October 16, 2020
Dear Carlow University Faculty and Staff,
At today’s meeting of Carlow’s Board of Trustees, I announced my plans to retire when my contract expires on June 30, 2021. It has been a tremendous honor for me to serve as President of Carlow University these past eight years and to be the steward of the mission of this great University and its founders, the Sisters of Mercy.
It is, and has always been for me, about the students and ensuring that we provide a values-based excellent education, access to those who have the goal of higher education, and prepare them for a world where they lead, and in turn, commit to serving their community. In my time throughout higher education, I have never tired of the privilege and honor it is to serve the students who will be our future. I have enjoyed every day, both the challenges and the opportunities, and have been very fortunate to lead such a remarkable team of faculty and staff. What makes Carlow special is its people and the culture we share, imbued with the values of our founders.
The decision to retire was not an easy one, but as I considered my growing family and the eleven grandchildren born since I came to Pittsburgh, I decided that it was time to turn my attention and energies to not only them, but to other areas that I feel will expand my service and interests in new ways. These past months of the pandemic have underscored the precious and finite nature of our time in this life.
While there remains work to do, I believe the University is well positioned for the future. Our new strategic plan, The Carlow Commitment, provides a roadmap with the critical pivots needed to assure Carlow’s future and our five-year budget supports the plan. The creation of the new graduate health sciences programs, already well underway, a new 21st Century Center for Innovation and Workforce Development, re-structuring of our colleges and integration of liberal arts with professional programs, and ongoing improvements to infrastructure are investments in our future that will support new revenue growth and enhance Carlow’s position in the market. The development of our property on Fifth Avenue will reinforce this by increasing our visibility in the innovation district and providing state of the art facilities to support our entire University. Together with continued focus on innovation, academic excellence, fiscal discipline and our commitment to social justice, Carlow will continue to serve an important role in educating future leaders for the region and beyond.
This past year has been the most challenging of my presidency, with the safety of our students, faculty and staff foremost in my mind. Meeting this challenge has required the support and active engagement of every member of our campus community. Your tireless efforts, driven by a deep commitment to our students and institution, have been a source of great encouragement, pride and inspiration. You have clearly demonstrated the leadership, commitment and tenacity needed to advance the University’s mission and priorities. And I am confident that you will.
As I reflect back on the past eight years, there are many accomplishments that I share with the entire community: the completion of two strategic plans to drive the vision for the University; a successful Middle States Decennial Review; expansion of academic programs of excellence building on the strengths of Carlow with addition of new specialty accreditations; turn-arounds in adult education and certificate programs with focus on workforce development and a rebounding of graduate programs; traditional student enrollment has seen growth through new pipelines of athletics and attractive programs; student outcomes that have shown strong growth in retention, student success, and unparalleled career outcomes; completion of the first comprehensive campaign for the University that exceeded goal; signature capital projects that have transformed the University through the University Commons, the St. Joseph Fitness Center, and State of the Art Clinical Simulation Centers; an endowment that has grown by 100%; creation of signature institutes and centers that exemplify our mission in the Social Justice Institutes and the Atkins Center for Ethics. These are your accomplishments as much as mine and for this I thank you.
Over the course of my career, I have had the pleasure of working with many talented and highly dedicated academics, administrators, and leaders. The professional caliber and quality of the team at Carlow is exceptional and your dedication to our students and University was never so visible as it has been these past many months since the Covid-19 global pandemic entered our lives. I believe Carlow plays an important role in the region, contributing in critical ways to its future through the continuation of the mission we steward from our founders, the Sisters of Mercy. I have every confidence that we are well positioned for the future, to prepare our students to be leaders, committed to creating a more just and merciful world.
Suzanne K. Mellon