John Neuhauser profile story

Neuhauser’s bid for St. Michael’s presidency

By Mark Gould

Published Jan. 24, 2007 in the former St. Michael’s College student publication, the Echo.

Jack Neuhauser at St. Michael's College

John Neuhauser addressed St. Michael's College on Wednesday, Jan. 17. (Mark Gould, the Echo)

During his all-time favorite run, John Neuhauser, then in his 40s, was completely alone. That morning, there were no cars on the road and no people in the streets. The thermometer read 17 degrees below zero, but that didn’t deter Neuhauser’s training as he began his 12-mile run, preparation for the Boston Marathon.

He heard only the sound made by his feet as they squeaked against the slippery snow that covered the ground. He ran carefully, realizing that should he slip and break anything, he would probably freeze to death before help could arrive.

It was from runs like these that Neuhauser cultivated his self-discipline; a trait he now hopes will propel him to become the new president of St. Michael’s College.

“It’s the ability to get up and do those sorts of things, whereas most mornings you’d rather stay in bed,” Neuhauser says, smiling.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, Neuhauser was the first of three presidential finalists to speak at St. Michael’s College, doing so on a frigid afternoon reminiscent of his favorite run.

Neuhauser is vice chairman of the St. Michael’s College board of trustees, and has served on the board since 2001. The board of trustees must now decide whether or not to choose him as St. Michael’s new president.

The issue of St. Michael’s level of Catholic affiliation has been debated after a series of remarks made last year by Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington. The argument that St. Michael’s is not Catholic enough has no validity, Neuhauser says.

“I think you should do things at a Catholic college that are outwardly Catholic and you shouldn’t hide that,” he says. “I don’t think your faculty or administration should be all Catholic. You should have enough faith in your faith to be quite broadly encompassing.”

Neuhauser also spoke against a recently released Vatican document warning politicians that supporting same-sex marriages is “gravely immoral.”

“The Vatican’s pronouncement about civil unions was unnecessarily cruel,” he says, adding that as a college, we cannot afford to be exclusive.

Junior religious studies major Mallory Wood says she was pleased with his stance on Catholicism.

“He seemed to be a very open-minded Catholic, which I think is an important issue for our college because we are Catholic but we are also liberal,” Wood says. “We need a president who can encompass both of those aspects.”

Junior Trixi Schmied, a member of the presidential search committee, says because of Neuhauser’s position on the board, he has been excluded from the meetings regarding the presidential search.

English instructor Will Marquess says he thinks it is important that Neuhauser served on the board of trustees.

“I like the fact that he has served on the board, and people I know like the work he has done on the board,” Marquess says. “He is familiar with the college in important ways, I think.”

Neuhauser has held several positions at Boston College, including dean of faculties, academic vice president, dean of the Carroll School of Management, founding chair of the computer science department, and professor. He currently teaches in the Carroll School of Management.

Richard Keeley is the current dean of the Carroll School of Management. This is the same department Neuhauser currently teaches in. Neuhauser is widely respected at Boston College, Keeley says.

“He is wonderfully kind man who has always been known across campus throughout all levels of the organization,” Keeley says. “He’ll know the names of every person who worked every shift on the janitorial crew…and those who tend to the grounds on the campus.”

Neuhauser holds a master’s and doctorate in operations research and statistics: mathematics, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Manhattan College.

Neuhauser says there are no major bold initiatives necessary at St. Michael’s College, but the new president must act cautiously, he says.

“One of the things you have to be careful about is making precipitous changes in an institution that is actually running reasonably well,” Neuhauser says.

When asked about increasing diversity on campus, Neuhauser says he has worked hard to accomplish this at Boston College, and will do so if he is named president at St. Michael’s College.

“You have to recognize and be willing to pay attention to market differentiations [for attracting students] and you will have to pay different market prices,” he says. “We would spend the extra money to make sure we can do that.”

When a student asked about class size during the open meeting, Neuhauser says he is open to trying out different sizes. He says he is interested in freeing faculty resources to do other things like teach small classes, and have more time for their own work.

“One of the ways you can do this is to increase the variability of class size throughout the institution,” Neuhauser says. “I’m willing to experiment with that to see if that works.”

The current average class size is 18 to 20 students, and Wood says she would be reluctant to see increases in average size.

“He seems to be saying he wants to flirt with the idea that larger class sizes are a good thing,” Wood says. “I think what St. Mike’s is doing with class sizes right now is really good, and I don’t think it should be changed.”

Neuhauser says while he is interested in St. Michael’s College, he still enjoys his current job. “I think I was dragged in kind of reluctantly,” Neuhauser says. “I like what I currently do. I made it pretty clear to the trustees that this is not necessarily my next career move.”

Neuhauser says he was drawn to St. Michael’s College because of his strong belief in small liberal arts colleges.

“I believe in this place, and if there is a role for me that I might help some way, I’m interested,” he says.