Creighton University is a valuable brand. It is an academic power with a gleaming Omaha campus and growing stature on the national stage.
That’s all a credit to the hard work of faculty, students and staff — and to a longstanding culture that emphasizes intellectual and spiritual growth.
Of course, the university had some help through the years from its 24 presidents, including the most recent, the Rev. Timothy Lannon, who has announced his plans to retire in 2015.
Lannon, 63, is the first Creighton alumnus to lead the institution, and he made decisions that will help shape the campus for decades to come. He did the same in earlier stops at St. Joseph’s University and Creighton Prep.
He worked with donors, faculty and neighbors to expand Creighton’s physical footprint, growing the campus closer to north downtown — a neighborhood where Creighton plays a pivotal role.
Lannon correctly emphasized the need to calibrate that growth to retain the teaching and personal service that help Creighton stand out.
The university under his watch engaged its business partners in talks to move Creighton’s teaching hospital to newer facilities at Bergan Mercy. But health system leaders did so with a pledge to also preserve access to medical care in or near the hospital’s historic location in east Omaha.
Creighton’s students and staff members continue to volunteer their time and money in efforts that improve the city.
Thanks in part to personal relationships, Lannon and the Creighton board found a great home for Bluejay athletics. The move to the Big East Conference will resonate among many Midlanders without other direct ties to Creighton.
It also will tell a wide audience in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati and Indianapolis about the school and its hometown.
“For me,” Lannon told The World-Herald, “it was a privilege being here.”
Under Lannon, Creighton and Omaha grew, and they grew closer together. That’s a legacy any leader would welcome, and it leaves the university with some big shoes to fill.