Michael Brophy became the 11th president of Benedictine University last August and was officially installed in April. Brophy succeeds William J. Carroll, who led Benedictine for the past 20 years. Prior to Benedictine, Brophy served as president of Marymount California University in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and helped transform the Catholic university from a private two-year college to a multi-campus university with undergraduate and graduate degree programs. He has also served as dean of the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo and associate provost at Long Island University in New York. Brophy earned a B.A. in Music (Piano), an M.A. in English from The College of Saint Rose, an M.F.A. in Writing from Long Island University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A Fulbright recipient, he has taught and conducted research in Europe and Cuba. Brophy and his wife live in Naperville with their three children and two dogs.
Throughout your career you have worked at universities across the country and have taught internationally. What drew you to Benedictine University?
Three things drew me to the university. First, I am very committed to a career in Catholic education. I really appreciate all the good Catholic education can do and the impact Benedictine University has in the community. Second, my family loved the quality of life here in Naperville. We lived in a great area in California and wanted to make sure our kids had the same opportunities wherever we moved. Third, the scope of enterprise that Dr. Carroll and the Board of Trustees established here was very intriguing to me. Benedictine University was built to last.
During your first year as president, you developed a strategic plan to guide the university over the next five years. What are some challenges facing higher education and how is Benedictine positioned to meet those challenges?
I spent a lot of my first year helping the staff and faculty come together and revisit our distinctive Benedictine tradition. We recommitted to keeping the Catholic mission on all levels. We also focused on student enrollment, recruiting and retaining quality faculty, and providing technologically advanced resources and facilities. The decline in the number of college-age students across the upper Midwest is a challenge. So, as we look five to ten years down the road, we want to make sure we keep on top of trends and bring in the programs, modalities and locations students are looking for. It’s not an easy thing to predict. Right now students are looking for hybrid learning opportunities so we’ve made sure that we are offering a good dose of face-to-face and online classes.
In 2014 Benedictine University was named the fastest-growing private university in the country. What are some other interesting facts that the community may not know?
First, in 2017 we will be celebrating our 130th birthday. Some people may not be aware that in addition to our Lisle campus, we have campuses in Springfield, Arizona, China and Vietnam. People may also not be aware that over 20 percent of the students we serve are Muslim and that no one student ethnic group represents more 50 percent of the student population. We are a true representation of the Chicago area. Also, last year our men’s basketball team made it to the NCAA finals.
What are some of your personal interests?
I’ve been devoted to the arts for the majority of my life. I play the piano and really enjoy playing with students and faculty in service to the University.