Mount St. Mary's University, the second-oldest Catholic university in America, has turned to a Los Angeles private equity and strategic planning businessman to be its next president.
The university announced Monday that Simon Newman, 51, will succeed Thomas H. Powell, who has been president of the university for the past decade.
In choosing Newman, the university is attempting to attract a more geographically diverse student body, increase its relatively small endowment and become better known across the country, said John E. Coyne III, chairman of the board of trustees and a graduate of the university.
Newman, who grew up in England, said he hopes to "raise a lot of capital and start a lot of programs and start the university on a more aggressive growth trajectory."
Newman, who has 30 years' experience in business and finance, is the managing director of JP Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and CEO of Cornerstone Management Group, founded in 1997. He has started four businesses in his career and raised more than $3 billion in equity funding for ventures and bids he originated.
He was not looking for a job as a college president, he said, but his wife happened by chance to see the job posting online and convinced him that he should apply. He said his career gives him experience in fundraising, strategic planning and marketing, all skills needed for the job. In addition, he is "a devout Catholic," he said, who had volunteered for years and was looking for a way to use "those skills in a deeply impactful way in the world."
He applied on the last day applications were accepted in September and first visited the campus three weeks ago, he said.
A search committee had been looking for a new leader with fundraising, strategic planning and fiscal leadership skills. Newman was introduced at a Mass on the Emmitsburg campus on Monday.
Newman said he is interested in deepening the core liberal arts programs, expanding study abroad and building up science, technology, engineering and math courses, particularly in biochemistry. Eventually, he said, he would like to see the university have a doctorate program. In the next six months, he said, the university will develop a strategic plan for the future.
"We will be hitting the ground hard," he said.
Newman earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in natural sciences from Cambridge University. He earned his master's degree in business administration from Stanford University's School of Business.
Powell will finish the academic year as president of the university and then retire. Newman, his wife and two children will be moving from Los Angeles to the tiny town of Emmitsburg this summer. He said he grew up in a small community in Yorkshire, England, and is not worried about leaving a bigger, warmer city for Western Maryland.
Coyne said Powell will leave the 270-year-old university with an "incredible brand" that the board would like Newman to capitalize on. The endowment for a university of its age is "very small" at about $52 million, he said, and needs to grow.
"Simon is a gifted fundraiser, and we think that is one of the key opportunities he presents to us," Coyne said.