President William J. Hynes, Ph.D. reached the 45-day mark as Holy Names University’s 17th President on September 14th. Since he assumed office on August 1st, his time has been filled with high energy, new ideas and substantive community dialogue.
A Warm Reception
As soon as he arrived on campus, President Hynes immersed himself into listening, learning and planning strategic priorities for the year ahead. He has been highly visible at a large number of events, including Orientation Weekend’s Rite of Passage Ceremony, Convocation and the Faculty Senate. He has met with members of the Sisters of the Holy Names, Board of Trustees, Regents, alumni, and donors. He held meetings with faculty and staff, participated in a three-day strategic planning retreat with senior university administrators, and met with a wide cross-section of student groups and organizations. He said, “I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know the community. I feel extremely welcomed and feel people’s excitement about what we can do together.”
The opportunity to explore the hopes, needs and challenges of each of the University’s stakeholders, affirmed for President Hynes the academic and administrative strengths of the University community. “I am impressed with the density of human talent at all levels,” he shared. “I have learned that the heft of the institution, the feel of the institution, is double what it looks like on paper. There is a tremendous alignment of talent both within the institution, and in support of the institution; Holy Names University is well loved, well respected and increasingly well supported.”
Sharing the Holy Names University ethos with the greater community, the Oakland Bay Area region, and the world, is a priority for the new President. “We have an excellent mission that is distinct and vital. The challenge is that our ethos or mission is not as widely known as it deserves to be,” said President Hynes. “Today, we tend to call this ‘our brand’. Growing up I thought a brand was a hot instrument applied to the hind end of an animal. Now I see brand as the essence that arises from an institution; it is who we are. In terms of Holy Names, we are a community dedicated to the success of every one of our students. For 142 years we have been transforming human beings into leaders for tomorrow.”
President Hynes advocates that strengthening the University’s existing relationship with the Oakland Bay Area community and forming new relationships is inextricably tied to greater visibility to the University and its brand. As he sees it, “the University’s deep commitment and consistency to its core values attracts a diverse array of people who resonate with our core values. Our students want to be part of our community because they find that when they embrace our core values, they are empowered for success and for contributing to the common good.” Towards that end, President Hynes looks forward to telling the historic Holy Names story of civic engagement to the wider community and helping to deepen the depth and breadth of that engagement in the future.
A Community in Transition
One needs only to hear of President Hynes’ record of academic and business achievements to know that his talents are a good reciprocal fit to the current needs of Holy Names University. A veteran administrator in Catholic higher education, Hynes speaks glowingly of his predecessor, Sr. Rosemarie Nassif, SSND: “She has left an amazing legacy. Holy Names University will be forever in her debt.” Hynes eagerly accepts the not insignificant challenge to harness the momentum of his predecessor and to achieve new levels of academic, financial and fundraising success. A firm partnership with the University community, alumni, donors, faculty, and staff is key and Hynes implores each constituency to contribute by reconnecting with the HNU of today and sharing what they believe makes HNU unique.
When asked how community members can contribute, Hynes said “open your hearts, open your minds and come for a visit. Come see what we are doing today, come see our students and come to tell the ones who educated you how critically important that was. Tell us your most important memories about your times at Holy Names. Tell us about the one thing this President should never ever change. Tell us about the moral moments you remember, moments such as when the Sisters, faculty and staff stood up for social justices and human dignity, and made a difference in the community.”
A Bright Future Ahead
No one is more excited about the future of Holy Names University than Dr. Hynes. An avid wine connoisseur, he evokes a favored viticulturist expression, “the vines that have had to overcome the greatest challenges often give the best wine”, to describe Holy Names University. “Human faith in our mission, resilient acts of altruism, and courage to succeed in the face of formidable challenges, has produced a powerfully focused, nimble, and creative University.”
After just 45 days on the job, the President’s interaction with the community frames his vision for an auspicious future. “The community’s radical commitment to diversity, hospitality, and social justice is phenomenal; it is one of the major advantages of Holy Names University.” He continued, “right now, where we stand, there’s no better and no more important place for an educational institution to be. Because we are part of an inspiring, energizing, empowering organization, with God’s help we can produce inspiring, energizing, and powerful results.”
From the Fall 2010 issue of HNU Today, a magazine for Alumni and Friends of Holy Names University.