Mount St. Mary's University named an interim president Monday while the college searches for a new leader after controversy earlier this year.
Timothy Trainor, a retired brigadier general who was serving as dean of the Academic Board at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., will serve as interim president for two years while the college conducts a nationwide search for a new president. Simon Newman resigned as president in February after an uproar over comments he made and a plan to weed out some students.
Trainor, 55, said he planned to speak with students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders to learn more about the direction they wanted to see for the small Catholic school in Emmitsburg.
"I had some very positive conversations with faculty, staff and students and members of the board," Trainor said. "I heard a lot of good ideas, and I want to engage and learn … and figure out the full strategy for the next couple years after that."
Newman stoked controversy with a move to identify struggling freshmen and encourage them to leave the school. The goal was to boost Mount St. Mary's student retention rate and national ranking.
Educators from around the country also criticized him for firing two faculty members and demoting the provost for perceived criticism of his comments.
In January, the student newspaper quoted him saying of struggling students: "You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads."
Karl Einolf, dean of the Richard J. Bolte Sr. School of Business, was named acting president immediately after Newman's resignation.
Trainor will retire from his position at West Point on Friday, Mount spokesman Christian Kendzierski said. He starts at Mount St. Mary's on Aug. 15.
"Dr. Trainor brings to the Mount extensive experience in leadership and a deep understanding and appreciation of the Catholic liberal arts tradition," Mary Kane, chair of the university's board of trustees, said in a statement. "The hallmarks of his tenure at West Point — a commitment to the liberal arts, to the intellectual life of his students, and to the development of leaders of character — make him an ideal leader for the Mount."