In the days leading up to my announcement as president of Saint Joseph’s University, I spent a lot of time reflecting. What experiences in my life and career led to that moment? What decisions influenced my path? Who are the people who guided me along the way?
In all of this reflection, it occurred to me that in Jesuit education — whether here on the east coast, half a country away in Missouri or half the world away — it always comes down to the people, the connections and the mission. And there’s no denying that Saint Joseph’s was always whispering in my ear.
In my first job as a professor at Rockhurst University, my dean was none other than Nicholas S. Rashford, S.J., the 25th president of Saint Joseph’s. Then there’s Thomas Curran, S.J., former president of Rockhurst, who is a Philadelphia native and graduate of our EMBA program. And of course, there's my predecessor, Dr. Mark C. Reed, who brought me to Saint Joseph’s to begin this incredible journey.
These leaders have served as my mentors and I’ve taken essential lessons and skills from each of them. But above all, their deep faith in and commitment to the Jesuit Catholic mission has deepened my own. My vision is to execute on our mission clearly, creatively and completely. This is always our work to develop students for personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.
The Jesuits who founded this University gave us the vision. It’s up to us to follow that path, guided by our mission, wherever it takes us. I’m starting on that path with an insistence that we are “Always. Forward.”
Cheryl A. McConnell, PhD, 29th president of Saint Joseph’s University
The Jesuits who founded this University gave us the vision. It’s up to us to follow that path, guided by our mission, wherever it takes us. I’m starting on that path with an insistence that we are “Always. Forward.” Always guided by our mission, true to our values and anchored by a liberal arts core. And forward: in our desire to financially support deserving students; in our academic endeavors to create programs that respond to student desire and answer societal needs; in our plans to enhance the student experience through the campus facilities; and in our mission to be individuals with and for others who use education for the greater good.
As you read through our latest issue of Saint Joseph’s University Magazine, I am confident that you will find our "always forward" philosophy palpable. Our community members are making the spaces around them more inclusive, supporting future generations and generating new discoveries. Our University is launching in-demand programs; introducing state-of-the-art technology; and investing in financial aid and academics and remodeling areas key to student learning and experience — all while maintaining the core of who we will always be.
It’s an exciting time at Saint Joseph’s, and I look forward to all we will accomplish together in the years to come.
Cheryl A. McConnell, PhD
Cheryl A. McConnell, PhD, joins Saint Joseph’s University as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.
Under the direction of Dr. McConnell, the University launches its first Day of Dialogue featuring events, lectures and workshops to increase diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. McConnell engineers the University’s pivot to hybrid learning. Saint Joseph’s is one of three Philadelphia universities to maintain an in-person presence during the first year of the pandemic.
Saint Joseph’s completes a historic merger agreement with the University of the Sciences, acquiring dozens of academic programs in health and science — the integration of which is spearheaded by Dr. McConnell.
The University launches a $300-million comprehensive campaign, SOAR, to fund multiple capital projects, increase access to education through financial aid and scholarships, and further academic and mission innovation.
Mark C. Reed, EdD, steps down as president of the University and Dr. McConnell is named interim president by the Board of Trustees.
Saint Joseph’s announces a merger agreement with the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences, led by Dr. McConnell. The merger is expected to close in January 2024.
Dr. McConnell is unanimously elected the 29th and first female president of Saint Joseph’s University.