By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Dr. Susan M. Donovan was inaugurated as the fourth president of Bellarmine University during a ceremony in Knights Hall Oct. 27.
She began her new role as Bellarmine president in June, following a 32-year career at Loyola University Maryland.
Prior to the inaugural ceremony, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz presided at an inaugural Mass at St. Agnes Church. Jesuit Father Timothy Brown, a Loyola colleague and personal friend to the Donovan family, delivered the homily.
Father Brown spoke about the day’s first reading from Proverbs regarding the value of a woman.
“For what she does is bring good to people all the days of their lives, the colleagues she encourages, the people she mentors,” said Father Brown of President Donovan.
Father Brown, who serves as the special assistant to the president for mission integration at Loyola, told the congregation, “you know the challenges higher education faces these days.”
“I chose not to name the challenges today but to pray for all those things we bring to this liturgy. We pray for strength, for courage and deep, deep boldness,” he said.
Concluding his homily, he gave a blessing that he said he’s given numerous times at liturgies at Loyola:
“Go forth in peace. Have courage. Hold on to what is good. Return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the fainthearted. Support the weak. Help the suffering. Honor all men and women. Rejoice in the Holy Spirit.”
At the close of the Mass, President Donovan and her husband, Dr. Bill Donovan, stood before the congregation as prayers were offered from the various religious orders associated with Bellarmine, including Jesuit, Ursuline, Franciscan and Trappist. Blessings were also offered by students in Hebrew and Arabic.
In her inaugural address later that day in Knights Hall, Donovan said Bellarmine helps students find their “purpose” in “the pulse of life” and “explore the ultimate questions, and search for the truth wherever that search may lead.”
“On a college campus, young people grow up. What kind of adults will they be? At Bellarmine our mission is to help students ‘develop the intellectual, moral, ethical and professional competencies’ so that they will go forth into the world with ‘successful living, work, leaders and service to others,” she said.
Donovan referenced the university’s mission statement and said the words “moral and ethical” are right there with “intellectual” and “professional.”
“In today’s world we need ‘the smartest person in the room’ to also be a good person. Seeing that outcome is a mission worthy of our dedication and our life’s work,” she said.
Donovan recalled her presidential predecessors and praised their “fiscal acumen and stewardship.” She lauded the late Dr. Joseph J. McGowan whose “Vision 2020 resulted in an explosion of growth that included myriad new academic programs and a construction boom the likes of which the university had never seen.”
She posed the question “Where will we go next?”
Donovan said the Bellarmine community will begin a strategic planning process that will shape the university’s next decade.
“We will look for ways to reduce costs, increase revenue and reallocate resources consistently with our mission. Opportunities for continued growth and improvement abound. We will seize them. And, we will continue to go forth into this community, with faith and learning, to make the world a better place,” she said.
Donovan’s inauguration week included a number of events where the new president was able to connect with students, faculty, alumni and members of the community.
On Oct. 23, President Donovan worked with students at Dare to Care Food Pantry sorting canned goods. The day following her inauguration, Oct. 28, Donovan joined Bellarmine students at the Franciscan Kitchen where volunteers served a meal to the homeless and hungry.
Donovan was unanimously selected as president by the Bellarmine Board of Trustees in February. She follows former presidents Msgr. Alfred F. Horrigan (1950-1972), Dr. Eugene V. Petrik (1973-1990) and Dr. Joseph J. McGowan, Jr. (1990-2016).