ST. BONAVENTURE - After almost 20 years of service to the university, the last 12 as its president, St. Bonaventure University President Sister Margaret Carney, OSF, announced her decision to step down from the position on July 31.
"This decision is not an easy one since the relationships at the heart of our St. Bonaventure community have become more precious with each passing year," Sister Margaret told faculty, staff, students and alumni in an email earlier today.
"The Rule and Life by which I fulfill my Franciscan vows states the following: 'No one is to appropriate any office or ministry whatsoever; rather each should willingly relinquish it when the time comes.' (Chapter 8, Art. 27). That time has come for me. I have served using the talents that are mine and I have done my best to serve well. It is time to make room for a new leader whose competencies will be equal to the new and very different demands of the next decade."
Sister Margaret, who turns 75 in July, said the university is in the process of completing a new strategic plan, following a highly successful institutional accreditation process in the fall of 2014. She said a new plan will also require new funding, foreshadowing a capital campaign on the horizon.
"Closely tied to the development of a new plan is the need to find resources to fund it. Whether that will take the form of a new, multi-year, comprehensive campaign or some other fundraising program, our donors need to have confidence that the school's leadership is equal to the tasks for which they are providing hard-earned money."
Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Diocese of Buffalo praised Sister Margaret's service to the Bonaventure community.
"I have deep personal esteem for Sister Margaret, and am grateful for her service to St. Bonaventure University, which has maintained its strong Franciscan heritage and continuing presence in our diocese," the bishop said in a statement. "I wish Sister Margaret the very best in the years ahead, and I look forward to continuing collaboration with the University."
Board of Trustees Chair Robert Daugherty, retired partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, lauded Sister Margaret's service.
"Words cannot begin to express the gratitude and respect the Board of Trustees has for this remarkable leader. Sister Margaret's esteemed tenure took this university from a dark hour to a place in the sun; a place of honor and academic excellence. SBU graduates the world over, our faculty, staff and students, and our regional communities are forever indebted to her. She stands as a hallmark of the Franciscan spirit and ethical character of this great university."
Daugherty said the Board will begin immediately to work on the succession and transition plans.
"The most important responsibility assigned to a university governing board is the search, selection and appointment of a president. Therefore, being effective and successful at recruiting and selecting St. Bonaventure's next president will be our focus. The timing of Sister Margaret's announcement and intended departure provide the Board ample opportunity to proceed upon an ideal succession plan and transition process."
He stated firmly that the transition period will be marked by continuing progress toward the university's goals.
"Sister Margaret and I agree that the next few months are a time to focus more than ever on the many initiatives and strategies under way to lead our charge to grow enrollments by increasing our competitive academic standing and program relevance in the market. This focus not only characterizes Sister Margaret's legacy, but also propels us forward with momentum during this time of celebration and transition."
Sister Margaret was named president in 2004. Since that time, she has worked with Trustees and the university community to develop a 21st century plan for educational excellence in a student-centered learning environment.
Her tenure is marked by curriculum enhancement, unprecedented campus development, the achievement of myriad fundraising records, and an unwavering commitment to student success.
Prior to being inaugurated as president, Sister Margaret served as the dean and director of the Franciscan Institute of St. Bonaventure. The Institute operates a center for research and textual scholarship in the field of Franciscan/medieval theology, history and philosophy and a school that educates leaders for the various branches of the Franciscan religious orders in the Catholic Church.
"As we begin this transition process, we will also celebrate Sister Margaret's extraordinary contributions and look forward to what she will bring to the university in a new role. In her nearly 20 years of service, she has developed the admiration, trust and love of the university's alumni, faculty, staff, students and many friends by always making herself available for the things that matter to people," Daugherty said.
"There's no way to replace her," he said, "but we will honor all she has done by finding the very best person to succeed her and take the university to even greater levels of success and service."