March 10: Announcing our 29th President

TO: SJU Community
FROM: James M. Norris ’85, Chair, Board of Trustees
RE: Announcing our 29th President: Join Us Today 
DATE: March 10, 2023 at 10 a.m.

Dear Members of the SJU Community,

It is with great pleasure and pride that I announce that the search for Saint Joseph’s next president has come to a successful close. At the unanimous recommendation of the presidential search committee, the Board of Trustees elected Cheryl A. McConnell, PhD, as the 29th president of Saint Joseph's University, effective immediately.

Dr. McConnell brings to the role more than 35 years of Jesuit higher education experience and an intimate knowledge of and deep appreciation for our mission, our educational philosophy and the principles of Ignatian spirituality. Dr. McConnell has a wonderful combination of academic breadth and experience, demonstrated executive and leadership capabilities and strong financial and business acumen. At a time of significant change in our University, we believe Dr. McConnell is the right person at the right time to lead Saint Joseph’s in this next chapter of our proud history.

In her time as interim president, Dr. McConnell quickly galvanized the University community around the institutional priorities of campus planning, academic innovation and enrollment strength. Her partnership with faculty to streamline the academic program approval process is enabling the development of new graduate and undergraduate programs ready to meet market demand. 

As Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. McConnell was focused on expanding the University’s academic portfolio. She has been leading the integration of the University of the Sciences following the historic merger last year and she is now spearheading our impending merger with the Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences.

Prior to joining Saint Joseph’s, Dr. McConnell was the Dean of the College of Business, Influence, and Information Analysis and the Helzberg School of Management at Rockhurst University, where she was also the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs. Her advocacy for and partnership with faculty have been hallmarks of her career.

Dr. McConnell is a first-generation college graduate, having earned her Bachelor of Business Administration and her Master of Professional Accountancy degrees from Wichita State University. She went on to earn a PhD in higher education administration from fellow Jesuit institution Saint Louis University. A frequently sought-after speaker on women in leadership, she is also a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Fraud Examiner. Her decades-long commitment to Jesuit education is evidenced by her participation in a number of leadership experiences including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities’ Ignatian Colleagues Program and Leadership Institute, as well as the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola.

To learn more about Dr. McConnell’s background and accomplishments, I invite you to read the press release.

As I mentioned in prior updates, the applicant pool for our next president was impressive and diverse. Candidates included standing presidents, provosts, deans, Jesuit scholars and even some professionals from outside the higher education community. All were excited by the prospect of leading an institution of the caliber of Saint Joseph’s. I wish to extend my gratitude once again to our search committee, all of whom made a significant commitment of their time to see us through this process.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and our search committee, I invite the entire community to join us at 1:30 p.m. today in the Foley Center on Hawk Hill for the public announcement of Dr. McConnell as Saint Joseph’s 29th president. We hope you will be able to take some time to share in and celebrate this important moment.

If you are unable to join us in person, you may view the announcement ceremony via live webcast

We look forward to seeing you later this afternoon as we congratulate Dr. McConnell.


Jim Norris signature

James M. Norris ’85
Chair, Board of Trustees