NeCastro assumes presidential duties as President Victor departs

NeCastro will fulfill the duties of university president as the President
Search Committee continues their efforts to name a new president.

John Black

NeCastro will fulfill the duties of university president as the President Search Committee continues their efforts to name a new president.

Bella Lee, Staff writer

Last semester, President Michael T. Victor announced that he would be retiring from his post and stepping down as President of Mercyhurst University at the end of June 2021. Since this announcement, a search committee has been formed and is working with the Board of Trustees to find the future 13th President of Mercyhurst.

Without prior warning to the student body, President Victor left Mercyhurst earlier than anticipated and has passed the reigns to a Mercyhurst friend and alumnus, Joe NeCastro.

Although NeCastro is happy to assume responsibilities, a new president will still be needed for the fall. Thus, the search has only intensified for our new official president.

“It has been a fascinating process,” said Lucy Belleau, senior Spanish Education major and MSG president who is a part of the search committee. “Over break, students were invited to join in on open Zoom calls with the firm running the search and I thought that this was an amazing way for the student body to voice their opinions and give their feedback about what they believe the next president of our university should be like.”

The search committee includes a mix of members of the Board of Trustees as well as faculty from Mercyhurst. Joining Belleau on the search committee include familiar names such as James Snyder, associate professor of Philosophy and Jodi Staniunas-Hopper, associate professor of Graphic Design. Additional members of the search committee include John W. Saxon ‘89, Christina M. Marsh ‘88, Matthew W. Johnson ‘99 and Richard McCarty, president of the Mercyhurst Faculty Senate. The search committee and the Board of Trustees are both headed by Joseph NeCastro.

NeCastro, who serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees, has assumed day to day responsibilities associated with the President’s office until a new president is named. It is likely that he will be confirmed as the official interim president during the next meeting of the Board of Trustees.

An Erie native, NeCastro grew up in Little Italy and attended St. Paul’s and Cathedral Prep. He is an alumnus of Mercyhurst, having graduated in 1978 with a BA in Accounting before going on to earn his MBA with a concentration in Finance and Operations Management from Harvard Business School.

NeCastro has held a number of impressive positions including chief financial officer of Penton Media from 1998 to 2002, various roles with Reader’s Digest Association Inc. from 1993 to 1998 and the chief financial officer for RDUSA.

He later went on to serve as the chief financial officer of E. W. Scripps company where he led the spin-off to create Scripps Networks Interactive (SNI), an organization that owns popular channels including The Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel and DIY Network. After retiring from SNI, NeCastro was appointed to Mercyhurst’s board in 2011.

During this time he also served as the chair of the Board of Directors for the Erie Innovation District, a project to transform downtown Erie and recreate it as a hub for cyber security and data science job opportunities.

He was gifted a Distinguished Alumni award in 2016 and appointed as chair of the board two years later in 2018.

While fulfilling the president’s duties, NeCastro will spend one week working on campus and one week working from home in Cleveland. The process for selecting a new president can be long and arduous, but it will be rewarding at the end.

“The members of the search committee span a vast array of people within the Mercyhurst community,” said Belleau. “In addition to members of the Board of Trustees, we are lucky enough to have representatives from the faculty, staff, Sisters of Mercy and of course, the student body. The common thread between us all, as stated in the announcement of membership on the Presidential Search Committee, is ‘a passion and commitment to Mercyhurst.’”

Hopefully we will learn who the new president is by the end of this semester, but if you want to keep track of the process questions, be sure to email presidential search@ mercyhurst.edu or visit mercyhurst.edu/president.

While we will definitely miss President Victor, we can’t wait to see what the new president will have in store for us.