With the retirement of President Antoinette Iadarola steadily approaching, one organization has the difficult task of choosing a new president.
They are the board of trustees headed by Theresa Cavanaugh, a 1974 graduate of Cabrini College, who was recently elected as chair of the board.
“My selection as chair of the board was a big surprise. I was asked in 2006 to become the vice chair, with the expectation that I would then become chair. I am proud that I was selected, but more than that, I feel very honored to be given this opportunity and this enormous responsibility, especially this year, with Dr. Iadarola retiring and the College needing to find a new president,” Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh not only faces the challenge of searching for Iadarola’s successor. In addition she serves as corporate director of marketing for Continuum Health Partners.
“The main responsibilities of my job are to oversee the marketing materials for three hospitals in New York. My staff works on advertising, web sites, direct mail, brochures, posters and so on. We generally promote specific clinical areas, such as our cancer services or orthopedic services, as opposed to overall hospital advertising. I also oversee a small staff that makes physician referrals,” Cavanaugh said.
As a child she grew up in Westchester County, New York and then went to high school in Topsfield, Mass. After her aunt suggested applying to Cabrini, she applied and received a full scholarship.
“I loved my time at Cabrini, and still love being on campus. I lived in Grace Hall my first two years, Woodcrest my junior year and the Mansion my senior year. I also had my wedding reception at the Mansion, so, as you can imagine, the place is very dear to me,” Cavanaugh said.
While at Cabrini, Cavanaugh studied English and philosophy. Her original plan had been to be a teacher but after college she decided that was not for her.
“Cabrini helped prepare me for the real world although, of course, we are all so much influenced by our families and friends too. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly where we learned particular skills or attitudes. One skill I have that has been very important to my career is that I can write and edit well. I see a host of young people entering the work force whose writing is terrible. I learned a lot about how to write at Cabrini,” Cavanaugh said.
Prior to joining Continuum Health Partners, Cavanaugh worked in financial services at E.F. Hutton, Shearson, Moody’s and Citibank. After her job at Citibank was eliminated, she decided she wanted to do something more interesting than financial services.
Cavanaugh believes people stress too much about the perfect choice of a career when, really, there are no perfect choices.
“I would encourage students to move forward, take some risks and try new things. If it doesn’t work out, go onto something else,” Cavanaugh said.
The board of trustees under the leadership of Cavanaugh now faces a complicated choice. The board meets three times a year, in October, February and May. Each of the committees meets at least three times a year prior to full board sessions.
“My main focus will be the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. We also made major changes in the committee structure of the board, to align ourselves with the strategic plan. I’m hopeful these changes will align the committee work more closely with the main initiatives at the college.”
Cavanaugh has so many wonderful memories of her time at Cabrini but one stands out as particularly memorable.
“A group of us English majors went to see a new production of a Tennessee Williams’ play in Philadelphia called ‘Out Cry!’ Our teacher, Dr. Frank Saul, had a friend at the theater, and Dr. Saul arranged for Tennessee Williams to go to Dr. Saul’s apartment after the play, and meet all of us students, and talk about the play. I still have my autographed Playbill. And there’s a picture of the event in an old issue of Loquitur, along with my story about it,” Cavanaugh said.
Theresa Cavanaugh has memories of Cabrini College that will last a lifetime. Now it is the board of trustees and her goal to choose a president to lead this institution and a generation of new students into the future.