Dear Saint Mary’s Faculty and Staff:

Recently, our dear friends and benefactors – the Slaggie Family – gifted Saint Mary’s with a transformative $10 million gift for innovative, faith-based education. As I expressed during our State of the University, it is important that we continue to share in moments of genuine celebration, recognizing how blessed we have been with renewed growth in our undergraduate program and incredibly generous donors who believe in our direction. While we celebrate these accomplishments, we also must continue to navigate the challenge of declining credit hours in our graduate and bachelor completion programs.

To further our academic, enrollment, and philanthropic growth, earlier this month, I formed a special committee – the Financial Accountability and Strategic Thinking (FAST) Task Force – to focus on enrollment strategies and to conduct an intensive review of the current and future state of our graduate and bachelor completion programs. The committee’s leadership team consists of Dr. Max Bonilla, provost and dean of faculties; Mr. Andy Dirksen, chief of staff; Dr. Michael McMahon, vice president for enrollment management; and Ms. Michelle Rovang, vice president for marketing and communication. The task force will be chaired by Dr. McMahon. I am confident that we will make very good progress in the months ahead as we collaboratively create positive solutions for our current graduate enrollment and operational challenges.

I recognize this will take our collective efforts and I thank you in advance for your willingness to work with the team if asked to participate more directly. Be assured I have asked the task force to provide regular communication updates to the community as work progresses. As we navigate through this next stage of engaging our mission, know that I greatly appreciate your commitment and dedication to Saint Mary’s and our students. As we face strong headwinds in higher education, I know that by continuing to join together in these ways we will create not only a sustainable university but one that will thrive for decades to come.

Live Jesus in our hearts, forever!

Father Burns

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