Big Changes in the Big Apple: Father Brian Shanley, O.P., Becomes St. John’s President

by The Cowl Editor on February 4, 2021


Father Brian Shanley, O.P., will continue his career in Catholic education at St. John’s University. Photo courtesy of

by Hannah Langley ’21

News Co-Editor

After serving as president of Providence College for 15 years, Father Brian Shanley, O.P., humbly stepped down from his position in June 2020. In November 2020, however, it was announced Fr. Shanley would take on the presidential duties at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, becoming their 18th President. 

Fr. Shanley was selected after an extensive search by an 18-person committee that consisted of various members of the St. John’s community. The committee, as well as other members of the St. John’s community, are excited to welcome Fr. Shanley as their new president. 

William J. Janetscheck, St. John’s alumnus and chair of the university’s board of trustees, noted his excitement about Fr. Shanley’s selection, saying, “On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I am absolutely delighted to welcome Fr. Shanley. . .[his] steadfast devotion to Catholic education and to student success were apparent from our very first conversation with him.” 

He continued, saying, “He has a demonstrated record of achievement as President of Providence College, and we believe that he is the ideal candidate to serve as our beloved University’s 18th President.”

On Jan. 31, the eve before his tenure officially began, Fr. Shanley held a Mass to thank the community for accepting him during such uncertain times. In his message to the St. John’s community, Fr. Shanley, a former professor himself, repeatedly spoke about the importance of good teachers, saying, “Good teaching has the power to root out evil, to change people’s lives, to make the world a better place.”

Fr. Shanley spoke about his hope for the students of St. John’s as well, saying, “My hope and prayer for our students is that they develop more capacious, richer, and more compassionate minds than the ones that they have when they start this semester.”

Father  Kenneth Sicard, O.P., current president of PC, noted his happiness for Fr. Shanley’s new role, wishing him future success at the university. 

“His extraordinary vision and strong leadership during his 15 years at Providence College were just some of the qualities that defined his presidency and that made him successful. We are a better and stronger institution because of him,” said Fr. Sicard. 

Fr. Sicard continued, stating how he still talks to Fr. Shanley regularly and he knows Fr. Shanley is excited for his new role and opportunity. Fr. Sicard asserted that “God will continue to bless him in this new ministry.”

In one of his last messages to the PC community, Fr. Shanley noted his sadness about leaving, but also his appreciation for his time serving the College. “As I end my time as President today,” he said, “what I feel most is a profound sense of gratitude to God for the goodness that I have seen in the people that I have met in my fifteen years of service.” It is this humility and appreciation for others that will be remembered of Fr. Shanley by the PC community.