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BC Trustee Returns To Nebraska Roots As New President Of Creighton

For Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, S.J., the long path to the presidency of Creighton University began not too far from the school’s campus in Omaha, Neb. Hendrickson, a member of the Board of Trustees at Boston College, first became interested in the Jesuit vocation as a high school student observing the monks at Mount Michael Benedictine High School, an all-boys boarding school a mere 30 miles from Creighton.

Hendrickson’s recent appointment as the 25th president of Creighton, a Jesuit university, will be formally recognized at a presidential installment ceremony this Thursday. From his formative years as a student to his foray into academia, Hendrickson brings to his new role a collection of experience in Jesuit higher education.

Hendrickson went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in theology and psychology at Marquette University, a fellow Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, Wis. It is in those first weeks as a freshman at Marquette that Hendrickson met someone who would later become a great source of mentorship and friendship for the duration of his professional life and religious vocation—University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J.

When Hendrickson enrolled at Marquette in 1989, Leahy was the chaplain in the residence hall in which Hendrickson lived as a freshman, and also served as a professor in the history department. Leahy went on to become the executive vice president of Marquette in 1991.

“Your president, Father Bill Leahy, was a great force of friendship and mentorship to many students at Marquette University,” Hendrickson said. “And a great inspiration, certainly, to me.”

Hendrickson counts his time as a student at Marquette, observing the impact that the Jesuits had on the lives of others, as formative for his religious vocation. He went on to enter the Society of Jesus shortly thereafter in 1994.

Hendrickson eventually found his way to Creighton as a young scholastic in the Jesuit Humanities Program for the 1996-97 academic year. He returned to Creighton during his time of regency, joining the university faculty as an adjunct professor in the philosophy department from 2000-03. Hendrickson was ordained a priest 2006 at St. John’s Church on Creighton’s campus.

In conjunction with his religious formation, Hendrickson has immersed himself in academia—earning master’s degrees from Fordham, Santa Clara and Columbia universities, as well as a doctorate from Columbia.

His relationship with Creighton—as a student, faculty member, and trustee—culminated in his nomination to University President, filling the role vacated by the retirement of outgoing President Rev. Timothy R. Lannon, S.J. Hendrickson left his position as associate provost of academic initiatives at Marquette to assume the presidency this summer.

His varied experiences as a Jesuit scholar—both domestically and abroad—have earned him positions on the boards of many Jesuit institutions of higher learning, including BC, Creighton, Marquette, Fordham, and Xavier University.

For the Nebraska native, his return home will include a new set of challenges and responsibilities different from any other administrative position he has previously held. Hendrickson noted that a focus on Jesuit, Catholic mission and identity—at the core of both Creighton and BC—is of utmost importance for his presidency.

“I think a leader brings, essentially, a vision for how we can be Catholic and how we can be Jesuit,” Hendrickson said. “Creighton is a very special place with nine different colleges, it’s a complex, comprehensive institution—in some ways, unlike any other Jesuit institution in the United States.”

Hendrickson counts his role as president as a two-fold endeavor: to foster the university’s vision—upholding and bringing forward the mission and identity of the institution—and to maintain relationships with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the greater community.

“It’s actually a privilege to be able to do that—to be the source of conversation about the university, about what we dream about, and about what we’re currently doing well,” he said.

Hendrickson noted that his experience as a trustee at BC will inform his new post at Creighton, citing the governance by both the BC administration and the Board of Trustees as a model of university leadership.

“Boston College has been highly instructive as a prestigious institution of Jesuit higher learning about the senses of mission and identity, good, solid academic programs, and a very strong, engaged, and generous board of trustees,” Hendrickson said. “For one—that’s inspiring, but it’s also a model and example of a good institution. I take that good mentoring, that instruction, and that modeling with me here to Creighton University.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J. 

October 1, 2015