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placeholder Father John Maxwell remembered for bold commitment to social justice

Diocese renews focus on stewardship as way of life, not a fundraising tool

Mercy Sister speaks of ministry of listening, an art of spiritual direction

Mental health needs strain Haiti’s recovery

Vatican cautious
about growth of first synthetic cell

Pope urges joint efforts to help migrants, refugees

Catholic Campaign for Human Development local grant applications are due July 31

Catholic Communication Campaign collection will take place June 12-13 in Oakland Diocese

• Sister Mary Gregory Allen, PBVM
• Sister Madelene Rowden, OP

Special section

Tribute to the Class of 2010

Students at merged schools succeed as Freedom Writers

Perennial favorite transfers classroom to former student

Hayward teacher of 40 years retires, leaving legacy of respect, kindness

Nine earn Master’s degree in pastoral ministries from HNU

SJND students on sojourn to the Past, walk in footsteps of civil rights history

Collegians dispel myths that keep urban kids from college

New HNU president brings academic, business acumen

Catholic high school graduates more likely to attend college

International study broadens collegians’ perspectives

$100,000 grant for first-generation students at Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont

FACE continues to provide grants to help low-income students in Catholic schools

Fontbonne Forum examines digital impact

Website shows how to promote social justice in college

A sampling of student activities

placeholder June 7, 2010   •   VOL. 48, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA

New HNU president brings
academic, business acumen

William J. Hynes brought with him all the requisite qualifications to be considered as president of Holy Names University, but the 16th president, Sister Rosemarie Nassif, asked the tough questions.

William J. Hynes

“If you are offered the position, and if you decide to come, why will you come?”
“I will come because of the students,” he said, correctly.

On Aug. 1, Hynes will become the 17th president of 142-year-old university in the Oakland hills, adding to a resume that traces a long academic career that includes, most recently, president of St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, from 2000 to 2008; vice president of academic affairs at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, from 1990 to 2000, and earlier, dean of the College at Regis University in Denver.

He is, of course, a known entity in Catholic higher education in the United States, not only as an educator but as a successful fundraiser. The Hynes resume — from a doctorate in the history of American religious thought from the University of Chicago through years of teaching and administrative positions — includes this statistic: He raised $80 million while at St. Norbert, a liberal arts college in De Pere, WI.

“What jumped out of Bill’s resume and our meetings with him was the likelihood that he had the most experience and best appreciation for the issues that one would face in that kind of a transition,” succeeding Nassif, who is retiring, said Ronald V. Rosequist, an Oakland lawyer and chair of the Board of Trustees of HNU.

“He has a lot of experience in fundraising, academics and business acumen, so we definitely have the right person to do the job,” said Rosequist.

Legacy of Sister Rosemarie Nassif

Nassif, president for the past 11 years, helped launch a five-year strategic development plan in 2007, led successful re-accreditation reviews and returned the university to stable financial footing with an operating surplus over the past eight years, according to the university.

When Nassif arrived at Holy Names, she learned that her code name on campus was “The Tornado,” she wrote last year in HNU Today, a magazine for alumni and friends.
The meteorological tag for a president seen as a transforming leader with an abundance of positive energy suggests the bar is set high for her successor, and Hynes knows it, but he doesn’t believe that providing a smooth transition and making his own mark are counterposed.

“She has stabilized the institution, has increased the retention of the student body and, I think, provided a face of enthusiasm and energy and integrity that people come to value. That is a large role to fill. I hope I will be able to do it,” he said.

His strategy, he said, as he completes the plan Nassif launched and begins another, is to be “an open-process kind of guy.” He added, “I think a good president is a good listener who asks, ‘What are our needs here? How are we out of alignment? What do we need to do?’ I know that creates a huge laundry list, but at least you can listen, and can start prioritizing.”

Program and faculty growth

The university, with 1,114 students, undergraduate and graduate, with an 11:1 student/faculty ratio, looks to have 1,600 students in 10 years or so, said Rosequist. Accordingly, there were will be program and faculty growth along the way.

The university wants to invest in technology-related infrastructures, increase annual fund contributions by 30 percent, reaching $1 million by 2012, secure $4 million in new planned gift commitments by 2012. The new president will actively engage with Oakland and deepen the link between the traditions of the founding Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and the community, while increasing awareness of the university.

Hynes and his wife, Margaret Anne Shurgot Hynes, bring a record of engagement in the area, including Hynes’ service at Saint Mary’s for a decade. Their sons, Kieran and Devin, attended Bentley School in Oakland and, before that, various Montessori schools in the East Bay. Margaret Hynes held executive fund-raising positions with the San Francisco Symphony, the Campaign to Restore the War Memorial Opera House and the California College of the Arts.

Sisters arrive in 1868

Holy Names dates to May 10, 1868, when six Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, a teaching order founded to provide education to the poor, arrived in California from Montreal. The college, long on the shore of Lake Merritt, in 1957 was moved to its present site on 60 wooded acres in the Oakland hills. It has almost always been presided over by the Holy Names Sisters.

The lay presidents have been Mary Alice Muellerleile, 1992-1997, and Neil Thorburn, who served an interim term, 1997-1999. Nassif is of a different religious order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

When the search committee and its consultant began inquiring about Nassif’s successor, it became clear that with the relative dearth of potential candidates from religious communities because of their decline in membership, Holy Names would likely be “transitioning to lay leadership,” said Rosequist.

Hynes fit the bill, he said, given his background in Catholic education, his understanding of religious orders, his academic life, his religious studies and his experience, said Rosequist. “That led us to conclude that we would have a good chance at really making this transition effective,” he said.

Indeed, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary will be the fifth order Hynes has served in his career. “So I value, and I think people value the fact I value, coming to know the religious order and its history, its ethos, its mission, because one of the greatest things we have is this mission and this experience and you can mine that. It’s like a natural resource,” he said.

Hynes is the author of three books and is working on a fourth, on the “Principles of Entrepreneurship.” At 69, he thinks he is still in his stride.

“I am motivated by ideas,” he said. “I am motivated by wanting to make things happen and that gives me great joy. There is very little that gives me more joy than to be part of an institution where we make a whole new set of things happen together, for the good of Oakland, for the good of the Catholic Church, for the good of Holy Names University. That is the challenge,” he said.

The other day, the first mail addressed to Hynes at Holy Names was delivered. One letter was from a friend, the Rev. Stephen A. Privett, the Jesuit president of the University of San Francisco, welcoming him back to the Bay Area and wishing him well. The other was from Summer Young, a sixth-grader at Sequoia Middle School in Pleasant Hill.

“I am wondering if you can send me and my class any cool stuff to display in our classroom,” she wrote as part of an assignment to write business letters. “I am hoping I can hear from you by May 25.”

“She is executive material,” said Hynes.

How to be a successful student

When asked what Summer needs to do to be successful, were she to enroll one day at Holy Names, he said, “You can talk about what she needs to be able to do and you can talk about what needs to be in place for her to be able to do that,” he said. “There already is a lot in place.

“I would think that Summer needs to be able to read carefully, she needs to be able to write well. I think she is already doing that. She needs to be able to speak persuasively. She needs to have numerical ability.

“She needs to be able to not be scared by money questions. She needs to be able to understand how to make a living, and most importantly she needs to understand how to give back to the community. And that is the liberal arts approach to creating a well-rounded, well-educated person,” he said.

Hynes added, “She needs to not only be encouraged to have ambitions, but she needs to have the wherewithal to achieve those ambitions, and by that I don’t mean necessarily economical. I mean she needs to be well-organized, that she has to have drive and discipline and she has to, in a sense, not count the cost.”

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