Franciscan names president

STEUBENVILLE – The Franciscan University of Steubenville Board of Trustees Friday chose the Rev. Sean O. Sheridan, TOR, to serve as the school’s sixth president.

Sheridan will succeed the Rev. Terence Henry, TOR, who has been president of the university since 2000.

“Father Sean brings an excellent blend of academic, pastoral, legal, and business experience to Franciscan University. He has also demonstrated a strong care and concern for the good of the University’s educational and spiritual mission. Together, these qualifications will uniquely equip him to lead Franciscan University according to the ‘heart of the Church,'” said the Rev. Nicholas Polichnowski, T.O.R., chairman of the board of trustees and minister provincial of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Province of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance.

“I am honored to serve as the next president of Franciscan University. It is inspiring and truly humbling for me to be here at Franciscan University with the students who are pouring their hearts into their education and their prayer life, falling in love with God and the Church, and striving to become saints,” said Sheridan.

“The university has grown in every area under Father Terence’s leadership and increased its reputation for excellent academics and faithful Catholicism. I will build on that strong foundation, always with a view to serving the Church and the new evangelization. I look forward to working with Father Terence, the Board of Trustees, and the entire faculty and staff as we continue to seek God’s will in advancing Franciscan University’s educational and spiritual mission,” Sheridan said.

Henry, credited with strengthening the University mission through a new core curriculum, his public stand for religious freedom, entry into NCAA Division III athletics, and a $31 million capital campaign, will remain at Franciscan University to help the new president with his transition.

“I have the utmost respect for Father Sean, and I have deeply valued his opinion, especially on Church issues, over the years,” Father Henry said. “I’m happy to be leaving the university to his leadership, and I am certain he will continue to raise the bar of excellence. I will be glad to introduce him to friends and alumni, and to help him with the transition into his new position.”

Sheridan will assume the duties of president June 1, the start of the new fiscal year for Franciscan University. His formal installation as the president will occur during the inauguration ceremony on Oct. 10.

The university announced in January Henry would be stepping down as president of the school.

He arrived in the fall of 2000 “a little nervous” about replacing the Rev. Michael Scanlan as president.

“I was walking in large foot steps when I arrived. Father Mike was known nationally and internationally but very few people knew who I was. That’s why I asked Father Mike to remain as the university chancellor. It was very important to me for the school to remain faithful to the teachings of the Church. I look back at my time here with gratitude. It has been a privilege to have been entrusted with the mission of guiding the university,” said Henry in a January interview.

“When I came here in 2000 to start the transition from Father Mike Scanlan there may have been some people who wondered if Franciscan university would change. But we kept the mission of the church. It was why the Franciscan friars were originally invited here by Bishop (John King) Mussio to start a Catholic university. I am honored to have served as the fifth president of the university and to see the blessings I have received here,” declared Henry.

One of the first issues Henry embraced as president was the creation of a commuter grant program for local students.

He also oversaw the university’s re-entry into intercollegiate sports in 2007 as the Barons joined the NCAA Division III and gained entry into the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.

During the past 13 years the physical campus has more than doubled in size with the purchase of adjacent property bringing the total acreage to 242, ensuring space for further growth.

Henry’s personal passion as a priest has been confronting what he calls, “the culture of death.”

The university joined other Catholic schools and institutions last year in a legal challenge to the Obama Administration’s Healthcare mandate

Every year he leads hundreds of students, faculty, and staff at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Sheridan served as assistant professor in the School of Canon Law at The Catholic University of America from 2009 until he joined Franciscan University’s Theology Department as a professor in fall 2012, teaching graduate and undergraduate courses.

His pastoral experience includes Franciscan University summer conferences, parish ministerial duties, RCIA, pastoral care at hospitals, campus ministry, and residence hall chaplaincy. He also serves within the Sacred Heart Province in many other capacities.

Before he entered the Franciscan Third Order Regular, he graduated in 1985 with a bachelor of science in pharmacy from the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, working as a pharmacy training manager from 1984 to 1990.

In 1990, he earned his law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and spent the next 10 years as a practicing attorney in Sacramento and Pittsburgh, focusing on healthcare litigation, primarily with the representation of hospitals and physicians.

The Cresson, Pennsylvania, native entered the Franciscan Third Order Regular in 2000 and made his solemn profession of vows in 2005. He was ordained to the priesthood in December 2006.