It is with great sorrow that we come together today with the departure of our president and dear friend, Fr. Julio Giulietti, S.J. We have all come here to seek the truth, and to know and understand what has happened within the university walls and what has become of the reputation of WJU. In this light, please invite anyone to read the blog and feel free to comment as you wish.

Any posts with profanity are not welcome, otherwise, please speak your mind. You are a part of this university and we want to hear your voice!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WJU Introduces Interim President

Wheeling Jesuit University has a new president, if only for a short time.

On Monday, university officials introduced Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill as interim president. She replaces Davitt McAteer, who had been serving as interim president since mid-August. The president position was left vacant after the departure of the Rev. Julio Giulietti.

Thrailkill comes to Wheeling after spending 21 years as president of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. Upon her retirement in 2008, she submitted her name to the Registry for College and University Presidents, a national registry that aides institutions of higher learning that are in need of an interim president. Thrailkill most recently served as the interim president at Cincinnati's Chatfield College, a position she also acquired through the registry. Thrailkill said that upon retiring from Mount St. Joseph, she fully intended on completely retiring from education - but those plans changed.

"I did retire - from June until December," she joked.

Thrailkill's approach to her stint as president of Wheeling Jesuit, however, was much more serious, as she stressed the importance of communication between university officials and students.

"The input of students is critical in offering the best education possible," she said.

Thrailkill said that while the full 18-month interim period is not guaranteed, she will approach the position as if she were the permanent presidential selection.

"A lot can be done in the period between presidents," she said, citing topics such as finances and curriculum as areas where she will focus during her time as interim president. "This is a time in which we look at issues together and say, 'How can we resolve this, in what areas can we grow and where should we focus?'"

Thrailkill, who officially began her job as interim president on Feb. 8, is the first female president in the university's history. Wheeling Jesuit officials said that they are excited to have such an experienced leader on board.

"Sister Francis will be a great leader for our university," said Margaret "Mimie" Helm, who serves as chairwoman of the presidential search committee. "She is more than qualified. We are all impressed by her successful leadership experience."

Likewise, Thrailkill said she is excited to get started.

"This university is a place for history and to look forward to the future," she said. "We need to learn more about the students so that they may grow and become the best citizens they can."

- by J.W. Johnson Jr. as published in the Wheeling News-Register

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A cold winter for all of us

It is snowing in DC and cold. It’s the same weather and emotional feeling in Wheeling where Sr. Francis Marie Thrailkill was recently named the second interim president at Wheeling Jesuit in six months.

Sister Thrailkill must be courageous. Did those who discovered her tell her she will be interim president for 18 months after a six month disastrous attempt at leadership by Mr. McAteer? Or that Fr. Giulietti was illegally and violently discharged from his duties as president six months ago and to this day not given any reason for his dismissal?  Or that the highly touted presidential search of last fall came up with no viable candidates?  Does Sister know that until the leadership of the Jesuits of Maryland exonerates Fr. Giulietti from any wrong doing then her attempts to make piece with thousands of alumni will be limited to the equivalent of repositioning deck chairs on the Titanic?  Was Sister told that she will be working with faculty and staff who are demoralized by the cruel and pointless dismissal of Fr. Giulietti by the board and three spineless Jesuit trustees? Will Sister take the lead with the public harassment suit filed against the college and Mr. McAteer?

It is no surprise that Jesuits did not apply to be president after Fr. Giulietti’s sad dismissal. That gives a dysfunctional board and dysfunctional trustees 18 months to arrange a new owner for the college. Will it be sold to a group of interested Christians willing to let the institution be a school with Christian values? (Its former Jesuit values were thrown away last August.) Will UPMC be the new tenant as it makes its move toward ownership of Wheeling Hospital? The campus buildings would make a fine center for medical and scientific research? Viable ownership options exist. What does not exist is any resemblance to a Jesuit college with a core commitment to justice and peace.

Larry Catraro

Friday, February 5, 2010

New man -- I mean woman -- at Wheeling Jesuit

A utility player is taking over the “interim president” job at Wheeling Jesuit U.
Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill has been named as interim president of Wheeling Jesuit University.
Thrailkill replaces J. Davitt McAteer, who has served as interim president since former President Julio Giulietti was fired on Aug. 6.
Wheeling Jesuit said Thursday that Thrailkill will serve as interim president for about 18 months. She will be the university’s first female leader.
Meanwhile, the U. apparently remains in a state of suspension as to a replacement for the (who knows?) irreplaceable Giulietti:
The school suspended its search for a permanent president in October, saying it needed more time to find the right leader.
No disrespect intended to say “utility,” as above.
Thrailkill had served as president of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati from 1987 to 2008, and as interim president of Chatfield College in Cincinnati from 2008 to 2009.
Nor journeyman (or woman), for that matter.  Did Nick Swisher drive in 82 last year for the World champion Yankees?  Yes, hitting .249 in 150 games.  Had a bad Series but got a key hit in the last game, as I recall.  His third time in six MLB seasons (his second in two).  Don’t diss the traveler.
As for Thralkill, she took over at Mt. St. Joseph a year after it went coed, admitting male students, and put in a very good 20 years:
Under her leadership, the Mount has almost doubled the size of its campus to 92 acres and steadily increased its student population to 2,300. On her watch, the college kept its track record of balancing the budget for 29 consecutive years. 
The endowment grew from $3 million in 1987 to over $22 million in 2007.  Sister Thrailkill oversaw two capital campaigns, the “Vision 2000” Campaign and the “Building Excitement” Campaign, which combined raised over $24 million for new academic programs, student scholarships and facilities.
In fact, in 2008 she was declared a Great Living Cincinnatian by the Chamber of Commerce.
If she can (figuratively) take Wheeling Jesuit to the World Series, it would go a long way to helping people forget the exceedingly strange goings-on over the past five months.
- as published in Blithe Spirit, the blog

WJU Names Interim Leader

WHEELING - The Wheeling Jesuit University Board of Directors and Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of a new interim president for the university, Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill, O.S.U., Ed.D. She will be the first female leader of the university, and she arrives on campus Feb. 8.

The former long-term president of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, Thrailkill was selected from the Registry for College and University Presidents, an interim presidential search service founded in 1992, and used by colleges nationwide seeking exceptional leadership during transition.

"Sister Francis will be a great leader for our university," search board chair Margaret "Mimie" Helm said.

"Sister Francis was chosen through a careful process that involved all campus groups, faculty, administration, students and staff. She is more than qualified."

We were all impressed by her successful leadership experience, her articulation of the Jesuit charism and her enthusiasm for WJU," Helm said.

While at Mount St. Joseph, where she was president from 1987-2008, Thrailkill led a co-educational 2,300-student campus that consisted of a four-year, liberal arts curriculum, with both undergraduate and graduate programs. From 1978-1987, Thrailkill was president of Springfield College, Illinois, a two-year, liberal arts, pre-professional and co-educational college of 500 students.

"I completely support the decision of the board of directors at Wheeling Jesuit University to engage Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill as its interim president. Sister Francis Marie strikes me as extremely qualified by both background and experience to lead Wheeling Jesuit through this period of transition as the university continues to offer its students an excellent education in the Jesuit tradition," said Rev. James Shea, S.J., provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus.

A native of San Antonio, Texas, she began her professional career earning 16 years of educational experience in Ursaline Academies in both Dallas, Texas and New Orleans, La. where she was a teacher, assistant principal and principal at girls preparatory schools. Most recently she served as an interim president at Cincinnati's Chatfield College from 2008-2009. Chatfield is a three-year Catholic liberal arts college run by the Ursalines in St. Martin, Ohio.

Thrailkill follows Davitt McAteer who assumed the temporary role of interim president in August.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank outgoing interim president Davitt McAteer for his service during our transition." added Helm. "Davitt served the university at great personal sacrifice by spending enormous amounts of time away from his family. He is anxious to get back to business at the NTTC, where he is the vice president of Sponsored Programs. "

Thrailkill will serve in the interim capacity for approximately 18 months as the school continues to search for a permanent president.

"We welcome Sister Francis to the Wheeling Jesuit family and look forward to working with her to move our university forward in a positive direction," said Columbus, Ohio resident Scott Gallagher '92, president of Alumni Council. "It is the hope of alumni that she will unify all members of the WJU community - alumni, staff, faculty and students - to draw upon their talents and ideas for a better Wheeling Jesuit."

Thrailkill earned her bachelor's in history from College of New Rochelle, her master's in sociology from Marquette University and her doctorate in educational administration from NOVA University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. A member of the Ursulines of the Roman Union order of sisters, she has a lifetime of experience in education. She is well published as an educator and has also earned the Woman of the Year Award from "The Cincinnati Enquirer" and the Business Woman of the Year Progress Award from the "Cincinnati Business Courier."

"We're excited about the positive energy and depth of experience that Sister Francis will bring to campus. Her 30-plus years experience serving as a university president, at places similar to Wheeling Jesuit, including Catholic universities, one at which she even served as a short-term interim president, will serve us well," said Christine Ohl-Gigliotti, dean of Student Development. "Her presidential expertise, as well as her intention of being a visible, active and engaging leader will help bring together our university community and strengthen our Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity. It's an exciting time for us to be moving forward in this way."

Wheeling Jesuit University eighth president, Julio Giulietti, S.J. left the university on Aug. 5, 2009 and is now at Loyola University of Chicago.

"Our process of selecting Dr. Francis Marie Thrailkill, O.S.U., as our interim president has been open and inclusive," said Dr. Mary Railing, employee representative on the Presidential Search committee and chemistry professor at Wheeling Jesuit. Railing has been with the university for 17 years and added, "Sister Francis has experience as a university president and as an interim president. Her skills and experiences will be a great asset to the university. I look forward to working with her."

- author not mentioned, as published in the Wheeling News-Register