St. Bonaventure, Hilbert hire executive director to oversee possible alliance between the schools

TeresaORourkeSt. Bonaventure University and Hilbert College announced today the appointment of Teresa O’Rourke as the executive director of the strategic alliance study being conducted by the two Franciscan schools. She will begin work Aug. 25.

The two schools began a relationship more than 20 years ago when St. Bonaventure opened a graduate studies center on the Hilbert campus, located 60 miles north of St. Bonaventure in Hamburg. In October 2013, the two institutions approved a feasibility study to determine if they should expand their unique collaboration in academic programs, facilities and operational practices.

The boards, faculties, and staffs have since then discussed how to bring more collaboration, a greater sense of entrepreneurship, and better, more affordable opportunities to students.

O’Rourke’s position, funded by a grant from the John R. Oishei Foundation, will provide focused administrative coordination to the two schools as they continue to explore a possible alliance.

“We’re grateful to have Teresa on board,” said Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., president of St. Bonaventure. “Her presence will enable the leaders of both institutions to provide adequate direction to both the primary duties they have for their own campus and the increasing work-load created by the alliance study.

“We remain responsible for the overall conduct of the process, but as important as this potential alliance is, it’s equally important that we’re able to maintain the day-to-day functionality of our own campuses.”

Dr. Cynthia Zane, president of Hilbert, stressed that the addition of O’Rourke does not mean the colleges have committed to fully integrate.

“Teresa is here to facilitate this process going forward,” Dr. Zane said. “What we have determined after in-depth discussions over the last 10 months is that this is an idea still very much worth exploring.

“But we’re not done listening,” she said. “One of Teresa’s primary goals, especially early on, will be to compile feedback from a variety of constituent groups at both campuses, including faculty and staff.”

“I am pleased to become a part of this exciting venture,” O’Rourke said. “I commend Hilbert and St. Bonaventure for envisioning an alliance that has the potential to strengthen both institutions and to serve as a possible model for partnerships and collaborations throughout higher education.”

For the past 12 years, O’Rourke served as an assistant dean and then senior assistant dean at the University of San Diego School of Law. In the latter position, she provided leadership to a range of operational areas and was responsible for all of the law school’s accreditation activities and institutional research.

Prior to her appointment in San Diego, she worked as a consultant providing strategic planning and fundraising support to non-profit and religious organizations. She also has served as the dean of student affairs and admissions at Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology at Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union and as the director of student services at UC Berkeley Law.

O’Rourke holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from Hamilton College and a master’s of divinity from Harvard University. She also has a certificate from the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

O’Rourke will maintain offices at both campuses.

About St. Bonaventure University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.

About Hilbert College: Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.