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New Mount St. Joseph president promises to form ‘ethical leaders’

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

By Eileen Connelly, OSU

ST. LAWRENCE DEANERY — The newly inaugurated president of the College of Mount St. Joseph, Anthony J. Aretz, says that one of his priorities will be to integrate ethics training into the college’s academic and other programs, an approach he hopes will better prepare Mount graduates for leadership in a troubled society.

“Our country, our city, our schools, our churches, our world, needs ethical leaders,” he said. “Our goal is no less than the Mount is going to establish itself as a national leader in undergraduate ethical leadership development.”

Aretz, who took office last July, was formally installed as the sixth president of the College of Mount St. Joseph on March 19, a date that is significant both for the school and its new leader. March 19 is the feast day of St. Joseph, patron saint of the college, and the groundbreaking for the current campus took place on that day in 1960.

Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr and Anthony J. Aretz, the new president of the College of Mount St. Joseph, visit with guests following the inauguration Mass. (CT/Tony Tribble)

In his inauguration address, Aretz said the vision for promoting ethical leadership will be accomplished by the college’s becoming one of the first civilian colleges or universities in the nation to successfully establish “a comprehensive and systematic ethical leadership development program that fully integrates all aspects of the undergraduate experience,” including academic and co-curricular activities.

“These experiences will provide the theory, context and practical experience necessary for our graduates not only to have successful careers, but that they will, more importantly, possess the moral courage to live personal lives of integrity, promote justice and speak the truth,” he said.

“The excellent educational experience we provide at the College of Mount St. Joseph will be enhanced to more deliberately aid in the moral and ethical development of our students. We will enable our graduates to become the best ethical leaders they can be, so that our country continues to be the great nation that it is today, and that we will continue to enjoy the freedoms that so many have sacrificed so much to create,” Aretz added.

“What the Mount can offer is a unique ethical leadership development experience, an experience grounded in the intellectual tradition and the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the spiritual charism of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, so that our graduates make a difference,” Aretz said.

He emphasized the importance of Catholic identity for the college. “As a Catholic institution, we believe certain truths. First of all, we believe in God.  Second, we believe that God created us with a sacred nature. We are not just biological material that happens to think, but sacred beings with immortal souls.  Unfortunately, much of our public discourse tends to portray just the opposite — that human nature is not special.”

“It is my hope that the College of Mount St. Joseph will educate and develop leaders that given the opportunity will rise to the occasion and have the moral courage to do the right things for the right reason,” Aretz said.

Aretz spoke of the Mount’s proud heritage and the college’s many accomplishments through the years. He also noted the courage and purpose with which the Mount community responds to any need or challenge and praised the strong leadership of two past presidents, Ursuline Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill and Sister of Charity Jean Patrice Harrington.

“I’m sure you will all agree, and many have told me they do, that this has been an interesting year to assume a college presidency,” Aretz said. “From the winds of Hurricane Ike that battered Cincinnati and our campus, to the throes of the current economic tsunami, to the arson fires and tragic death of one of our students just a couple of weeks ago, we have had our share of challenges. . .  but it has been a year when the Mount community has again risen to the occasion, persevered and demonstrated why the Mount is so special.”

Inauguration day events included a Mass celebrated by Cincinnati Coadjutor Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr in the college’s Mater Dei Chapel. Concelebrants included Father John Amankwah, assistant professor of communications studies at the Mount; Father Jim Walsh, pastor of St. Dominic Parish; Father Chris Lack, associate pastor; and Father James Reutter, pastor of our Lady of Victory.

An investiture ceremony conducted by the Mount’s board of trustees and Sisters of Charity followed in the college theatre. The ceremony began with a procession that included students and graduates representing each of the years from 1938 to 2008.

Representing the Sisters of Charity, who founded the college in 1920, was Sister of Charity Barbara Hagedorn, president of the local congregation, who noted the order’s gratitude for Aretz’ “willingness as you help craft the next chapters of the story. You bring to it your commitment to Catholic higher education, to the mission of the college and to the mission of the Sisters of Charity. We promise our prayers, our support and our blessing for you on this great occasion of your inauguration.

The Mount community’s formal gifts to Aretz included an album of images from the college’s past from alumni; a diploma of welcome from the students; a brick engraved in his honor in the Elizabeth Seton Legacy Garden to be dedicated in August in Emmitsburg, Md., the book, A Retreat with Elizabeth Seton, from administration and staff; and an engraved pen from the faculty.

Aretz took office as the Mount’s president on July 1, 2008, after serving as academic vice president of Christian Brothers University (CBU) in Memphis, Tenn. Aretz is also a former member of the faculty at the United States Air Force Academy; he retired from the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel after serving 28 years.

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