Quadrangle Flashback: Brother Thomas Scanlan

The following profile on Brother Thomas Scanlan, F.S.C., was initially published in The Quadrangle’s 63rd volume of the print edition during the fall of 1987. Br. Thomas passed away Sunday, Feb. 4 at the age of 72. The piece was published under the editorship of Patrice Athanasidy, a current MC adjunct professor of journalism. It has been lightly edited.


Brother Thomas J. Scanlan has been described as a man of conviction as well as vision and these are the qualities he brings to the Presidency of Manhattan College.

On July 1, 1987, Brother succeeded Brother J. Stephen Sullivan as the 18th President of MC. Prior to obtaining this position, Brother served as Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Bethlehem University which would assist him in his new duties at MC. Brother said it gave him direct preparation in allowing for the opportunity to deal with faculty, students and staff which he will do on a daily basis at MC. Indirectly, it allowed him to develop an appreciation for an international curriculum and see the importance of bringing an international curriculum to Manhattan to allow the students to think like “a citizen of the world.”

Brother also sees his coming years at Manhattan as a learning experience. He will no longer have to deal with as many political factors as in Bethlehem, but with new factors such as learning New York State funding policies.

From 1975 to 1977, Brother was an instructor in organizational behavior for the School of Business. He contrasted the campus of the past to the campus of the ’80s by saying that interaction is still the heart of the College. He feels Manhattan has a faculty of great quality and one which takes interest in students and the college’s programs. Complimenting the quality of the faculty is the student body composed of young men and women with spirit who love Manhattan and love being a part of it. He feels the students are interested in their education and put in the time and effort to make the most of it.

What about the liabilities? Brother feels the College continues to be faced with financial challenges, lack of dormitory space, lack of parking space, and differed maintenance to many college facilities.

Brother feels Manhattan is suffering a challenge to the viability of enrollment if more dormitory space is not found since a larger percentage of incoming students want to reside on campus. He feels the college must reexamine whether or not more space can be obtained from the present dormitory space, construct new dormitories, and further investigate the area of off-campus housing, especially for juniors and seniors. Brother also emphasized that the College is in no way less committed to serving the commuter student population. He sees parking as another problem hurting the student enrollment and sees its solution as an intermediate range goal.

Brother sees the athletic record of Manhattan as “unacceptable.” He has begun working closely with the Athletic Department to bring about a change. He sees the solution as making a commitment and then implementing that commitment on several different levels. Improvement will begin by focusing on the basketball and track teams, both men and women, who compete strongly in the MAAC. After progress in this area has been made focus will shift to improving the Division I sports and then, the club sports will be developed.

In the short time Brother Scanlan has been in office there have been several administration changes. He is fully aware of a need for fund raising and improvement in college public relations. He stressed the importance of communication to accomplish these goals. He has established a team of Vice Presidents who report directly to him to improve communication between him and the rest of the administration. He is open to his staff’s ability to contribute great ideas for the benefit of the College and he wishes to “free them through increasing communications through all levels of college.”

The primary short term goal of Brother Scanlan’s administration is to continue Manhattan’s record of academic excellence. Along with this, Brother wishes the college to attain financial soundness and increased enrollment. Enrollment will be bolstered by increased dormitory and parking space so these remain as short term goals.

Brother Scanlan did not name any specific long term goals. He wishes to have input by faculty, staff, students and parents as to what they should be and how they should be achieved. Though he has many ideas for the long term accomplishments for Manhattan, he emphasized that the only way they will finally be reached is if “the entire MC family embraces and achieves the goals together.”