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President Moves Mount Forward

Katelyn Phanan
MSM Class of 2011

(2/28) President Simon Newman has had an exciting first year at Mount St. Maryís University. After six months of carefully listening to constituents of the Mount, Newman has begun a sweeping wave of changes known as Mount 2.0. His goal is to move the whole Mount community toward the central vision of becoming "meaningful contributors to the world," while always being mindful of the Mountís strong Catholic roots.

The President has pursued this goal, in part, by instituting a series titled Justice in America Today. These events, which are open to the Emmitsburg community, have enjoyed fabulous success. Seniors Casteel Johnson and Stephen Witkowski note the significance of these Town Hall-style events in promoting awareness and action among students and sparking campus-wide conversations on such subjects as race in America and the Syrian Refugee Crisis.

Newmanís improvement initiatives have touched on almost all aspects of the Mount, from opening channels of communication through student and faculty forums, to sending students to Cambridge University for summer study. The sizes of some sports teams have been increased to allow more students to participate, state-of-the-art classrooms are being constructed to improve the classroom environment, student lounges and study spaces have been added, and most importantly, the core curriculum has been pruned to allow students more opportunity to select more electives and courses within their area of study which will help ready them for the challenging environment that awaits them upon graduation.

While Newman has accomplished much in his first year, he has plenty of ideas, both lofty and necessary for the Mountís continued success still to accomplish. They include: growing the University to 3,000 students within the next decade to more efficiently cover the Universityís overhead costs, improving the existing physical plant, constructing new dorms to accommodate that growth, and adding new academic programs to keep up with the ever-developing job market.

The key to all of these plans is financial, which is Newmanís area of expertise. He has already combed through the Mountís finances and pruned the budget where possible. Some of those decisions have been painful, and the perception of uncertainty they have caused, Newman acknowledges, have been challenges this first year.

"Transitions can be difficult and sometimes create consternation as theyíre getting underway," he says. However, these changes have allowed the President to begin to invest in areas which are essential to the schoolís growth, including increasing the faculty development fund that supports professional development.

Many, including students, are excited about the new direction. Senior Class President, Vrunda Patel, says that she and her friends "always wish [they] were going to be freshmen next year, just so [they] could witness the expansion of the Mount under Newman." Patel cites Newmanís tenacity and his eagerness to listen to students as qualities which have marked his leadership this first year.

President Newman recognizes the importance of the community in the Mountís operation. He sees the Mount as an integral part of Emmitsburg, and vice versa. As the largest single employer in the area, the Mount distributes $20 million annually through its payroll, and most of this stays within a five-mile radius of the University. The Mount is the destination of students, parents, alumni, and worshippers, who all go on to patronize businesses in the community of Emmitsburg. The town and the university must grow symbiotically, in Newmanís opinion, in order to thrive.

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs confirms Newmanís enthusiastic involvement in Emmitsburg and says that he and Newman are "working closely on several mutual opportunities and challenges to cultivate community growth." According to Briggs "the President is an astute businessman and has hit the ground running. He deeply loves the Mount students. This is something I have not only heard, but have seen in action on many occasions."

One of the Presidentís goals is to ensure that members of the surrounding communities know they are always welcome at the Mount, be it a sport event or the upcoming Living Stations of the Cross, are open to the public. Come visit, and witness these and future changes on campus firsthand.

Learn more about President Newmanís Mount 2.0 initiative

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