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Marywood University President Announces Retirement

Marywood University President Announces Retirement

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Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D. Will Retire on June 30, 2024




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Marywood University President Announces Retirement


 Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D. Will Retire on June 30, 2024


Scranton, PA (December 21, 2023—10 A.M.) — Sister Mary Persico, IHM, Ed.D.,the 12th President of Marywood University, has announced to the Board of Trustees her decision to retire from her role, effective June 30, 2024.


Sister Mary was elected President of Marywood University by the University Board of Trustees in April 2016 and began her presidential tenure on July 1, 2016. Throughout her eight-year tenure, the University endowment has nearly doubled and maintained a fiscally responsible status, even during universally challenging financial times in higher education and while the industry as a whole has faced a national downturn in enrollments.


To further strengthen Marywood’s future, Sister Mary is presently guiding the University’s $30 million comprehensive campaign, which is set to conclude upon her retirement. The campaign is designed to fund new construction and academic spaces on campus, to provide scholarships for students, and to enhance the student experience. The state-of-the-art Pascucci Family Health Sciences Pavilion, an addition to the O’Neill Healthy Families Center, which will house all students who study the Health Sciences, will be dedicated in May 2024.


Since 2016, several signature programs have enjoyed expansion, including the Physician Assistant and Architecture programs, and several innovative programs in Respiratory Therapy, Construction Management, and Biotechnology were launched. Last spring, the Living City Lab at Marywood University was established and dedicated to the memory of Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist from Scranton; this entity is housed in the Insalaco Center for Studio Arts. Sister Mary also launched the Center for Law, Justice, & Policy, as a precursor to the engagement of students in programs that will lead to legal-related professions. Additionally, the University established the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, out of which grew the Center for Truth and Racial Healing.

Sister Mary’s belief that universities exist to serve the communities that surround them was realized, in part, with the purchase of Marywood Heights, the former Holy Family Skilled Nursing Facility, which is home to nearly 90 residents. Marywood Heights is the first UBRC (University Based Retirement Community) in Northeast Pennsylvania. In addition, the NativityMiguel School of Scranton was relocated to Marywood University in 2019 and is now a permanent addition to campus.


Sister Mary has represented Marywood to the broader higher education community through service on boards and by her presence in the public arena, including a six-year term on the Board of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, during which time she assumed the role of Chair for one year. She was an appointee of Governor Tom Wolf to the PA Humanities as a Director for six years and also assumed the role of Chair for some of her tenure there. In 2019, Sister Mary was asked to deliver the Commencement Address at the Catholic University of East Africa, Nairobi, Kenya. She currently serves as one of ten members on the Governor’s task force for Higher Education in the Commonwealth of PA and has chaired several Middle States site visits during her years as Marywood’s President.


Sister Mary's leadership has led to global accomplishments, such as online graduate Business programs to students from the Tsingsua Holdings Zijing Education Group in Beijing, China, and from the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Support, Alexandria, Egypt. The Office of Global Education also was established during her presidency. Through this office, dozens of students from South Korea spend one semester at Marywood and do practical nursing training in local hospitals and clinics.


When the COVID-19 pandemic arose, Sister Mary guided Marywood through unprecedented, uncertain times, successfully navigating challenges and positioning Marywood to thrive in the aftermath of a global pandemic. The University was able to pivot quickly to sustain its mission and to assist the community to curb the spread of the virus and minimize the pandemic’s consequences. Additionally, she brought national retail partnerships to campus, including Starbucks, the Gear Shop, the Apple Store, and the Amazon Store, to provide an enhanced campus culture to students.


“On behalf of the Trustees, I wish to acknowledge our admiration for Sister Mary, her collaborative leadership, and her bold vision for Marywood,” stated Board President, Lisa Lori, Esq. “Sister Mary has been an inspiration to us all. Throughout the years, and long before her tenure as President, Sister Mary promoted the mission and core values of our University. She has kept them ever before our students, staff, faculty, and administration as the collective light that guides all we do.”


The Board of Trustees will launch a national search for Sister Mary’s successor. The Board of Trustees has hired a search firm/consultant and will be forming a search committee, which will include members of various stakeholder groups. The position is expected to be posted in early January 2024, with a plan to announce finalists for the position in March and a President-Elect by early April 2024.


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