Dr. Antoinette “Toni” Iadarola took on the challenge as Cabrini College’s sixth president on July 15, 1992, the birth date of St. Frances Cabrini, for whom the school was named.
“I did not know at the time it was her birthday but I have always considered this to be a good omen,” Iadarola said in the announcement of her retirement on Friday.
Iadarola came to Cabrini with notable credentials. She was a former Fullbright Scholar, which gave her the opportunity to study at Oxford University and the London School of Economics. She graduated with a doctoral and master’s degrees in European diplomatic history from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph College.
Six years before becoming president at Cabrini College she was provost and professor of history at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. She also was provost and dean of faculty at the College of Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio.
“When I look back, I am amazed at how much was accomplished and how quickly the years seem to have passed.” Speaking in a tribute to Iadarola, Carol Serotta, associate professor of mathematics, said.
?Cabrini has grown under Iadarola’s leadership academically, structurally and financially. Enrollment has soared since her inauguration in 1992 from 732 students to 2,300 students today. The college has grown in size but the student-to-faculty ratio has helped keep the school’s small community atmosphere.
Under Iadarola’s leadership new housing was built including the Cabrini Apartment Complex, East Residence Hall and West Residence Hall. The number of students living on campus has increased from 369 residents to 1,100 residents.
Iadarola has played a major role in Cabrini’s endowments and reserves have gone from $3 million in 1992 to $28 million. The operating budget has increased from $12.3 million to over $60 million.
She has led efforts to make Cabrini 100 percent wireless; completed a $18.5 million Center for Science, Education and Technology, complete with state-of-the-art science and technology labs; built the Dixon Center, a sports and recreation center with a competition sized pool, which includes the Nerney Field House that seats 1,500; and created the Edith Robb Dixon Field synthetic playing surface and installed lighting for evening games. She raised money to renovate the former gym to turn it into the Hamilton Family Communications Center, complete with a state-of-the-art newsroom, broadcast FM radio station and video studio.
She has collaborated with surrounding communities and colleges to form partnerships. She has raised more than $17 million from private and government sources as a member and former chair of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education. Funds have been used at Cabrini for faculty development projects in global education, information technology and math and science. She formed a partnership with Drexel University to provide technology-related services to the college, the first of its kind in the nation. A community service partnership was formed with Norristown, Pa., in whichCabrini students could volunteer.
Cabrini College became the first college in the nation to sign an agreement with Catholic Relief Services to support their global outreach program. Iadarola has made community service a requirement for graduation.
Looking ahead, Iadarola plans to work on the Strategic Agenda and prepare the campus for new leadership. She hopes to begin planning a new capital campaign, which includes designs and plans for both a new campus center and the renovation of the Holy Spirit Library in the remaining time until the end of June when she will officially retire.
“Though her shoes are tiny, it will certainly be hard to find someone who will be able to fill them,” Serotta said.