Annie Mattea

Mount Mary President Retiring At End of School Year

Christine Pharr oversaw the development of major capital projects, a new nursing program during one five year term.

By - Sep 16th, 2021 05:32 pm
Christine Pharr. Photo courtesy of Mount Mary University.

Christine Pharr. Photo courtesy of Mount Mary University.

Christine Pharr, president of Mount Mary University, announced Sept. 15 she will be retiring at the end of the current academic year on June 30, 2022.

“I am choosing to retire so I can be closer to family,” she said. “This is not a decision that I take lightly because of my deep love for Mount Mary and how much I have enjoyed serving as president.”

Pharr, Mount Mary’s twelfth president, began in 2017. She said now is the right time to make the transition as it will be the end of her five year contract. The university plans to have a successor in place by July 1, 2022.

Under Pharr, the university developed Trinity Woods, an intergenerational housing unit, which will provide housing for the sisters of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, assisted living units and housing for students that are single mothers. An early childhood education center is also planned for the complex, available to residents, staff and the community.

The complex, created in partnership with School Sisters of Notre Dame and Milwaukee Catholic Home, is worth $45 million.

Pharr led efforts to raise $2 million for Trinity Woods. She also established an $100,000 endowment for food resources and increased the President’s Emergency Fund to $100,000.

The complex is not the only change the university planned under Pharr. The school transformed a long-closed pool in the basement of one of its oldest buildings into a health sciences center for its new nursing program.

The 6,500-square-foot facility, opened last week, provides expanded facilities for its existing 1-2-1 partnership program and serves as an inter-professional collaboration lab for undergraduate and graduate students studying nursing, social work, counseling, occupational therapy, art therapy and dietetics.

“Over the past four years, we have instituted a multitude of new programs and initiatives, which led to a record number of new students for fall 2021. As we continue our work in the coming year and as Trinity Woods opens, I am confident that I will leave Mount Mary in an excellent position with a bright future,” Pharr said.

Additional on-campus projects have included a virtual reality lab, immersive classrooms and campus renovations. An interfaith space and Muslim prayer room were created to accommodate faith practices of all students.

Pharr helped develop the university’s strategic plan “Living, Learning and Working in a Thriving Community,” which identified visionary goals in five planning areas through 2025.

This year, the university established the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and named the university’s first vice president for DEI.

Recently, the 2022 U.S. News and World Report gave Mount Mary top honors among all regional universities in the Midwest for social mobility, which measures the success rate of graduating Pell students based on six-year graduation rates. Mount Mary has also moved up more than 20 spots to 51st in best-of rankings of regional universities under Pharr’s leadership. In 2020, Mount Mary also became one of only two Hispanic Serving Institutions in Wisconsin.

The university has begun the search process for a new president and will engage a search firm. The search firm and timeline will be announced in coming weeks.

“Mount Mary educates committed change-makers and barrier-breakers, and Dr. Pharr has truly been a champion of change and growth,” Trustee Chair Stephanie Russell said. “Mount Mary’s strategic plan, strong internal leadership and capable faculty and staff will continue to move Mount Mary purposefully and confidently into the future.”

Categories: Education, Health, People, Weekly

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