Interview with Mike Groener, HNU’s new interim president
On November 1, Michael Groener, who has served as vice president for finance and administration at Holy Names University since the summer of 2016, was named interim president of the University. Groener replaced interim president, Dr. Jeanie Watson.
Groener has more than 35 years of experience working at the vice president level in higher education finance and administration. He has a wealth of experience in the development and implementation of strategic plans and projects that have helped universities attain financial sustainability.
Groener has drawn on his passion for challenges, glass-is-always-half-full optimism, and strong work ethic to succeed throughout his career.
On his 35+ years of experience working in higher education
I started working in higher education just four years out of college. Dissatisfied with some of the practices at the financial institution I worked for, I accepted a position in trust administration at Claremont Colleges. I expected to stay a couple years before moving on…Twenty-seven years later, after serving as vice president for business and finance, and treasurer, I took an early retirement. While in retirement, I continued to take consulting jobs but felt I needed more.
A former mentee, who is currently the executive vice president at Chapman University, asked if I was interested in an available position at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. I embraced the opportunity and served as a vice president for administration and finance for seven years. In my time at Occidental, I was involved in managing many exciting campus construction projects and facility renovations.
Before joining the HNU community, I worked as the CFO and vice president of finance at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where I oversaw finance and business affairs, human resources, IT, and risk management. At Drew, I implemented a successful strategic financial plan and established a financially beneficial joint-venture partnership.
Every institution I worked for prided themselves on the immersion of their students in the liberal arts and I became a strong believer in that throughout my career. I remain convinced that a liberal arts education is the best education a person can get. A good grounding in the liberal arts is a great value to an individual throughout their life and will allow them to respond well to challenges.
On HNU and the HNU community
Since joining HNU in July 2016, I have enjoyed the seemingly limitless radical hospitality. I feel very welcome here. I have gotten to know and respect my Cabinet colleagues and the dedicated faculty and staff who report to them. HNU is fortunate to have an experienced community of academic and staff professionals.
I am enjoying working here more than I have enjoyed working anywhere. This is the first time I have been so deeply involved in the strategic direction of an institution and I find that very stimulating and very challenging. I feel fortunate and honored to take on this position at HNU.
As we celebrate our 150 year milestone and march together into HNU’s future, a future that will continue to embody the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary’s (SNJM) mission of supporting the poor and marginalized, I know the SNJMs will reaffirm their dedication and commitment, inspiring the rest of us in the HNU community to follow their good example.
On where we are headed and how we will get there
As I assume responsibilities as interim president of Holy Names University, I remain as optimistic as when I arrived a year ago.
It’s an incredibly challenging time in higher education. We are in a new economic reality. Society is questioning the value of a higher education and our challenge is to keep the holistic education of the individual alive, and provide students with clear professional and vocational direction.
While we saw a decline in enrollment in recent years, we are now encouraged by a wonderful upswing in undergraduate attendance.
In the next several months we will finalize our 5-Year Plan. HNU’s financial sustainability can be enhanced through strategic affiliations and collaborations with other institutions on academic programs and on co-curricular and support activities. We can offer programs deemed of value by potential students in modalities that allow working adults to juggle work, family, and education.
We’re in the initial stages of exploring an exciting collaboration with Samuel Merritt University. This creative alliance would improve student opportunities and help expand and modernize the Holy Names campus.
I feel my career has prepared me well to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us. This is such an exciting time at HNU and I look forward to making my own contributions to the life of the University.