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By Liesel Riggs
Director of Marketing and Communications, Siena Heights University
May 20, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, announced her retirement from her ministry as President of Siena Heights University, effective at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year. Her last day will be June 30, 2023.
Sister Peg has served as President of Siena Heights University for 16 years and will complete her 17th year at the time of her retirement. She was named the 10th President of Siena Heights University in 2006.
Sister Peg received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wayne State University in Detroit and master’s and doctorate degrees in social work from Barry University in Miami, Florida. She did her post-doctoral work at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and completed post-doctoral classes at Barry University.
"My goals when I arrived on campus in 2006 were to develop the campus, develop trusting relationships with the people of Siena, and to grow enrollment,” Sister Peg said. “I have done my best to do so. Now it is time for someone else to take Siena to the next level. I have all the faith in the world that Siena will continue to grow with its new strategic plan, the STEER process, and the new program starting this summer for retention, Moving the Needle. And I know that my leadership team and the faculty and staff are committed to see Siena Heights grow into its future.”
“It is with mixed emotion that I learned of Sister Peg’s retirement,” said Dusty Steele, Chair of the Board. “As President, her accomplishments were many, but nothing more significant than the multitude of relationships she developed with students, faculty, staff, and members of the greater community. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we greatly appreciate all she has given Siena Heights University and we are grateful to have her leadership for the next year.”
A few notable highlights of Sister Peg’s tenure include:
The freezing of tuition rates for its Adrian campus undergraduate students for the 2008-09 academic year, a move almost unprecedented for small, private universities.
The establishment in 2009 of a nursing program. The fully accredited program now has pre-licensure, RN to BSN and MSN degree paths. Siena Heights University also established new majors in 2017, such as exercise science, cybersecurity, and agroecology.
The establishment in 2010 of a football program, followed by other new co-curricular programs, such as bowling, lacrosse, cheer and dance, and marching band.
The building and dedication of new buildings, including the O’Laughlin Stadium and Dawson Field for the football program in 2011; the McLaughlin University Center in 2013; the Spencer Performing Arts Center in 2018; the Centennial Mall in 2019 to mark the University’s 100th anniversary; and the Patricia A. Erickson Enrollment and Welcome Center in 2020.
The “On Higher Ground” campaign in 2012, which helped Siena Heights University raise more than $19 million in gifts and pledges – surpassing its original goal of $13 million.
Record enrollment on the Adrian campus in 2016, surpassing 1,000 full-time undergraduate students.
The introduction in 2021 of the SHU Global brand, the student experience of educating professional working students. This includes undergraduate and graduate students at one of Siena’s several Michigan locations, as well as the national ranked Online Program.
The beginning of the “Being Bolder, Reaching New Heights” five-year strategic plan in 2022. This includes initiatives ranging from areas like innovation to marketing/branding to diversity and inclusion. All these efforts are focused on making a better university and will position Siena Heights University for a sustainable future. This comprehensive plan also includes a university-wide formal examination of the university’s curricular and co-curricular activities. Representatives from all areas of the university, including the strategic plan partner, Credo, are involved in the process.
These accomplishments were made possible with the help of Sister Peg’s President’s Cabinet team and the Siena Heights community, a testament to her collaborative leadership style and her focus on facilitating change rather than imposing it.
“We still have a great deal of work to do this coming year to assure Siena’s sustainability,” Sister Peg said. “I will continue to work as hard as I ever have this coming academic year. The 2022-23 academic year will be a busy one for all of us as we continue to implement all the plans we have made for Siena’s future as we move into the next 100 years!”
The Siena Heights University Board of Trustees will begin the presidential search this summer.
Feature photo: Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, lights the torch during the dedication of Siena Heights University’s Centennial Mall, August 2019. Photo Courtesy of Siena Heights University Marketing and Communications Office
May 9, 2022, Adrian, Michigan – Barry University in Miami, Florida, and Siena Heights in Adrian, Michigan – both founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters –honored the Congregation through the Prioress and General Council during their Commencement ceremonies late April and early May.
During its May 6, 2022, Commencement, Barry University bestowed the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in Absentia on Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, JD, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She was in Rome, attending the 2022 assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), during the Commencement ceremonies of both universities.
Sister Patricia is the founder and former executive director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University School of Law, an initiative advancing laws and policies designed to protect the systems, species and entities that sustain life on Earth and advocating for the recognition that all creatures and natural systems have their own rights to “exist and flourish.”
Also receiving the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters was Joy Taylor, the Commencement speaker, a Barry University Alumna and radio host for FOX Sports; Maximo “Max” Alvarez, an émigré from Cuba, founder and Director of Sunshine Gas Producers, and a generous benefactor to Barry University; Dr. Marvin Dunn, President of the Miami Center for Racial Justice, a racial justice advocate, and an expert on race and ethnic issues; and Cheryl Little, Esq., Co-founder and Executive Director of Americans for Immigrant Justice and an expert on immigration law.
Siena Heights University bestowed Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters on the five members of the General Council on April 29, 2022, the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, during its Honors Convocation. After outstanding students were recognized for their efforts in academics, sports, and service, Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University, bestowed the honorary degrees on Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; and Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP.
Sister Patricia Siemen, on behalf of the General Council and the Adrian Dominican Sisters, thanked Siena Heights University for the honor and for its living out of the Congregation’s mission and vision.
During its May 7, 2022, and May 8, 2022, Commencement ceremonies, Siena Heights will also bestow an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in absentia to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his leadership, courage, sense of justice, and willingness to put his life in harm’s way to defend Ukraine’s freedom.
Contributing to this article were Meredith Amor, Director of Communications and Marketing, Barry University, and Liesel Riggs, Interim Director of Communications at Siena Heights University