posted on: Thursday May 3, 2018
by Sabrina Guilbeault ’18
News Co-Editor Emerita
At the end of this academic year, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., who has served as president of Providence College for the past 13 years, will be taking a six-month long sabbatical. During his time away, Vice President Father Kenneth Sicard, O.P., will step in as acting president.
“I’m looking forward to not dealing with the 24/7 stresses that come with being president of Providence College,” said Fr. Shanley. “I love my job, but I’ve sensed that I needed a break.”
Generally speaking, all tenured faculty at PC are welcomed to take a sabbatical for six months or a year every seven years. Fr. Shanley explained around his 10-year mark, he felt ready for some time away, but the timing was not right due to the fact that the College was finishing a monumental capital campaign, was going through re-accreditation, and was celebrating its 100th anniversary. “With everything wrapping up, this felt like the perfect time to take six months off, and return refreshed and ready to go,” said Fr. Shanley.
When asked to describe a typical day in the life for the president of PC, Fr. Shanley said, “I don’t have a typical day.” According to Shanley, the role of president involves dealing and working with an array of people and countless relationships. “Time management is a big deal,” said the president. “Most of my days are in the office, but I also travel a lot for fundraising.”
With the president on sabbatical, Fr. Sicard will be stepping in as acting president, and some responsibilities will be passed on to Ann Manchester-Molak, assistant to the president and executive vice president. “Each of the vice presidents does a great job at what they do,” said Fr. Sicard, who explained a big responsibility for the College will be going through the final interviews and search for the new vice president for institutional diversity in the fall. “The way I work relies a lot on the cabinet,” he said. “They are so good at what they do and will keep PC the great success that is.”
Fr. Shanley explained that he is looking forward to having more time to read, especially philosophy. “It’s a challenge to live a contemplative life when you’re a college president,” he said, and remarked that as a college professor he felt he had more control over his life to read and listen to music. “I’m looking forward to slowing my life down and spending some time with family and friends.”
Prior to being president of PC, Fr. Shanley taught at Catholic University in Washington D.C, where he was a professor for 11 years. His last sabbatical was in 2001 during his time there.
During Fr. Shanley’s time at PC, the College has witnessed a vast amount of change. One example is that a majority of the faculty currently employed at PC were hired during Shanley’s tenure. Furthermore, the way PC physically looks has drastically changed. “Closing Huxley Avenue has brought our campus together in a way that is truly remarkable,” said Fr. Shanley.
Other changes and growth the College has seen include success in athletics, an increase of students studying abroad, gaining momentum on the amount of people applying to PC, and the amount of donations given to the College has also increased. Shanley also remarked how the student body has grown more diverse since he arrived 13 years ago, but the College can continue to do more for inclusion.
A goal the president has for the future is working on the affordability of PC. He explained that one of his dreams for the College is meeting 100 percent of the financial need for all students who come here. “The challenge is we do not have the financial resources through endowment to currently do this,” said Fr. Shanley. He also stated that with more endowed scholarships, meeting this goal can be a reality.
“We’ll miss Fr. Shanley, but he deserves a break to recharge his batteries,” said Fr. Sicard, who has worked at PC for 21 years. “It’s such a blessing to work here. We’re surrounded by really good people.”
During his time away, Fr. Shanley also hopes to visit the beach, will travel with the men’s basketball team to Italy in August, and will go to Ireland in September to play golf with his brothers. “I also want to get my spiritual life back to where it should be,” said Shanley, who also stated that he is excited to do some cultural things like visiting the opera. “I also want to go to New York and do more than asking people for money for the College. I want to do the museums, and see a show.”
Fr. Shanley went on to say that he will miss being on campus for the first day of school, and explained there is something exciting about being on a college campus on the first day of classes. “I’ll be in and out though,” said Shanley. “I’ll be back soon enough, ans these six months will go by very quickly.”