It’s been nearly a year since Helen Drinan took over the presidency of Cabrini University in an interim capacity. Since the 2022 fall semester, a presidential search committee has been searching for the right candidate to become Cabrini’s next president.
On the morning of Monday, Feb. 13, an email was sent out on behalf of Amy Lambert, the chair of Cabrini’s board of trustees and a member of Cabrini’s presidential search committee. The email stated that the board voted to cease the presidential search, and extend Drinan’s contract as interim president.
The board of trustees said they have full confidence in Drinan, and they have asked her to stay through the completion of the three-year recovery plan approved at the October 2022 board meeting.
“President Drinan has been an excellent leader for Cabrini in the short time that she’s been with our campus,” said Michelle Filling-Brown, dean of Academic Affairs. ”She’s created considerable positive momentum for our campus and having the stability of her leadership for the next few years will create positive organizational change.”
Dr. Dawn Francis, chair of the communication department and a member of the search committee said, “I was surprised by the decision to disband the presidential search committee because we were moving deeper into the process of beginning to vet potential candidates.”
Many students are happy with Drinan staying as interim president for the next three years. “I think it makes sense since she’s the one that made the three-year plan,” said Maggie Kelly, junior early education and special education major. “There’s also, now, less anxiety around having to find a new president by the end of the year.”
The original plan for the committee was to select a new president by the 2023-2024 school year.
The search committee included the president of the Student Government Association, senior criminology and psychology major Emily Wainwright, as a student representative. Like Francis, Wainwright was surprised by the board’s decision.
“My initial reaction was that I didn’t know exactly what was happening. We had interviews scheduled for candidates that we were previously looking at,” Wainwright said. “They had sent us an email saying that the interview dates got canceled.”
What happens now?
For now, Drinan will be Cabrini’s interim president until the school’s three-year recovery plan is fully executed. The three-year recovery plan approved in October 2022 will help the school achieve the financial stability required to maintain independence.
To do this, Cabrini is considering possible partnerships with other institutions of higher education. Cabrini has already made progress on reducing its operating budget while protecting students by launching an online Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program (EdD). This online EdD program is just one example of planned growth in Cabrini’s adult education. Collaboration with other institutions of higher education such as community colleges to expand both its undergraduate and graduate populations. With questions about Cabrini’s future still looming, the school, many hope Drinan’s recovery plan can get Cabrini on the right path to success.