Photo by Tessa Marie Images.
Under her tenure as Neumann University’s fifth president, Rosalie M. Mirenda has helped usher in a great deal of change. Since she took over in 1996, the campus has tripled its enrollment, expanded its campus from 14 to 68 acres, and added residence space and doctoral programs. Earlier this year, Mirenda announced her retirement at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.
MLT: What’s been the highlight of your presidency?
RM: It had a lot to do with starting a Neumann University varsity ice hockey team [in 2000]. We had no hockey, and Aston had no rink. Ten years later, Neumann won the NCAA Division III championship. In 1999, Neumann was looking at how athletics would be a positive force on this campus. We met with some scholars who loved sports, and the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development was born. The institute has an endowment now, and it’s contributing locally and internationally.
MLT: Why is Catholic-based education important to you?
RM: It’s probably one of the only places where we can talk about religion or think about God and one’s own spirit and spirituality in a public domain.
MLT: What made you want to get into education?
RM: I was introduced to the possibility of teaching nursing by a wonderful person who said to me, “I know you like teaching—you enjoy patient education. You ought to think about teaching nursing.” I learned so much through those early years, and I grew in my love and respect of what education might be.
MLT: How did Neumann get past its limitations as a commuter school?
RM: The decision to become residential occurred in 1995-96, which is when the search for the next president took place. That was part of the vision they handed to me. I was able to bring it to fruition, with help from lots of people.
MLT: What are your plans after you retire?
RM: I’m going to have to reckon with that. I have lots of different ideas, but I’m not really ready to say—except that I want to retire gracefully.