Father Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B., Ph.D., a Benedictine monk and executive vice president, has been named the 18th president of Saint Vincent College, effective July 1, according to an announcement by J. Christopher Donahue, chairman of the College’s board of directors, and the Right Rev. Douglas R. Nowicki, O.S.B., archabbot and chancellor.
Father Taylor is currently serving as executive vice president of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held for seven years. Under his leadership in 2017, the College launched the Forward, Always Forward, $100 million campaign to strengthen the school’s endowment, provide additional scholarships for students and enhance academic programs. Additionally, the campaign will expand the library and technology information hub, provide advanced technology updates for Alfred Hall and the classrooms in the Robert S. Carey Student Center, and update the student life and humanities hub and dining services. Campaign funds already in hand provided for the James F. Will Engineering and Biomedical Sciences Hall. In his other service, he assisted in successful fundraising campaigns for the Sis and Herman Dupré Science Pavilion, the Fred M. Rogers Center, Headmasters Hall and a variety of scholarship endowment funds at Saint Vincent College.
“These are critical times for colleges and universities,” Father Taylor said at a news conference held at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. “We face ever-changing needs for our students and alumni. Making higher education affordable and preparing our graduates for successful careers and meaningful lives top the list.
“Since our founding, Saint Vincent College has been committed to assisting students who have financial need. This priority will continue to be at the forefront of our efforts, particularly through the Students First annual fund,” he continued. “Thanks to a strong faculty, deeply committed to guiding our students through the mind-expanding pathways of the classical liberal arts and sciences, Saint Vincent prepares students for jobs; but not just jobs, for careers; and not just careers, but leadership in their fields and meaningful lives rooted in strong moral and ethical guideposts so desperately needed in our divided and chaotic world.”
Father Taylor noted that Saint Vincent has recently been lauded by the New York Times for its high student retention and completion rates, and that Saint Vincent is collaborating with the Harvard Graduate School of Education on further study of the work and writings of Fred Rogers, housed at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at the College.
Board of Directors member Kimberly Colonna served as master of ceremonies, introducing speakers including Archabbot Nowicki, who described the selection process, which began in April when current president Brother Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B., announced his intention to step down and return to teaching mathematics.
“On behalf of the Saint Vincent College community, including students, faculty, administrators and staff, along with the Board of Directors and the Benedictine community, I extend gratitude to Brother Norman for his outstanding service as president for the past nine years and for his 42 years as an academic leader on campus,” Archabbot Douglas said.
He described the selection process, during which an Ad Hoc Committee on the Presidency identified the challenges and opportunities facing the College and outlined the qualifications needed in the next president. The report was shared with the College community along with an invitation for recommendations of potential candidates. The Executive Committee of the Board then reviewed the report and interviewed the preferred candidate, and the full Board approved the recommendation.
J. Christopher Donahue, chairman of the Board of Directors, first announced that the new president would lead an extension of the Forward, Always Forward comprehensive campaign, which has reached its initial, $100 million goal. An additional $10 million will be added to increase funding for students with need and to complete funding goals for new construction.
“Father Paul is the perfect pick for the presidency of Saint Vincent College,” Donahue said. “He brings a lifetime of devotion to the mission and embodies the spirit of the historic Benedictine love of learning, with its commitment to the liberal arts and sciences. He has played an instrumental role in providing educational opportunities for students from every socio-economic background.”
“I welcome the challenge and opportunity to build upon the work of Brother Norman and the faculty and administration of Saint Vincent to enable our students to make a difference in their profession and in our world,” Father Taylor said.
“It’s really about belonging. At Saint Vincent, when you walk with us, you belong. Our students say it best: ‘Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat.’ In this world of shattered relationships and fractured society, ‘belonging’ is a treasure. Our Benedictine and Catholic mission prioritizes the sacred nature of the person and the importance of the connectedness of that person to our community,” Father Taylor said.
“Once you have the foundation of belonging, there are no hurdles too high, and no obstacles too big, to keep you from success in this world, and eternal happiness in the next,” he concluded. “That’s the Saint Vincent difference: ‘You belong.’ Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat.”
Father Taylor earned a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from Saint Vincent College in 1987, a master of divinity degree from Saint Vincent Seminary in 1991, a master of arts degree in mathematics from Duke University in 1993 and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Boston College in 1998. His dissertation was entitled “Boniface Wimmer and the Beginning of American Benedictine Education.”
In addition to serving as executive vice president, his other administrative roles at Saint Vincent College include vice president of Institutional Advancement (2006-2009); associate vice president of Institutional Advancement (2003-2006), associate director (1996-97), director (1997-2001) and dean (2001-2003) of Admission and Financial Aid; and acting dean of students (1999-2000). In spring 2019 he served as a Keats Society Lecturer and visiting professor at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.
After an invitation to visit St. Benedict’s Preparatory School in Newark, New Jersey, from Father Edwin Leahy, O.S.B., in 1999, Father Taylor visited and began bringing Saint Vincent College students to the school for a week each January in 2000, a program which continues to the present day. He was named an honorary alumnus by the Saint Benedict’s Prep Alumni Association in 2010.
Father Taylor has been active in pastoral ministry, serving at Saint Thomas More Parish in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Saint Lawrence Parish in Brookline, Massachusetts; continues weekend ministry at Saint Louise de Marillac Parish in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has assisted in pastoral ministry with the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2003.
Father Taylor serves on the Board of Trustees of Fourt Ligonier (2016-present), the Board of Directors of the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation (2008-present), and as an adviser to the Board of Straub Brewery Inc. (2010-present). He has been a member of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (2002-present), and previously served on the boards of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau (2005-2008), Benedictine Military School, Savannah (2004-2007), and the Board of Incorporators of the Saint Vincent College Corporation (1996-2002).
He entered the Saint Vincent Benedictine Community on July 1, 1987, and made simple profession of monastic vows on July 10, 1988, and solemn profession of vows on July 11, 1991. He was ordained a priest June 6, 1992, at Saint Vincent Archabbey Basilica by the Most Rev. Anthony G. Bosco, Bishop of Greensburg. He attended Sacred Heart School, St. Marys, and is a 1983 graduate of Elk County Christian High School, St. Marys.
A native of St. Marys, Pennsylvania, Father Taylor is the son of Irene Taylor of St. Marys and the late Robert Taylor. He has two brothers, Lawrence and Robert.