University announces new president


Written By Jordyn Hronec, Editor-in-Chief

On Monday, April 12, the university sent an email announcing the hiring of a new university president. The announcement comes after a search conducted by the Board of Trustees following President Paul Hennigan’s retirement announcement last semester.

Dr. Donald J. Green will be Point Park University’s eighth president, beginning this summer.

Green is currently the president of Georgia Highlands College in Rome, Georgia. According to a press release from the university, Green also “has 25 years of leadership in education, including 13 years at a state university, six years at a private university and six more at a state college.”

Green’s tenure at Point Park will begin following a year where the university has been impacted significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the university has been operating on a budget deficit, which, according to Senior Vice President of Finance, Bridget Mancosh, was originally projected to be $7.5 million. At a recent town hall meeting hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA) to address the non-renewals of 17 full-time faculty members, Mancosh stated that it has since decreased, but overall, a deficit still exists.

“What we wanted to do is we wanted to reduce the budget by at least $3 million,” Mancosh said during the meeting. “So we wanted to make budget cuts at a minimum of $3 million. Ideally you want to cover the whole thing, but that was our target.”

The administration says that one of the main factors contributing to this deficit was lowered enrollment for the 2020-2021 freshman class due to the pandemic. In its press release, the university credited Green with leading “an institutional turnaround, including enrollment, retention, employee compensation and an improvement in the college’s financial condition,” at Georgia Highlands College.

In a news release about Green’s departure, Georgia Highlands College also said that “Green’s leadership helped increase GHC’s economic impact to over $181 million. In addition to significant increases to the college’s foundation and student scholarship opportunities, he also oversaw the addition of a 52,000-square foot academic building focused on STEAM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) areas of study.”

Green also emphasized his commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“I firmly believe a University needs to ensure that it is providing equal care and service to all members of its community, regardless of race, nationality, religion, gender or sexual identity. Just as important is economic equity and doing what we can to make higher education available and affordable to all people,” Green said in the press release. “I have taken those values to heart throughout my entire career in education.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion is something that the university has been taking steps to improve over the past year. Last school year, students in the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA) advocated for the cancellation of the show “Adding Machine,” which included racist statements and sentiments, sparking a conversation about how diversity and inclusion is handled not only in COPA, but across the university. 

In response, President Hennigan started two “steering committees,” one for COPA and one for the whole university, to begin addressing systemic issues. COPA also postponed the show “Parade,” which also includes racially sensitive material, indefinitely. And this semester, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, led by Vice President of Human Resources, Lisa Stefanko, opened on campus. 

However, as demonstrated by a COPA town hall last week to address a potential instance of whitewashing in the casting of the upcoming show, “The Wild Party,” issues of diversity, equity and inclusion still exist on campus. 

In the press release, President Paul Hennigan expressed his support of the new hire.

“I am honored to have worked with so many talented people affiliated with Point Park over the years. Together, we have built so much that has influenced the lives of so many,” Hennigan said. “I will do everything I can to support Dr. Green as the University’s next president, and I see a bright future ahead for Point Park under his leadership.”

SGA President Dennis McDermott represented the student body on the presidential search committee. During its Monday legislative body meeting, McDermott announced Green’s hiring to the legislative body.

“I just want to stress the importance to everyone in SGA that we’re going to be working with this person a lot, so we want to come out of the gate and establish a good relationship with this person, but also kind of let him know we mean business with the things that we want to get done for students and that we want to take action right away,” McDermott said. 

Green will begin serving as president alongside a brand new provost as well, Dr. Michael Soto from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, who was hired to replace previous provost Dr. John Pearson. Pearson retired at the end of the fall semester, with Acting Provost Jonas Prida serving in the interim.

“The search process was extensive and inclusive,” chairman of the Board of Trustees, Joe Greco, said in the announcement to the campus community. “The Board thanks the members of the University community who represented students, alumni, faculty and staff on the Search Committee. The Committee reviewed more than 100 applications, and refined the pool to 12 semi-finalists that resulted in four diverse candidates submitted to the Board of Trustees. It is from that final group that Dr. Green was selected.”

“Point Park’s intense focus on diversity, student success and experiential learning is right in line with my core values as an educator,” Green said in the press release. “I am excited to immerse myself in so much of what Point Park and the Pittsburgh region has to offer.”