New Benedictine University president brings 'diverse background'
The next president of Benedictine University in Lisle says he wants to build the institution into "a leading voice in Catholic higher education."
Longtime educator Michael S. Brophy, who was named Tuesday as the 11th president in Benedictine's 128-year history, said he'll do that by learning, listening, leading and shaping it all into a story of how to advance change.
"My hope would be that we are a very high-functioning Catholic university with a national profile and certainly one that is very committed to staying in our Catholic faith as we were called to do," he said.
He has taught music, film and English at the university level in addition to working in enrollment, serving as an associate provost and running an entire university campus. His wide range of higher education experiences made him an appealing candidate to members of Benedictine's search committee, such as Provost Maria de la Cámara.
"He has a diverse background," de la Cámara said. "He's someone with a broad perspective of what academics are."
Brophy was chosen from a national field of 70 candidates to replace outgoing President William J. Carroll, who announced in January that he would step down after leading Benedictine for the past 20 years.
Carroll was on a flight returning from visiting some of Benedictine's sites in Asia during the Tuesday morning news conference to announce the new president. But Brophy praised the environment Carroll has created, saying he is "wowed" and "inspired" by the school's dedication to serving students.
"I'm here because I believe the university is built to last," said Brophy, who will take the reins by mid-August. "I'll be happy to serve you very well for a decade for sure."
Brophy said he's pleased to return to the Midwest, where he has studied and worked, with his wife and three children. He has a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Wisconsin, and he previously worked as campus executive officer and dean of the University of Wisconsin's Baraboo campus. There, he gained a fondness for the Wisconsin Dells and the frozen custard chain Culver's.
He got a crowd of roughly 300 faculty and staff members laughing Tuesday with cracks about missing such Midwest treats and destinations. But Brophy said it wasn't the food or water parks that drew him back to the area; it was Benedictine's Catholic identity and traditions within Lisle and the broader community.
"I think he's going to be a great new inspiration for the university," Lisle Mayor Joe Broda said.
Benedictine expands beyond the Western suburbs, however, with campuses in Springfield and in Mesa, Arizona, as well as programs in China and Vietnam. Across all sites, enrollment is between 10,000 and 11,000.
James L. Melsa, chairman of the Benedictine board of trustees, said those who chose Brophy are confident he will "embrace the Benedictine values" after rising to the top of a well-qualified candidate pool.
"We put together a list of requirements for the president which came just short of walking on water," Melsa said. "It was an incredibly aggressive list."