November 12, 2019

Passing the Torch: Rev. Kenneth Sicard Named New President of Providence College

posted on: Thursday October 10, 2019

Fr. Sicard knew from a young age he wanted to join the Dominican Order. Photo courtesy of anchornews.org

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

In 1919, Providence College opened its doors under the leadership and guidance of its first president, Reverend Dennis Albert Casey, O.P. Since then, the College has grown tremendously under the work and presidency of 11 other Friars, including its current president, Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P. 

As of Friday, October 4, it was announced that Reverend Kenneth Sicard, O.P., has been added to this list of prestigious Friars, making him the 13th elected president of the College. 

The selection process was led by a formal presidential selection committee, headed by chairman Robert Clark ’80. This selection committee, Clark said, consisted of a wide range of people, in order to “represent all different aspects of the PC community.” After a process which lasted several weeks, a committee was brought together that was made up of six members from the Board of Trustees, one representative from the alumni association, student Keagan MacKrell ’20, two faculty members, and two staff members, one of which was a Dominican.

MacKrell, the only student on the committee, talked about her experience as being part of this process, saying, “As captain of the cheerleading team, a big part of my role is to not only represent my team in a collegiate light, but to support and represent Providence College and their overall mission. Providence College is also a place that I hold very close to my heart, and I am honored to have been selected to take part in the next big step of PC’s history. I am truly so thankful to have been a part of this process.” 

The selection committee began by putting together a formalized job description and process for choosing the next president, Clark stated. The only limitation they had in setting parameters, Clark mentioned, was that the president needed to be a Friar and have a doctorate. 

On Sept. 12, the committee came together to interview each of the four applicants for the job individually, spending about two hours with each person. In the end, Fr. Sicard and Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., were the final candidates. From there, the two Friars were then interviewed by cabinet administrators, a group of faculty that serve on the Shared Governance Committee, representatives from Student Congress, and Christopher Reilly ’84, chair of the Board of Trustees. There were also extensive background and reference checks led by the search firm Witt/Kiefer, which was hired by the selection committee for its expertise and specialization in educational searches for colleges and universities, according to Clark.

After receiving extensive feedback, the Board of Trustees made their selection, which was then reviewed and approved by the Providence College Corporation. 

Clark is satisfied and extremely pleased with the way the election process took place, saying, “The process went pretty smoothly, and hopefully everyone felt it was fair and transparent.”

Clark continued, saying he was also pleased with the selection of Fr. Sicard. “We were looking for somebody that could continue the success that [the school has] had,” Clark said. “Somebody that could really build great relationships and collaborate with faculty, alumni, staff, the Dominican community,” and he feels Fr. Sicard will be able to accomplish this during his future presidency.

As the son of a mill worker in Fall River, MA, Fr. Sicard grew up with very little, but used the resources he had to create a successful future for himself. He talked about his father, who was a hard-working man, but was never able to attend college. “My dad was the one who persuaded me to go to Providence College,” noted Sicard.

Fr. Sicard graduated from PC with a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 1978 and a master’s in business administration in 1984, being the first in his family to graduate with a college degree. After spending several years as an audit manager at Fleet Financial Group and the Industrial National Bank, however, Fr. Sicard decided to devote his life to the Church and entered the

Dominican order. “I always knew I wanted to enter the order,” said Fr. Sicard. “The time just wasn’t right when I got out of college.”

From there, Fr. Sicard received his bachelor’s in sacred theology and master’s in divinity from the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.

After receiving his doctorate degree from and spending seven years teaching business and theology at the University of Ohio, Fr. Sicard was appointed the Dean of Residence Life at Providence College, and has been here ever since. Fr. Sicard noted his time as dean of residence life is what made him come to love the PC community, especially the students. “You get to see the students at their best and also at their worst,” Fr. Sicard said, but he has loved all of the people he worked with and being so involved in the students’ lives.

After seven years of working in residence life, Fr. Sicard was selected to become vice president of the College under Fr. Shanley in 2005. “Fr. Shanley has been a phenomenal mentor for me,” stated Fr. Sicard. “This place is the best it has ever been, and it is a real privilege to follow him and to be able to give back now.”

Along with serving as vice president, Fr. Sicard also held the position of treasurer for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, was a member of the Economic Council of the Dominican Order, oversaw various departments and institutions at PC, stepped in as acting president during Fr. Shanley’s sabbatical in 2018, and led several different committees, including the Strategic Planning Committee in charge of creating and implementing the PC 200 plan.

The PC 200 plan is one of the initiatives Fr. Sicard is most excited about implementing during his presidency. Sicard hopes that the PC 200 plan will not only work towards diversity, inclusion, and equity, but also in enhancing the student experience at PC, both in academics and extra-curriculars. “I know both are important to PC students,” said Fr. Sicard, “so I want to focus on both aspects equally.”

Being involved in student and faculty life is one of the goals Fr. Sicard has set out for himself during his presidency. Among other things, he hopes to create both a faculty and student advisory board, as well as to attend student club and organization meetings at least once a semester.

Fr. Sicard also hopes to continue nationwide recruitment and creating the best possible academic program in order to create more of a name for the College. “We want PC to be a nationally recognized school,” stated Fr. Sicard, and he is hoping to accomplish this during his time as president.

Fr. Sicard could not have expressed more gratitude for the opportunity he has been given and for the family he has made at PC. “The students, faculty, staff, and administration are all amazing,” said Fr. Sicard, “and it is a real blessing to be at a college like this. God is good.”

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