What's Happening


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

February 23, 2021, Watsonville, California – During a time of growing concern over the inequity of COVID-19 vaccination distribution, Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital of Santa Cruz took special care to reach out to essential workers who might otherwise have been overlooked. The hospital oversaw the vaccination of roughly 1,100 agriculture workers in Watsonville, California.

Dr. Nanette Mickiewicz, President and CEO of Dominican Hospital, said the hospital received vaccine from CommonSpirit Health, its healthcare system. After vaccinating its healthcare partners and employees, Dominican Hospital was directed to use the excess vaccine within seven days. 

The hospital’s Director of Community Benefits, Dominique Hollister, reached out to the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau and the California Strawberry Commission. “They had been working on a plan to prioritize vaccinations so that when they became available, it would be easy to distribute them,” Nan said. “We decided to try from an equity standpoint to get [the vaccine] to the county. We’ve seen a disproportionate number of people who got COVID-19 from here because of the close quarters.”

Much of the groundwork had already been laid by the Farm Bureau and the Strawberry Commission, who had compiled a list of people in Watsonville who needed to be vaccinated. “We got them all in our computer system, as many as we could,” Nan explained. 

“It was an amazing outpouring of service,” Nan said. A crew of volunteer physicians and nurses went to Casserly Hall in Watsonville to vaccinate the agriculture workers during a two-day clinic, she explained. In addition, 13 volunteers from the community registered the patients outside of the hall. While the agriculture workers stayed in the hall for 15 minutes after being vaccinated, doctors and nurses monitored them for possible reactions to the vaccine. 

The volunteers who ran the vaccination clinic were also attentive to the special needs of the agriculture workers. All of the information on the vaccines was in Spanish as well as in English, and some volunteers were able to communicate with patients who didn’t speak standard Spanish. Volunteers also helped those who couldn’t read. 

During the clinic, participants were also given appointments to receive the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In most cases, Nan said, the agriculture workers were brought to the clinic by their employers, who will make sure that they return for their second dose. 

The agriculture workers are not the only special group that Dominican Hospital has vaccinated. Recently, volunteers from the hospital also vaccinated 600-700 pre-school to first-grade teachers at the request of the Superintendent of Schools, who approached Nan during the clinic for the agriculture workers. 

Vaccination of the teachers in the lower grades would allow the schools to be opened up, Nan said. “It would be amazing to have children back in school,” she said. “We have a lot of employees who left the work force or took a leave of absence because they had to teach their children at home.”

Nan, her husband, and other physicians from Dominican Hospital also spent New Year’s Eve vaccinating about 100 residents of Dominican Oaks, a retirement apartment complex behind the hospital. 

“We are trying to be targeted in our approach,” Nan explained. “We work with the health officer to make sure we don’t get too far ahead.”

Dominican Hospital has been using the Pfizer vaccine. “Pfizer is very challenging because of the temperatures that are involved,” storage at about ­-70 degrees Centigrade, Nan explained. “Our goal is to wind down our vaccination efforts in the next few weeks and pass the baton on to doctors’ offices.” The doctors’ offices will use the Moderna vaccine, which doesn’t require storage at such low temperatures, she added.

Nan said the hospital’s efforts in vaccinating populations such as the agriculture workers are very consistent with its mission. “We’ve been here 80 years,” she said. “Our mission is always to take care of the community, including our disenfranchised community members. That’s why we wanted to do outreach – to get to people who might not necessarily have access to the vaccine.”

Nan said she is especially gratified by the attitude of the physicians and other employees. “They want to keep this going,” she said. “They believe in the mission.”

Founded and long sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Dominican Hospital is now a part of the CommonSpirit Health, a Catholic healthcare system created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. The Adrian Dominican Congregation is now one of 16 participating congregations of women religious with connections to CommonSpirit.


Feature photo: Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels



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