By John Sharp
Avila University President Ronald Slepitza, PhD, is retiring on July 31, 2022, after 16 years at Avila, and the university’s board is moving forward to form a search committee to select the school’s 15th president.
Slepitza said in an interview regarding his tenure as university president that he is proudest of the way Avila serves its students, particularly those who otherwise might not have gone to college.
He noted that about 45% of the school’s students are eligible for federal Pell grants to help pay for their education, and about 33% are among the first generation from their immediate families to attend college.
Slepitza said he also is proud that the school has developed numerous program to serve adult learners, both at the graduate and undergraduate level, and that such programs are likely to continue to grow.
Knowledge is expanding so rapidly, he said, that people have to become lifelong learners or they will quickly fall behind.
Slepitza said he also is very pleased with the renovations to the campus and the attitude of staff that make Avila a welcoming place for neighborhood residents and organizations, as well as for students.
“We want to be a neighborhood asset and an open and engaging community,” he said.
During his tenure as president, Slepitza led fund raising campaigns that raised over $55 million, including $30 million for campus enhancements.
Avila also is expected to set new enrollment records for freshmen and total new students this fall semester, even though the number of international students has declined in recent years as it has for most American colleges and universities.
Slepitza, who said he intends to stay engaged with Avila, has served as chair of the boards of Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri and the Association of the Sisters of St. Joseph Colleges and Universities. He currently is on the boards of Kansas City University and the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and is an ambassador for KC Scholars.
“I consider it the greatest blessing in my life to have played a role in Avila’s history and look forward to Avila’s bright future moving forward,” he said.
“Avila’s Board of Trustees extends our heartfelt gratitude for President Slepitza’s commitment and years of service to Avila University,” said Lisa Sackuvich, board chair.