One-on-one with Bellarmine's new president

One-on-one with Bellarmine's new president
Bellarmine University President Dr. Susan Donovan

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A Robert Bellarmine book and a group of binders sit on Dr. Susan Donovan's desk next to a small sword that appears to double as a letter opener.

She's Bellarmine University's first new president since Dr. Joseph McGowan took over more than 25 years ago.

"The mission just aligned with my values," Donovan said.

More notably, she's the school's first female president.

"It's great that Bellarmine was open to that." Donovan said. "You see role models for students, and you want them to have men and women mentors."

Before Bellarmine, Donovan spent more than 30 years at Loyola-Maryland and has spent a lifetime in Jesuit education.

"What you see when you interview now is real and palpable and that's great," Donovan said.

In less than a month on the job, Donovan has spent her time reading up on the school and getting to know major players throughout the city.

"I look forward to the time when the campus is filled," she said. "Bellarmine has been particularly nimble to the needs of Louisville and really the needs of society."

Under McGowan, Bellarmine exploded in enrollment, budget and size, more than doubling its endowment and increasing from 19 buildings to 57.

"It's almost based on sort of making bold decisions toward growth and response," Donovan said. "That's a great place to be at."

Donovan doesn't plan to stop that growth, but manage it.

"You can't be everything for everyone," she said. "You have to focus."

The school is working on adding a handful of new programs in education, healthcare and other areas. They're currently being reviewed by the accrediting board. While Donovan didn't say she'd cut any current programs, she wants to be selective.

"I think we will certainly look at programs that have small enrollments," she said. "While our grad programs are flourishing, you always have to look at what are the programs that aren't."

Outside of programs, Donovan said she sees at least one change she's ready to adopt.

"One of the things I can tell from the beginning that I would like to work on is a greater sense of shared governance," she said. "That's something important."

She views Bellarmine University as a leader for both skill development and morals.

"We need to be an anchor of good here in this city," Donovan said.

It's a role and responsibility she's been waiting on.

"I feel as though I'm ready for this," Donovan said.

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