McGinnis Named University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs


Saint Francis University welcomes Dr. Michael McGinnis to Loretto this fall.

McGinnis accepted the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs near the end of the spring semester. He assumes this position following the retirement of Dr. Karan Powell earlier this summer.

A graduate of Elizabethtown College in southeastern Pennsylvania, McGinnis earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Tennessee.

He has served in a variety of positions in higher education, most recently as Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics at Norwich University, a senior military college in Northfield, Vermont.

McGinnis said that the biggest transition from working at a military college to a private Catholic institution is the absence of uniforms.

“I actually have to plan out what I am going to wear each day,” said McGinnis. “It’s very different from Norwich, where I knew each day I would be wearing an Army green uniform.”

Despite being on the job at Saint Francis for only a few months, McGinnis said he already feels right at home in Loretto.

“I was drawn to Saint Francis because of its mission,” said McGinnis. “I wasn’t looking for a job. I was looking for the next right move, where I could be happy and where my skill set could benefit a campus.

“I read the ad for Saint Francis. It spoke to me and I set it off to the side.

A week later, I came back to it and read it again. I knew then that Saint Francis was for me.”

McGinnis said he hopes that students feel the same connection he has experienced since his first day at the University.

“One of my early goals is what I call my listening tour,” he said. “What I’m trying to do is go around and listen and hear what is going on, and where we can make changes.

“One of the biggest focuses of this listening tour is retention.”

So often, McGinnis explained, schools look at why students leave college when he believes the emphasis should be placed on why students stay.

“I like to ask the question, ‘What made you come to Saint Francis and what makes you stay?’” he said.

“I think for many it’s because of how welcoming the campus is, especially the Franciscan values.

“It’s about being that student-centered campus that differentiates Saint Francis from other colleges and universities.”

One of the highlights of McGinnis’ time at SFU thus far was Alumni Weekend, which was held July 28-31 – near the end of his first month on campus.

“It was really exciting to see the alums from 40, 45 and 50 years get together and connect,” said McGinnis. “It was like they were back to their college days again.”

McGinnis’ believes that SFU is much more than a University.

It’s a family.

“I’ve hired quite a few faculty and staff since taking over,” said McGinnis. “And every time I do, I tell them ‘welcome to the Saint Francis family.’”