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SJU Announces Dr. Cheryl A. McConnell as New Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Cheryl A. McConnell, Ph.D., an accomplished higher education leader, academician and business practitioner, will assume the role of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Saint Joseph’s University on June 15.

McConnell sits in a sunlit room at a desk, holding a mug with Jesuit phrases.

Published: February 14, 2019

Total reading time: 3 minutes

Cheryl A. McConnell, Ph.D., an accomplished higher education leader, academician and business practitioner, will assume the role of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Saint Joseph’s University on June 15. She succeeds Jeanne F. Brady, Ph.D., a 20-year SJU leader and educational scholar who will retire in June.

McConnell joins SJU from fellow Jesuit institution Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, where she has held a number of progressively responsible leadership positions across the university, most recently serving as dean of the College of Business, Influence and Information Analysis since 2012 and as associate provost for academic affairs since 2017. In addition, she served as the interim dean of the College of Health and Human Services from 2016 to 2017. She has a strong track record of interdisciplinary collaboration, program innovation and growth, faculty development, budget management and the formation of strategic partnerships.

“Dr. McConnell is the right chief academic officer for Saint Joseph’s to help us realize the high aspirations of our strategic plan and move the institution forward,” says SJU President Mark C. Reed, Ed.D. “She is a strategic thinker, innovator, collaborator and action-oriented leader who is committed to excellence and mission. As we diversify our academic portfolio, open a new school, forge partnerships and raise the national profile of Saint Joseph’s, she is exactly the academic leader we need at the helm.”

McConnell’s business acumen and wealth of experience have honed a sharp understanding of the economic model and financial complexities of higher education. As business dean, she tripled graduate enrollments through creative and market-responsive program development. Since 2006, she has served as a member of Rockhurst’s planning and budgetary committee. Additionally, McConnell led accrediting and reaccrediting efforts across professional schools.

“Cheryl’s legacy at Rockhurst University will be felt for a long time,” says Rockhurst President Thomas B. Curran, S.J. “She helped transform the generation of students she taught, thoughtfully and successfully partnered with faculty and staff colleagues, and journeyed with alumni, trustees and civic leaders in multiple efforts to improve the quality of life in the Kansas City region. Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley will now be significantly enriched by her presence and work as she transitions from being a ‘Hawk’ in the Midwest to her new home on Hawk Hill on City Avenue.”

Usha Rao, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, chaired the search committee and notes McConnell’s commitment to students and their learning is deep and sincere.

“Her classroom teaching has been recognized by numerous teaching awards,” Rao adds. “Her scholarship, which focuses on improving the quality of teaching and learning for undergraduates and increasing diversity in the academy, further highlights her commitment to these important causes.”

Faculty Senate President Ronald Dufresne, Ph.D., who is also associate professor of management, underscored McConnell’s dedication to shared governance. “The Provost is the keeper of the academic vision, and that vision can only be developed and acted upon in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students,” says Dufresne. “As Chair of the Faculty Senate and Dean, Dr. McConnell has seen the enduring value of mutual and collaborative problem solving.”

McConnell, who will join the accounting faculty at SJU, received a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Saint Louis University and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from Wichita State University. Additionally, she completed the Institute of Educational Management, a two-week immersion and leadership experience for senior-level higher education administrators, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to her academic career, McConnell was a senior accountant at former Big 5 accounting firm Arthur Anderson.