Contact: Deanna Howes Spiro, Director of Communications, AJCU
(202) 862-9893, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), has announced that he will retire from his position in June 2020. He has served as president since April 2013.
Under Fr. Sheeran’s leadership, AJCU has guided the nation’s 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the inaugural Mission Priority Examen, a self-study and peer review process for reaffirming the schools’ Jesuit, Catholic priorities for mission. He has also played an integral role in the development of the International Association of Jesuit Universities (IAJU), for which he serves as one of two representatives from the North American region.
A key priority for Fr. Sheeran has been overseeing the formation of lay leaders at Jesuit colleges and universities. Over the past six years, the Jesuit Leadership Seminar and the Ignatian Colleagues Program have grown in size and scope, and have earned wide praise and respect for their impact on Jesuit campuses. This month, AJCU launched its newest program: a pilot forum for trustees at Jesuit colleges and universities to learn more about leading with purpose and mission.
During his time in Washington, Fr. Sheeran has been an outspoken advocate for undocumented and DACA students on Jesuit campuses. He has spoken at press conferences on Capitol Hill and mobilized the presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities to send letters to Congress, urging them to maintain the DACA program and support Dreamers.
Fr. Sheeran has also been active in the higher education community, representing AJCU on the Washington Higher Education Secretariat and serving on the accountability committee for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). He also serves on the boards of trustees of two members of AJCU: John Carroll University and Saint Louis University.
AJCU’s board chair, Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J. (president of Loyola University Maryland), thanked Fr. Sheeran for his leadership of the Association over the past six years. He said, “On behalf of the AJCU Board of Directors, we are grateful to have Fr. Sheeran as our colleague, leader and friend. He has challenged our schools to become collaborators in mission, and has been dedicated to helping them foster administrators, faculty and students to be people for and with others. He has inspired us all with his decades of experience in Jesuit higher education, and we wish him the very best in his retirement next year.”
Prior to his arrival in Washington, Fr. Sheeran served as president of Regis University in Denver from 1993 to 2012. He previously served there as academic vice president from 1982 to 1993. A political scientist by training, Fr. Sheeran holds a doctorate in politics from Princeton University and five degrees from Saint Louis University. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Denver, the University of San Francisco and Loyola University Chicago. His contributions to Catholic higher education were recognized in 2017, when he received the Hesburgh Award from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU).
In reflecting on his six years leading AJCU, Fr. Sheeran said, “What a privilege it’s been to serve our Jesuit colleges and universities as they have honed their programs to prepare competent alumni who find life’s meaning serving God in their neighbor! How grateful I am for this opportunity.”
A successor to Fr. Sheeran will be named in 2020.
Fr. Sheeran signed the charter at the founding of the International Association of Jesuit Universities with Jesuit Superior General, Rev. Arturo Sosa, S.J., in July 2018 (photo by IAJU)
Fr. Sheeran received the Hesburgh Award from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in 2017 (pictured here with former ACCU president, Dr. Michael Galligan-Stierle, and Msgr. Franklyn Casale, former president of St. Thomas University in Miami)
Members of the 2017 Jesuit Leadership Seminar faculty (L-R): Dr. Jeanne Lord, Fr. Sheeran, Rev. John O’Malley, S.J., Randy Hopkins, Rev. Timothy O’Brien, S.J., Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J. & Kevin Sullivan (photo by Glenn Kaupert)
Fr. Sheeran addressed graduates during the 2019 commencement ceremony at Loyola University Chicago (photo by Lukas Keapproth)
Fr. Sheeran with Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA) and the late Cyndy Littlefield at the 2017 AJCU Congressional Breakfast on Capitol Hill
Fr. Sheeran addressed participants at the inaugural AJCU Trustee Forum in October 2019
Fr. Sheeran with David Warren, former president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
Fr. Sheeran and former executive assistant, Patrick Nolan, with Rev. Adolfo Nicolas, S.J., former Jesuit Superior General, in 2013
The “AJCU Family” in 2019 (L-R): Fr. Sheeran, Dr. Jeanne Lord, Deanna Howes Spiro, Davis Feickert, Scott Fleming, Jenny Smulson, Shelby Lauter and Brenda Hebert