By, Kyla Guilfoil, Asst. News Editor
Manhattan College alumnus William N. Dooley ‘75 has been appointed as the chair of Manhattan College’s Board of Trustees following a unanimous vote this year.
Dooley takes this position after serving as a Manhattan College Board Trustee from 2007-2020 and retiring in 2015 as executive vice president of investments and financial services at American International Group (AIG). His role will replace , Kenneth A. Rathgeber ‘70, who served as chair from 2012-2021.
“Bill Dooley is a terrific person to lead the Manhattan College Board of Trustees, especially in these evolving and demanding times,” Rathgeber said in a July press release on manhattan.edu. “Bill is a dynamic leader and highly respected among his peers. I’m looking forward to seeing great things under his leadership and doing what I can to help Bill and the rest of the board in the years to come.”
Brother Frank Byrne, FSC, who has recently been appointed to vice chair of the board following his long-time involvement with the trustees at MC, told the Quadrangle of the importance of Dooley’s personal skill set.
“The board wants to constantly bring in members with a different skill set, whether that be legal, finance, [etc.],” Byrne said. “Mr. Dooley is very good in the area of finance, and has been active in his membership on the board.”
According to President Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D, Dooley’s reputation on the board of trustees, as well as in his personal career, enabled him to win the nomination and appointment of chair by a unanimous vote during the July 2021 board meeting.
When asked if Dooley’s financial background was especially important during a time when the college has suffered notable financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President O’Donnell explained that while his expertise is certainly important during this time, Dooley was also nominated due to his strength in leadership and passion for Manhattan’s mission.
“As a whole, the members of the board of trustees oversee and guarantee the right functioning of the institution,” O’Donnell told The Quadrangle. “As the word ‘trustee’ suggests, they’re entrusted to certify that the institution is following its mission.”
According to Pete McHugh, director of media relations and strategic communications at MC, there are currently 31 members of the board of trustees. These trustees bring experience from a wide variety of skills, ranging from corporate leadership, finance, technology, law, education, engineering and public service.
“The board of trustees provides significant support and advocacy for the Catholic and Lasallian mission of Manhattan College,” McHugh told The Quadrangle. “The trustees help ensure that the College will be directed in accord with our mission: to embrace qualified men and women of all faiths, cultures, and traditions and guided by the spiritual, intellectual and educational ideals of the Christian Brothers, in the spirit of their founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle.”
Byrne shed light onto some of the recent focuses of the board, especially in relation to emerging from the difficulties of the pandemic. According to Byrne , the board is seeking new strategies to expand enrollment of both the undergraduate school and the graduate programs at Manhattan.
Byrne explained that MC was traditionally a commuter school, so a focus on campus spaces, such as Kelly Commons, has been in part to improve campus life and promote on-campus living.
The work of MC’s board mostly happens within committees that include trustees, administrators, faculty and student representatives, with the exception of the audit committee and the trusteeship committee, which are composed of only trustees. Besides these two committees, there are those for academic affairs, development, enrollment management, facilities, finance & investment, mission & strategic planning, and student life. All board members are required to serve on at least one committee.
“Chairs of these committees serve along with the board officers on the executive committee,” McHugh told The Quadrangle. “Each of these committees considers a variety of relevant topics in depth and presents its recommendations to the full board, on issues such as academics, campus life, capital development, annual budgets and more. Committee reports are scheduled at each board meeting.”
The full board of trustees meets three times a year, in October, December and June. The members also partake in an annual retreat each spring.
Dooley was not involved in the board from June 2020 to July 2021, as he took a year off to comply with the term limits that require no board member to serve over 15 consecutive years on the board.
However, Dooley has jumped back into his work completely since starting as chair in July 2021, and told the Quadrangle about his commitment to rekindling interpersonal connections at MC. Dooley explained that he prefers in-person meetings and interaction, and feels that strategy enables better relationships in the workplace.
Dooley shared that while at AIG, he was encouraged to connect personally with his clients, leading him to travel often and also to develop an appreciation for that kind of environment in his work.
“When things go well, you don’t really need those personal connections, but when things go sideways people are way more open, and able to communicate with you,” Dooley told The Quadrangle.
Dooley extended this sentiment, expressing that he is committed to supporting in-person learning at MC this academic year and on.
“There are so many experiences that go beyond sitting in the classroom and listening to a lecture,” Dooley said. “Manhattan has a leg up, because you’re in the city, in the cultural center of the world, and having those experiences are so important.”
Byrne also expressed sentiment for the community at MC and its importance.
“At the end of the day, we’re one group, all in this together, whether we are faculty, students, administration, we need to work on this together, we are one community,” Byrne said.
Both Byrne and Dooley hope to continue engagement with MC students and community members in their positions in the coming years, and commit to the oversight of the fulfillment of Manhattan College’s mission.