Marymount Manhattan College President Judson R. Shaver Announces His Retirement

May 19, 2014
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Marymount Manhattan College President Judson R. Shaver has announced that he will retire on June 30, 2015, after 14 years at the College and 35 years in higher education.

From the beginning of his tenure in 2001, President Shaver has led dramatic improvements at the College by facilitating college-wide planning efforts that led to the creation and successful implementation of a facilities master plan and three comprehensive strategic plans: A Vision for the Future 2002-2007, Extending Our Reach 2008-2013 and Developing a Sustainable Model 2013-2017. Each of these plans was rooted in the heritage, values and strengths of Marymount Manhattan and focused on advancing the Mission by improving academic quality, strengthening finances and enhancing facilities.

Throughout the last nearly decade and a half, President Shaver’s fundamental commitment has been to improve the academic quality of the College. As a result, the fulltime faculty is significantly larger and even more accomplished, with five faculty members having been named and supported as Distinguished Chairs. In accord with the Strategic Plan, Extending Our Reach, he reduced the teaching load from 24 to 21 credits per year and increased the number of junior and senior academic leaves. The faculty, in turn, enhanced the curriculum, worked even more intensively with students and produced an impressive body of scholarly and artistic work.

The student body, likewise, improved during President Shaver’s tenure as the number of fully prepared and even outstanding students grew significantly.  These students, in growing numbers, are winning prestigious fellowships, being admitted to the best graduate programs and enjoying meaningful employment.

Recognizing that an absolute prerequisite for academic excellence is financial viability, President Shaver reduced College debt from about $57 million to $46 million, increased the endowment from about $8 million to $20 million, earned an investment grade rating from Moody’s and achieved an operating surplus each year while holding tuition relatively low and increasing financial aid significantly.

Because students and their families can rarely afford the full cost of a Marymount Manhattan education, President Shaver stressed fundraising and spearheaded the most successful comprehensive campaign in the history of the College. The campaign, This is the Day, raised a total of $37 million, nearly ten times as much as the College’s prior campaign, and included two gifts of $5 million each that represent the largest gifts in the College’s history.  

A special focus of his fundraising was the Marymount Manhattan College Program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York State’s maximum-security prison for women. A transformational academic program, it was financially vulnerable and its long-term survival was at risk. President Shaver raised $2.5 million to endow the program, thus assuring that it would have the financial resources to continue in perpetuity.

President Shaver also effected dramatic improvements to the physical plant.  Maintenance and deferred maintenance issues were addressed and more effective uses of space were devised campus-wide. Much of this fulfilled goals of the College’s Facilities Master Plan, including its highest priority of creating student space. This was achieved through the construction of the Lowerre Family Terrace and The Commons (an adjacent two story dining and lounge space). Together, these new facilities created a student-centered space at the heart of the campus. In order to provide for a larger faculty, the College also acquired a townhouse on 71st Street, a few doors down from the main campus.  Converted into the Faculty Center, it now provides office space for 29 members of the faculty.

President Shaver remains committed to helping the College reach the goals of the new strategic plan and to working with students, faculty and staff to maintain the current momentum and guide Marymount Manhattan towards a bright future.

“While much has been accomplished, there remains much to be done,” President Shaver said. “I look forward to my final year at Marymount Manhattan College with great enthusiasm, and I am committed to helping facilitate a smooth transition to a new leader who will continue to advance the mission of the College. This is a great institution, full of potential and gifted with the brilliant and innovative people necessary to achieve it. I will continue to work diligently to help make MMC among the best of options for students seeking a liberal arts bachelor’s degree in an urban setting.”

In an early March communication to the College community, Board of Trustees Chairman James Buckman wrote, “On behalf of the Board, I would like to share with the community that it has been a pleasure to serve on the Board of Trustees during President’s Shaver’s tenure. As Board members we serve the College because of our commitment to its mission. President Shaver has been a true embodiment of that mission over the last thirteen years. His leadership and strategic thinking have been transformative in both good times and bad; he will leave the College much better than he found it.”

Prior to his tenure at Marymount Manhattan College, President Shaver served as Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Religious Studies at Iona College and as Dean and Associate Professor of Religion at Regis University. Prior to that he was an Assistant Professor at Wheeling College and an Associate Professor at Seattle University.

President Shaver received a B.A. in Religious Studies from Southern California College and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Notre Dame.

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