In a letter to Neumann University students, staff and parents, longtime school President Dr. Roslie Mirenda announced plans to retire at the conclusion of this school year.
“Together with my husband and family, I thought and prayed at length about this decision,” Mirenda wrote. “The Lord has shown us in many ways that now is the right time for this transition for us and for our beloved Neumann University. Our leadership team is strong; the Middle States Commission on Higher Education reaffirmed our accreditation and commended our self-study process. Our university trustees are the most wonderful of people; they are courageous leaders with the acumen to continue to guide the institution to new and greater heights. The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, as they have for more than 50 years, continue their sponsorship and support of Neumann and its Catholic Franciscan identity and mission.”
After being a professor of Nursing for many years, Mirenda was named president of then-Neumann College in July 1996. During her 20-year tenure, school enrollment tripled from 900 to 2,900 students, annual and capital giving increased by more than 30 percent, the campus has expanded from 14 to 68 acres, new academic programs were added (including three doctorates), athletic teams have grown from nine to 24, and state-of-the-art residence halls have been built to accommodate more than 700 students.
“Dr. Mirenda has been a tireless advocate and savvy visionary for Neumann while never taking her eye off its Catholic Franciscan identity,” said Board of Trustees Chairman James Delaney. “(She) has prepared us for this moment of change and transition. We have an academically robust faculty and staff who are committed to student success, and a strategic plan to guide us through 2019. Her faith-based leadership and voice enhanced Neumann’s commitment to its Catholic Franciscan mission, which is grounded in the belief that knowledge, while valuable in itself, is best used in the service of others.”
In 2009, the university opened the Mirenda Center for Sport, Spirituality and Character Development, a 72,000 square foot facility named for her and her husband, Tony, who is always by her side during school events.
Athletic fields were added and upgraded and science and nursing laboratories were renovated as was the library and the chapel.
Mirenda has served on many boards, including the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the PA Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Seton Hall University, Archmere Academy, Holy Child Academy, and the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Recently, she served on the board of the World Meeting of Families 2015, Inc., and served as chair of Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary’s Task Force on College, which completed its work in June 2013.
She was appointed by the late Bishop Joseph McFadden to the ExCorde Ecclesiae Working Group for the Committee on Catholic Education of the US Conference of Bishops. Neumann, through Mirenda’s efforts, spearheaded the formation of the Drexel Neumann Academy in Chester, now celebrating its 10th year as the city’s only parochial grade school.
Over the years, Mirenda has received various awards and recognition, which include the Gary Papa Award (2013) from the Delaware County Community Foundation; the Sons of Italy Distinguished Achievement Award (2013); the Sourin Award (2012) from the Catholic Philopatrian Society; the Catholic Graduate Hall of Fame Award (2011) from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; the Woman on the Move Award (2011) from Main Line Times; The Keys and Sword Award (2011) from Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul; and the Catholic Leadership Institute Award (2010).
She also received the Outstanding Alumnus Award (2006) from Widener University, the Pontifical Honor of the Cross, Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (2003), and the Nursing Alumna Award (1999) from Villanova University. In 2005, Mirenda was awarded the honorary degree from Saint Charles Seminary.
Delaney said the board is formalizing a search for Mirenda’s successor.
“I will oversee the search committee that will be representative of our trustees, alumni, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, faculty, staff, and students, Delaney said. “This committee, to be co-led by two experienced trustees, will review and interview candidates who respond to our search and recommend finalists to the Board of Trustees for final approval and recommendation to the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for their affirmation.”
Delaney also said Mirenda will be honored appropriately at a future time.