is the desire to reconsider one’s points of view, to avoid the defensive and the need to always be right. It involves openness to the obvious and an orientation to the truth wherever it is found.
“Since arriving at St. John’s University, Fr. Shanley has demonstrated that he has the experience and passion, and that he is equipped with the leadership skills, necessary to move the University forward in leadership. that we want to take, both now and in the future, ”said William J. Janetschek ’84CBA,’ 17HON, chairman of the university board and retired partner and CFO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. LP the St. John’s Experience.
Bro. Shanley’s dear friend and successor as President of Providence College, Reverend Kenneth R. Sicard, OP, blessed the ceremony. Earlier today, he reflected on his relationship with Fr. Shanley. “Brian and I have been friends for over 35 years and I was fortunate enough to be his Executive Vice President when he was President of Providence College.”
“It allowed me to witness first-hand the many decisions he made, all of which bore the imprint of his leadership style, a style characterized by wisdom, collaboration, kindness, compassion and care. strength. This strong leadership, along with his extraordinary vision, defined his presidency and made him so successful. We are a better and stronger institution because of him. I have no doubt that he will have as much impact in St. John’s as he was in Providence, and that God will continue to bless him in this important new ministry.
Reverend James J. Maher, CM, President of St. John’s University sister institution, Niagara University, offered his congratulations to Fr Shanley as well. “St. John’s is fortunate to have Fr. Shanley as its 18th President. He is a wonderful priest and educator and considered an exemplary leader in Catholic higher education. He is a man of immense intellectual gifts who lives the creed of Saint Dominic de Guzman, founder of the Dominican Order: “Have charity among yourselves, hold fast to humility. As priest, president and member of the Congregation of the Mission, I am honored to welcome Fr. Shanley to the Vincentian family.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio Ph.D., DD ’08HON, Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY, noted that a spirit of ecumenism now permeated St. John’s University, as a Dominican priest was called to lead a Vincentian university . “The diversity of this university and its surroundings is something we can be proud of,” said Bishop DiMarzio, adding: “Because we see that people of great diversity can live in peace with each other – and this university is a microcosm of that diversity.
Representatives of the University’s student, faculty and alumni communities also welcomed Fr. Shanley during the ceremony.
Criminal Justice Major Hajarah Dar, a junior, noted that her first interaction with Fr. Shanley was on a conference call in February. “Fr. Shanley wanted to meet with some of the student leaders on campus to discuss the realities of being a St. John’s student. As young adults all living in uncertainty about the pandemic, it was heartwarming to know that someone wanted to contact us and see how we were doing. “
Hajarah added, “On behalf of the student body, we want you to know that we are ready to collaborate with you… We place our trust in you and know that you will uphold our core values. Your success is our success. We are delighted to have you join us and wish you all the best for years to come. “
Tarik S. Turner ’98C, Managing Director, Institutional Equities, AllianceBernstein LP; Basketball TV Studio Analyst, FS1 Television; and a member of the board of trustees of St. John’s University, noted that Fr. Shanley is a huge sports fan and a visionary leader with a deep commitment to student success. “He has an excellent track record of improving student enrollment and academic success. He is someone who can inspire as a leader, friend and confidant.
He added, “His humility and willingness to listen make him accessible to students. It has a good balance between giving people the opportunity to do their jobs, but also empowering them. One term we use in athletics is “high motor skills,” someone with high energy, who can engage with people, whether they are students, alumni, teachers or donors. potentials. Bro. Shanley took over and demonstrated collaborative leadership.
“With the arrival of Fr. Shanley, we continue to grow as individuals and as an institution to showcase the best of St. John’s,” said Sharon See, Pharm.D., BCPS, BCGP, FCCP, Clinical Professor and Assistant Director, Department of Clinical Health Professions. , Faculty of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. “Change can be difficult, but now is the time to explore new ideas and hope for a fresh start. “
Before the investiture is officially celebrated by Mr. Janetschek, the Most Reverend Stephen M. Grozio, CM, Provincial Superior, Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, and Vice-President, Board of Trustees, St. John’s University , offered a command prayer for Bro. Shanley. “We promise you our support and our fidelity in this magnificent Vincentian educational mission which you are now undertaking with the help of God and the guidance of Saint Vincent de Paul himself.
Bro. Shanley was then presented with the symbols of his office: the presidential badges, indicative of the university life of the University; the presidential medallion, symbol of his high office; and the St. John’s University Mace. The Mace symbolizes professors and students and announces by its presence that those who follow it possess the power of higher education, which dispels the darkness of ignorance and oppression.
Closing the ceremony, a catchy rendition of “Feeling Good” was performed by Remy A. Martin ’16P,’ 18GEd, St. John’s Voices of Victory, and the Mixed Chorus, under the direction of Nigel W. Gretton, Director, Arts from the scene .
“Thank you for inviting me to learn from Vincentians,” said Fr. Shanley. “I sincerely believe that is why God brought me here.”