Creighton University stands tall in the life of Omaha, thanks to the dedication and hard work of many people, including its leaders, faculty, students and supporters.
A major figure in that achievement is the university's energetic president, the Rev. John Schlegel. On Wednesday, Creighton announced that Schlegel will retire in July 2011.
For the past decade, Schlegel has provided admirable leadership as Creighton's president. He has proved himself a capable administrator, skilled diplomat and hard-working civic leader.
To tally the many positive developments at Creighton over the past decade involves a long list indeed. Here are only some of the many examples.
Creighton has done strong long-term planning and has had remarkable success with fundraising.
The new endowed faculty positions, the expanded enrollment, the national recognition of Creighton's high academic standards and initiatives to boost student learning and fulfillment, the construction of facilities including the Hixon-Lied Science Building, the Mike and Josie Harper Center for Student Life and Learning, the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center, the D.J. Sokol Arena — there indeed is much to note and celebrate.
With its careful attention to the quality of dorm life and campus appearance and design, the university has done a fine job in making itself an appealing home for students.
Through health clinics, diversity outreach and many other activities, Creighton has demonstrated an impressive community-minded spirit.
Such initiatives are directly in line with Schlegel's vision of an urban campus strongly connected to its community. As he said early in his time as Creighton's president: “It is absolutely essential, in my opinion, that an urban university not be an ivory tower. It would be ideal not to have walls and have the entire city as the campus.”
Creighton's eastward expansion — campus development increased by 40 acres, to a total of 130 — has been a major positive factor complementing the development in Omaha's north downtown. Creighton's development will continue to be an important factor as the evolution in that part of town continues.
Over the past decade, Creighton has energetically pursued its Catholic and Jesuit mission, bolstering students' opportunities to strengthen their faith, enjoy new experiences and become involved in community activities.
With the announcement of Schlegel's retirement in 2011, Creighton's board will now have a year in which to conduct a presidential search. The selection of a new president will be a decision of enormous importance. In addition to building on Creighton's current long-term plans, the next president will oversee the overall management of Creighton's array of institutions, including its medical school.
Over the next year, Creighton can celebrate its achievements, provide a proper salute to Schlegel for his years of dedicated service and carry out the all-important process of choosing a new leader to take the university forward.