‘A lot of joy’: Franciscan University of Steubenville selects new president
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio, May 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — The Franciscan University of Steubenville has revealed that Fr. David Pivonka, TOR, an alumnus of the school, is the school’s new president.
The school’s Board of Trustees was unanimous in its choice of Pivonka, the school’s seventh president, succeeding Father Sean O. Sheridan, TOR.
“There’s a lot of joy on campus now,” noted Dcn. Stephen F. Miletic, Ph.D., professor of Scripture and the university’s former chief academic officer. “Everyone seems very happy about this.”
Miletic said that Pivonka brings a new kind of energy and enthusiasm, rooted in his experience as an evangelist. “He’s kept close to the charism of preaching the Gospel, which, as a Franciscan, is an important part of the mission.”
“I am grateful to the Board — it truly was an inspired choice — one that was guided by the Holy Spirit,” said Anne Hendershott, professor of sociology at the university.
“Fr. Pivonka is a perfect leader for us at this time. He understands and values our unique charism,” continued Hendershott. “Not only is he a graduate of Franciscan, but he directed our Household faith formation system in student life. Households were crucial then in the Fr. Scanlan-led revitalization of our Catholic identity. I think Franciscan is going to be an exciting place to be: Spirit-filled and Christ-centered.”
“As Franciscan’s first alumnus president, he brings a unique array of perspective, experience, and qualifications to this role,” said Father Malachi Van Tassell, TOR, ’93, chairman of the Board of Trustees and minister provincial of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance.
“His work as a nationally known preacher and evangelist combined with prior senior-level administrative experience at Franciscan will serve the University well,” continued Van Tassell.
The board of Trustees was resolved “to find a president who was led by the Holy Spirit, a champion for dynamic orthodoxy, and an exceptionally strong executive who understands and values the unique culture and demands of academia and the importance of strong collaboration between the president and the faculty,” said David DeWolf, vice chair of the Board of Trustees and chair of the board’s Governance Committee.
“After significant prayer and a robust interview process, it quickly became clear that Father Dave Pivonka possesses all of these qualities as well as meeting all the requirements of our job specification,” continued DeWolf. “We are confident God has prepared him well to lead Franciscan, and we are excited about his presidency and what it means for the future of the University — a future full of hope.”
The author of six books, Pivonka most recently served as director of Franciscan Pathways, an evangelistic outreach of his Franciscan TOR community. He preaches at approximately 50 events annually, including retreats; workshops; pilgrimages; parish missions; and Franciscan University’s youth, young adult, and adult conferences.
“It’s both humbling and an honor to be chosen to lead Franciscan University of Steubenville,” said Pivonka. “Over 30 years ago, I first arrived at Franciscan as an undergrad and received an outstanding education as well as life-changing spiritual formation as part of a dynamic, Catholic intellectual and faith community. A lot has changed in our culture in the last 30 years, but Franciscan University continues its mission to provide a superior education in a vibrant faith community where students and parents alike can be confident in their choice of Franciscan University.”
Ordained a priest in 1996, Fr. Pivonka graduated with his B.A. in theology from Franciscan University in 1989 and earned an M.Div. and M.A. in theology from the Washington Theological Union in 1996, writing his M.A. thesis on the indissolubility of Christian marriage.
Pivonka earned a doctorate in education from the Graduate Theological Foundation in 2005 and an executive juris doctorate from Concord University School of Law of Purdue University Global in 2011.