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Boyle to retire as Seton Hill University president

| Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, 12:40 p.m.
JoAnne Boyle, 78, of Laughlintown died on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. She retired in June after more than 25 years at the helm of Seton Hill University.

When Seton Hill University President JoAnne Boyle steps down this summer from the post she's held for a quarter-century, she will miss the excitement that every day on the job brought.

Whether she was greeting visiting literary luminaries such as Maya Angelou or speaking with a student on the Greensburg campus, Boyle said something was always happening.

“What I'm going to miss the most is the excitement of every single day when you really don't know what's going to be on the agenda,” Boyle said. “It's what comes in over the transom that's surprising, unexpected, but that keeps the job so interesting.”

Boyle, who oversaw the institution's transformation from a women's college to a co-ed university, will step down on June 30, or when a successor is named, according to an announcement Thursday morning by Michele Moore Ridge, chairwoman of the Seton Hill University Board of Trustees.

“With great admiration, the board of trustees expresses its deep gratitude to JoAnne for her tremendous work, long-term commitment and abiding devotion to Seton Hill University,” Ridge said in a statement.

Boyle, a 1957 Seton Hill alumna who was an English professor and department chair before ascending to the presidency in 1987, said she will miss the university, its students and employees, but she looks forward to something she has been neglecting.

“The stack of books that I need to read is getting higher and higher, and I figured I'd better go when I still had some time to read them,” she said.

Under her leadership, Seton Hill saw not only the admission of men, but a Performing Arts Center built in downtown Greensburg, the addition of graduate programs and the presence of a medical school on campus.

“Growth is a good thing,” Boyle said. “It means you're still alive and changing as anything that is living does.”

With Boyle at the helm, Seton Hill has grown to a campus of more than 2,500 students. During the last decade, the university raised more than $105 million in gifts and pledges for facilities, academic programs and its endowment.

Boyle said she's proud of the way alumni have rolled with the changes.

“Whether it was enrolling men and becoming co-ed fully, starting graduate programs, becoming a university or starting football, for heaven's sake, our alums have been there front and center cheering,” she said.

The board at the private, Catholic liberal arts university is formalizing the search process to find Boyle's successor.

Ridge will chair a selection committee, composed of trustees, alumni, faculty and student representatives, that will review candidates and recommend finalists to the board of trustees.

Boyle said the next president will be involved immediately in an expansion project, as the university will start construction on a new sciences building and a visual arts center this summer.

The president will be tasked with continuing to grow enrollment at a time when the numbers are dropping at most colleges and universities.

“It's been nothing but growth, growth, growth (at Seton Hill), and we hope to continue that. But I think that's more challenging in the next few years,” she said.

She hopes the new president will continue to embrace extending the campus into the city of Greensburg.

“A healthy city makes a healthy college campus, and we've been very fortunate to have a very health city,” Boyle said. “Being in Greensburg is very, very good for Seton Hill, and we believe Seton Hill is very, very good for Greensburg.”

Jennifer Reeger is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6155 or jreeger@tribweb.com.

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