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College interim president reflects on term

| Saturday, May 30, 2020

After 36 years with Saint Mary’s, Interim President Nancy Nekvasil’s term came to an end Friday. 

Nekvasil stepped into the role of interim president following the abrupt resignation of former President Jan Cervelli in October 2018. Nekvasil previously held the roles of Provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs since 2017, before which she worked as part of the faculty in the biology department.

Highlights of Nekvasil’s tenure as interim president include the changing of the academic calendar to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, filling the year-long vacancy of a Belles Against Violence Office coordinator and signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Shandong Women’s University to pursue research collaborations and exchange programs. 

“The most rewarding part of this experience was just being able to work with individuals across the College — students, faculty, staff and the sisters — toward a common goal,” Nekvasil said. “I really love the holistic approach to what we do.”

From the moment she stepped into the position, Nekvasil said she felt like those in the campus community were all “linking arms and moving forward together.”

“It was this collaboration to operate on all of the best parts of the College that made my experience so rewarding,” she said.

Holding a leadership position such as the president of the College comes with great decision making responsibility. Nekvasil said her biggest challenge was making decisions she did not feel she knew enough about to make. 

“In those situations where I felt uncertain, I had to rely on other people who had been in leadership positions or whatever positions they were in, to trust their expertise and trust them to advise and make the appropriate decisions,” she said.

Nekvasil will officially be on sabbatical for the 2020-2021 academic year before officially retiring in May 2021. She is looking forward to using this time to declutter her home of 32 years and preparing to move to Tennessee to be closer to her son, daughter-in-law and four granddaughters, she said. 

Although this chapter of her life may be coming to an end, Nekvasil has been approached for other opportunities which would allow her to get back in the classroom and engage with students. 

When asked to summarize her term in one word Nekvasil described her time as “blessed.”

“I just want the community to know how deeply grateful I am for everyone’s openness and their trust in me,” Nekvasil said. “I know that couldn’t have been easy and yet they took the chance to trust me and that‘s true for students all the way through to the Board of Trustees. Being welcomed into this role and in this position gave me the confidence to know — even if someone wasn’t necessarily in agreement with the decision — that they were giving us and the leadership the benefit of the doubt that we were making the best decisions for the community.”

Katie Conboy will officially begin her term as the 14th College president Monday. 

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About Mia Marroquin

Mia Marroquin is a rising senior Communication Studies major at Saint Mary’s. Currently serving as Saint Mary’s News Editor, she hails from Holland, Michigan and is an 80’s movie fanatic. Follow Mia on Twitter @_miamarroquin

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