116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Three women and one man make up the four-person pool of finalists to become Mount Mercy University’s 11th president and succeed the short-lived Robert “Bob” Beatty, who resigned without explanation Sept. 9 after only two months on the job and in the wake of the devastating derecho.
Starting next week and the week after, the Cedar Rapids-based regional Catholic university will welcome its finalists for campus visits, during which they’ll meet with faculty, staff, students, and the Board of Trustees.
Each finalist also will participate in an open forum, after which community stakeholders will be invited to provide feedback via a distributed survey.
The chosen finalist will be announced as Mount Mercy’s new president in May, according to spokeswoman Madelyn Orton.
Finalist names and visit dates are as follows:
Monday, April 19
Kerry Calnan currently serves as vice president of innovation and institutional effectiveness for Nichols College in Dudley, Mass. She’s an associate professor of accounting and finance, having earned a bachelor’s in accounting at Westfield State University; a Master of Business Administration from Western New England University; and a doctor of business administration in finance from Sacred Heart University.
At Nichols College, Calnan serves as an “incubator for partnership programs” — while also on faculty full time. Her research, according to the Nichols bio, focuses on the relationship between “the gender of CEO and short-termism or long-term decision making in S & P 1,500 companies.”
Calnan, who serves on a faculty advisory board for Maastricht School of Management in the Netherlands, spent more than a decade in corporate accounting and finance jobs — like with the multibillion-dollar Swiss-Swedish multinational ASEA Brown Boveri, specializing in robotics, power, electrical equipment, and automated technology.
Wednesday, April 21
Kimberly Kvaal is vice president of finance and administration and chief financial officer for Saint Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. Kvaal earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder; a master of business degree from Regis University in Denver; and doctorate of education in organizational change and leadership from the University of Southern California.
Her research focuses on increasing organizational capacity for financial sustainability. Her St. Edwards bio reports Kvaal has been with that institution since 2014 and has more than 24 years of experience in higher education.
“Her areas of responsibility include finance, facilities, human resources, auxiliaries, campus safety, and compliance and risk management,” according to St. Edwards. “She serves as a member of the president’s cabinet and is responsible for an annual operating budget of approximately $110M and an endowment of $115M.”
Monday, April 26
Todd A. Olson serves as vice president for student affairs at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He got a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota, his master’s from the University of Kansas, and a doctorate in higher education from the University of Denver.
He’s been in his vice presidential role with Georgetown for 17 years but has served as an adjunct faculty member too over his 34-year career in higher education. At the University of Denver, where Olson worked 16 years, he founded a signature academic and residential learning program.
Olson leads 15 departments and 140 professional staff in student affairs.
“Todd has been active in campus planning efforts, in policy revisions related to alcohol, sexual assault, and bias reporting, and in developing new programs linking academic and co-curricular life,” according to his Georgetown bio.
Wednesday, April 28
Sandra L. Cassady is vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the College of Health and Human Services with St. Ambrose University in Davenport. She also serves as a physical therapy professor for the private Catholic institution.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Northern Iowa, a master’s and certification in physical therapy from the University of Iowa, and a doctorate in exercise science from UI.
Specializing in cardiopulmonary physical therapy, Cassady has guest lectured on the topic; provided inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, acute, and intensive care; and edited for The Cardiopulmonary Journal and Journal of Orthopedic and Sports Physical Therapy.
A Mount Mercy candidate prospectus said the ideal applicant would be a practicing Catholic or Christian engaged in his or her faith and “committed to understanding and appreciating the Catholic tradition, especially within higher education.”
The next Mount Mercy president also should have a terminal degree and record of success in higher education leadership. Top prospects will have strong relationship, fundraising, communication, and business skills, according to the Mount Mercy position profile.
The Mount Mercy presidential search is playing out at the same time as the University of Iowa’s search to replace outgoing President Bruce Harreld. UI is bringing its first two finalists to campus this week, and its final two next week.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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