Transforming from college to university meant reimagining and restructuring who we are. Now, with the pieces and people in place, St. Kate's is ready to step boldly into the future.
BY ANDY STEINER | PHOTOS BY REBECCA ZENEFSKI '10
NOT LONG AGO, COLLEEN HEGRANES, St. Catherine University's senior vice president for academic affairs, had an epiphany.
"I was in a meeting, and I looked around and realized that all four deans were there," Hegranes says. "I turned to Dean Alan Silva and said with a big smile, 'There are five of us here.' I have to admit, I'm feeling euphoric about that."
Hegranes' jubilation comes at the end of a long process that began in 2006, when St. Catherine administrators began seriously discussing the idea of transforming what was then known as the College of St. Catherine into St. Catherine University, complete with a new focus on graduate-level programs and four distinct schools led by a quartet of deans.
Making these changes meant a wholesale reconfiguration of the institution. Faculty and administrators launched into a series of meetings and discussions, working to create a framework that would meet the needs of today's students while holding true to the institution's history of academic excellence in the liberal arts.
After months of planning, the pieces of the puzzle seemed like they were falling into place. In 2006, English Professor Alan Silva had been hired from Hamline University and named dean of Arts and Sciences. He was chosen to head one of the four new schools: Humanities, Arts and Sciences. Two other schools — Professional Studies and the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health — had leaders in place. And a search was underway for the one open position, dean of the School of Business and Leadership.
"Everything was idling on the runway, ready to take off," Silva recalls. Then, as best-laid plans tend to do, things went awry.
Dean of Professional Studies Susan Cochrane announced her retirement. Health Professions Dean Margaret K. McLaughlin took a job at a different institution. "Before you knew it, we were looking for three deans instead of one," Hegranes says ruefully. "It all just came raining down at once."
Administrators turned what could have been a crisis into opportunity. They appointed interim deans for the three schools and launched simultaneous searches for the open positions. Committees interviewed candidates from around the country until they decided on three stellar picks: MaryAnn Janosik (School of Professional Studies and Graduate College), Paula King (School of Business and Leadership), and Penelope Moyers (Henrietta Schmoll School of Health).
"It's been a wild ride," Hegranes says with a laugh, "but it's also been a lot of fun. We are very excited about the direction the University is heading with Alan and these new deans. Now we can begin implementing all of our grand plans."
Silva is delighted, both with his new colleagues and with the reconfiguration of the institution. "We made these structural changes because they were right for an institution of our history and stature," he says. "Our enrollments are strong, and our graduates are successful, so it's not like we were making this move out of fear or desperation."
Plus, after McLaughlin and Cochrane's departures, it was getting lonely being the "last dean standing."
"The three women who've come in have a lot of experience and talent," says Silva, who is slso assistant vice president of the College for Women. "We're getting new vision, fresh voices and new perspectives. It's truly exhilarating."
Inspired to Heal:
Penelope Moyers, Dean