La Salle’s new interim presidency and what it means for the Lasallian community


The Editorial Board

Header image: La Salle University

The La Salle community received word on Monday that we would not be starting off the fall 2021 semester with a new full-time president, but rather an interim president who will be steering the ship until a Presidential Search Committee concludes their search and selection process. Timothy O’Shaughnessy was chosen by the La Salle University Board of Trustees to serve in the role and will not be a candidate for the presidential position beyond his time in the transitional period. 

The announcement, penned by William W. Matthews, III, Esq., a member of the class of 1990 and the La Salle Board of Trustees, detailed that a new president is planned to be announced by “early 2022.” Assuming there will be another transitional period going into the spring 2022 semester, the new president will likely be in their office in a full-time working position by the beginning of the fall 2022 semester. So, until then, Interim President O’Shaughnessy will be serving the Lasallian community and carrying on President Colleen Hanycz’s work in the office. For a full recap of the announcement, please look to our News section.

La Salle University

“We sought a candidate with senior administrative experience, a deep knowledge of Catholic education in Philadelphia, an understanding of our university and a firm commitment to the Lasallian mission — all of which Tim brings to this role,” said Matthews in his letter. Prior to his career on the La Salle Executive Cabinet which began in January of this year, O’Shaughnessy worked as the Vice President of Finance at Aramark where he led their business, sports and entertainment group. From 2008 to 2012 O’Shaughnessy cut his teeth working in the academic field as the CFO of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. In the past he also served as an audit committee board member for Holy Family University, a board member of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School and director of Polonia Bank. O’Shaughnessy’s most notable career achievement, however, is his role as the CFO of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. As CFO, O’Shaughnessy oversaw millions of dollars in budgetary improvements through eliminating deficit spending.

With that said, while O’Shaughnessy should not be expected to make any major changes in his time as interim president, La Salle’s current financial woes could certainly use someone with a background in handling fiscal issues. Many students have watched La Salle lose numerous amenities that were originally promised to them, ranging from cut sports teams, to sold art, just to keep the school relevant without raising tuition by large amounts. O’Shaughnessy’s actions as interim president will no doubt be closely monitored by the Board of Trustees and his Executive Cabinet, however, it may prove beneficial to the university if O’Shaughnessy is able to flex some of his financial redevelopment muscle, or at least lay some groundwork for it. With the Archdiocese, this was mainly done through layoffs and the sale of real estate, which we on the Editorial Board stringently recommend avoiding, as selling Lasallian history does not sit well with the community, as is evidenced by the ongoing conversation regarding the sale of the La Salle Art Museum’s collections. The armory is an option, as it is so far removed from campus, but other historic buildings may become problematic if plans are devised to sell them.

While O’Shaughnessy’s career boasts a number of CFO positions, and he served as a part of the Lasallian community for a short time before being appointed, it is worth noting that he will be taking up the mantle at a paramountly important period for La Salle. Just this week, the university will begin distributing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to students and members of the community, cases of the virus on the university’s campus are in the single digits and a new class of incoming freshmen will have to face COVID-19’s implications on campus starting as soon as the next Explorientation. 

The Business Journals

In her time with La Salle, President Hanycz accomplished many major changes including the tuition reset in 2017, the founding of the De La Salle Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning, reforming the core curriculum, starting Project Compass and perhaps above all, guiding the Lasallian community through the transition to remote and hybrid learning and facilitating a safe return to in-person teaching with no major incidents and a general feeling of public health safety among undergraduates. The plans that were put in place in regards to COVID-19 during Hanycz’s tenure, no doubt heavily influenced and touched on by the Board, Executive Cabinet and the Student Wellness team, appear to be working well, and if they are continued to be supported by O’Shaughnessy and his staff, La Salle could very well return to the campus we remember.

The Lasallian community needs to recognize that O’Shaughnessy taking the role of interim president is a step back in terms of diversity, even if it is a temporary position. President Hanycz made history when she became the first lay and female president of La Salle in its over 150 years of operations. Especially with all that has gone on in the world in the last two years, partnered with the university’s continued message of standing in solidarity with the African American community and other minority groups in America, we urge the Presidential Selection Committee to take diversity, inclusion and representation very seriously when choosing their candidates for La Salle’s 30th president.

We at the Collegian wish Interim President O’Shaughnessy success in his work with the Lasallian community, thank President Hanycz for her time spent with us since 2015 and urge the entire Lasallian community to be engaged and involved with university announcements regarding presidential selection and to voice their opinions to university administration regarding potential candidates.

Letters, guest columns and opinion pieces will be considered for publication provided that they meet the editorial standards of The Collegian. All letters must be received by the end of the day Monday to be considered for the current issue. Letters can be submitted via email to The Collegian reserves the right to condense or edit submissions. Weekly editorials reflect the views of the editorial staff and are not representative of the university or necessarily the views of the rest of the Collegian’s staff. Columns and cartoons reflect the views of the respective writers and artists.

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