Acting Presidents says he want to move toward the future.
Officials at Mount Saint Mary’s University say they’re moving past the turmoil earlier this year which ended with the resignation of its President, and the naming of Dr. Karl Einolf as acting President until June, when it’s expected the Board of Trustees will appoint an interim President and begin a search for a permanent replacement.
“It was a bumpy couple of months. There’s no doubt about it,” says Dr. Einolf. “I think everyone here is excited for our future and we’re moving forward.”
Dr. Einolf says one way the Mount is moving forward is Mount 2.0, a strategic plan for growth. “Mount 2.0 is essentially about offering more opportunities for our students, more academic programs; more student services,” he says.
Einolf says it’s all about making sure Mount Saint Mary’s students succeed. “We’re starting up a center for student engagement and success. So this is a center that will ensure that every student that comes to Mount Saint Mary’s is both engaged with us and will be successful,” he says.
Earlier this year, former President Simon Newman stepped down after e-mails were released where he made some unflattering comments about struggling freshmen students. He said the faculty was referring to them as “cuddly bunnies.” He said they need to “drown the bunnies…..put a Glock to their heads.” Newman also let go some university employees, two of which were faculty who have returned.
The conversation was about a retention program that would have allowed students who felt out of place at Mount Saint Mary’s to leave the school and get a full refund. Critics have said it was a way to get rid of freshmen to help inflate the retention numbers which are sent to the federal government. The program was never put in place.
Einolf said this bad publicity didn’t hurt the Mount when it came to applications received from prospective students. “Our applications interestingly are exactly the same as where they were last year,” he said. “We’ve got a great dedicated group of new students who have committed to Mount Saint Mary’s for the fall.”
And, Dr. Einolf says, there’s been a lot of support from those who graduated from the Mount. “Our alumni have really stepped up. They’re incredibly engaged with us. They’re very proud of Mount Saint Mary’s, and they want to see us doing well, and getting better. And they’re still donating. They’re still helping us.”
Because a lot of the controversy with former President Newman involved incoming freshmen, Einolf says there is assistance available for new students who are having difficulty adjusting to life at the Mount. “We have a Mount Cares committee. And that committee reviews students that we identify early on that may struggling. And we identify resources for each of those students to make sure that they have every opportunity to be successful,” he says.
For students who want to seek out help, Dr. Einolf says they can go to their adviser, or resident assistant. There are also counselors on campus who can help.
As for the future, Dr. Einolf says Mount Saint Mary’s faces one specific challenge. “We’re tuition dependent. We have a lot of debt. We don’t have an incredibly large endowment, relatively speaking. We do have those ongoing financial challenges,” he said.
But Einolf says the University will continue to add courses and programs for students. “We have a terrific program in Frederick: great graduate programs, great programs for adults who have not yet finished their bachelor’s degree. Those are opportunities for us. Our traditional program here in Emmitsburg: we’re adding new majors,” he says.