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placeholder August 8, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
Interim president named at Holy Names University

Jeanie Watson

Jeanie Watson, former president at Nebraska Wesleyan University, has been named interim president at Holy Names University in Oakland, effective Aug. 11.

Watson succeeds William J. Hynes, who stepped down as HNU president after six years.

"We are excited that Dr. Watson will be leading the university and contributing to this institution from her impressive breadth of experience and many leadership roles in higher education," said Barbara Hood, chair of the HNU Board of Trustees.

Watson formerly was a dean at Tulane University and had other leadership roles at Hamline University and Southwestern University. In addition she has been on the teaching faculty at the University of Nebraska, Marshall University, Rhodes College and Stonehill College; director and higher education specialist at TIAA-CREF; and associate vice president of development at the University of Minnesota Medical Foundation.

Hynes established the Early Admit Program to prepare high school students for college, and was also a founding member of Oakland Promise to offer increased scholarship support for high school graduates. He also created the James Durbin Entrepreneurship Speaker Series and supported the founding of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and the Social Justice Forum. Hynes also led the effort to move Holy Names University Athletics to NCAA Division II status. During his tenure, "US News & World Report" cited HNU as one of the county's most diverse universities, and the New American Foundation cited it as one of the most affordable private universities in the country.

Hynes was out of the country and unavailable for comment. But in a news release, the former president expressed his gratitude for having had the opportunity "to lead this amazing university and the community it represents."

"I am keenly aware of the privilege and blessing it is to witness the transitions of our students, who have been indelibly shaped by the core values of the Sisters and the leadership of our faculty and professional staff," Hynes wrote.

A one year national search will begin shortly for a long-term president, with the goal of having the new leader on campus for the 2017-18 school year, said Hood. In the meantime the trustees see this transition as an opportunity to "see how we are doing," which includes taking stock of the students who enroll at HNU, especially those from Oakland and surrounding communities to gain a better understanding of their needs.

The board also plans to work with Watson and look at the campus' academic offerings in light of the economic reality of the region. "We want to see how consumer-friendly we are."

Other recently announced appointments include: Alan Liebrecht as vice president for enrollment management. Prior to his appointment at HNU, Liebrecht served as dean of admission services at Marymount California University in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Michael Groener was named vice president for finance and administration. Prior to Groener's arrival, Tom Hannen, former CFO of Notre Dame de Namur University, oversaw the finance and administration operations of HNU on an interim basis. Before his appointment at HNU, Groener served as CFO and vice president of finance at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where he oversaw finance and business affairs, human resources, IT and risk management.

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