Spring 2019 Welcome From the Provost

Provost poses for the camera

This is a special time at Saint Mary’s. In November, the global Lasallian network launched #300LaSalle, a yearlong celebration commemorating the 300th anniversary of the death and educational legacy of Saint John Baptist de La Salle; in mid-January, we kicked off the second annual 44 Days Honoring Black History; this spring, we will be marking the 10th anniversary of the College Committee on Inclusive Excellence (CCIE); and Feb. 1 marked my first anniversary at the College.

It has been quite a year, with both challenges and successes. As I reflect on the year, nothing has altered my initial impression that Saint Mary’s is a truly remarkable place.

I’ll start with some foundational successes. For the second year in a row, we have met our undergraduate revenue targets, and all indications are that we are on track to do so again in fall of 2019. This is no small feat in the current higher education environment. In fact, at a recent meeting I attended of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, it seemed the first question that presidents and provosts were asking each other was, “Did you meet your revenue targets?”

We were also able to welcome to the College seven amazing and diverse new tenure-track faculty members who not only are accomplished scholars and teachers, but are also deeply committed to the mission of the College—this, in an environment in which many institutions are experiencing hiring freezes.  

Saint Mary’s also just received official notice that the School of Economics and Business Administration (SEBA) was reaccredited for five years with AACSB; and in the fall, Saint Mary’s moved up one spot (from number 9 to number 8) in the US News and World Report rankings of Western comprehensive universities. In addition, several exciting new academic programs have launched or will soon launch, including SOLA’s Master of Arts in Intercultural Communication and SEBA’s Executive MBA China program, Women’s Executive Leadership Certificate, and the new Executive Doctorate in Business Administration.

Perhaps the best measure of our success is what our students are able to do after graduation and who they become. Indeed, some of the most memorable experiences I have had so far at Saint Mary’s have involved our alumni. For example, I just returned from the East Coast, where President Donahue, VP for Advancement Lisa Moore, and I attended two alumni engagement events—one in Washington, D.C., and one in New York City. We shared the campaign video “Finding Your Voice,” provided updates on the campaign and other initiatives on campus, and heard from alumni about their lives since leaving the College. It was inspiring to hear their stories about Collegiate Seminar, Jan Term, a community engagement experience, the mentoring they received from a professor, and how those experiences impacted their lives.

One particularly striking example was double alum John Campos ’07, ML ‘13 who is the founding Director of Partnerships at an innovative charter school in the Bronx that strives to empower students to achieve their full potential; to equip students with the academic, technical, emotional, and professional skills they need to access college, jobs, and social empowerment. Saint John Baptist de La Salle would be proud.

Of course, we have also faced some challenges, both internal and external. But even in the face of those challenges, I’ve seen a tremendous “can-do” spirit and willingness to try innovative solutions and work together to solve problems.

This collaborative can-do spirit has been evident among faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees on the Business and Academic Resources (BAR) Task Force as that group identifies strategies for ensuring long-term financial sustainability. And a strong innovative spirit was abundantly evident in the more than 30 proposals submitted to the Academic Growth and Innovation Fund.

Overall, I would characterize Saint Mary’s as a College that’s on the move, but hasn’t forgotten where it came from.

Spring is always a busy time at the College, and we continue to face challenges.  But I hope we continue to be inspired and motivated by our Lasallian tradition as we work to ensure the success of our students and the future of Saint Mary’s College.

Margaret Kasimatis
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs