Editorial: Opportunities for New President Simon Newman

Photo of President Newman
Photo courtesy of President Newman.

On March 10, 2015, Dr. Thomas Powell stepped down as the president of Mount St. Mary’s University and Simon Newman, a private equity strategist and businessman, officially replaced him as the twenty-fifth president of the Mount. On behalf of the editors, staff and writers working here, the Mountain Echo would like to welcome President Newman to the Mount family and community. This is an exciting time for all of us here at the Mount, and we are certain that President Newman’s leadership will guide the Mount to many successful years ahead.

President Newman enters at a time of great opportunity for the university. Under Dr. Powell’s tenure as president, the Mount became a top-twenty college in the Northern U.S. region according to U.S. News and World Report. Dr. Powell’s renewed focus on the Mount’s four pillars can be seen through his improvements to the campus itself, to the academics of the university, and to the school’s Catholic community.

However, the Mount is also in a time of great turmoil. Though the university and campus were greatly improved under the Powell administration, these improvements have taken their financial toll. The university’s debt continues to dangerously increase. Attempting to offset the growing cost of running a college, the university admitted a record number of students in 2011, and the Class of 2015 continues to set new Mount records for its size and participation. In order to fit what was at the time the largest class in Mount history, residence halls were expanded at the expense of student lounge areas and the cottages, though a significant contribution to the Mount’s residential resources, currently only serve forty students. Now the Class of 2015 is leaving and the incoming Class of 2019 may very well eclipse 2015 in its size.

While student living presents a formidable problem, the academic resources of the university are in desperate need of improvement. Adjuncts are more and more replacing tenure-track positions, and the academic facilities, in particular the Knott Academic Center and the Science Building, desperately require renovation. These are two of many factors that make up the faculty resources category of the U.S. News and World Report’s rating, which is the area that the Mount’s rating is most significantly falling behind in. President Newman has already taken steps to reevaluate the Mount’s administration, faculty, and infrastructure (both digitally and physically), but these changes must come sooner rather than later if the Mount is to continue to grow as an institution of higher education.

While it may seem that President Newman has his work cut out for him, having to juggle a large incoming class, financial turmoil, an upcoming Middle States reaccreditation, dwindling faculty resources, and maintaining a healthy Catholic community, the situation is not as dire as it appears to be. President Newman’s track record in his other dealings, both professionally and personally, suggests that he is a man of great capability and integrity. He, by all accounts, certainly seems to be the man that Mount St. Mary’s needs to guide the university through these times of concern; we here at The Mountain Echo have the utmost faith in President Newman and look forward to reporting his many successes in the day, months, and years to come.

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