Sister Carol Jean Vale to Retire as President of Chestnut Hill College After 3 Decades

Image via Chestnut Hill College.

Chestnut Hill College and the Sisters of Saint Joseph have announced that Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., one of the nation’s longest serving and most accomplished college presidents, will retire after 30 years at the completion of her current five-year term in June 2022.

Carol Jean Vale began her lifelong connection with Chestnut Hill College as an undergraduate, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1978.

She took her vows as a Sister of Saint Joseph in 1974, and later studied as a Presidential Scholar at Fordham University, where she earned a Master’s in Theology and a Ph.D. in Historical Theology. She returned to her alma mater in 1988 as the Chair of the Religious Studies Department.

Throughout her presidency, Sister worked tirelessly to ensure CHC was an institution that embodied the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph to provide a holistic education marked by academic excellence, shared responsibility, service to the community, and personal, spiritual and professional growth.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to lead a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Joseph and to serve at this extraordinary institution of higher education,” Vale said in her formal letter of resignation. “Chestnut Hill College is characterized by an uncommon excellence, both rare and remarkable.”

Sister thanked the Board, alumni, students and her “exceptional faculty and staff” for their support during her tenure, she said: “Dramatic and lasting changes have occurred over the last three decades, and the College is better for them.”

Many CHC leaders have said the same. “Sister Carol has led Chestnut Hill College through many challenges – some beyond imagining!” said Sister Maureen Erdlen, Congregational President of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, which founded the College in 1924. “She has led with great passion and compassion and, most importantly, fidelity to our mission.

“Sister Carol has been a lioness for the College, and she is a great example of leadership for women,” said Catherine Lockyer Moulton,’92, Chair of the College’s Board of Directors.

“She leads with an open heart and a dedication to inclusion. She is brilliant and determined, and she makes you want to be a part of the journey with her. “We’ve seen great changes during her tenure,” Moulton said.

“There’s something very comforting about the fact that while so much has changed, at its heart—our core values and mission—it’s still the same Chestnut Hill College that my grandmother attended three generations ago. That’s a remarkable accomplishment” she explained.

Elected President in 1992, Vale tackled the College’s most pressing problem: ts shrinking enrollment. Her solution: going coed, which expanded the College’s base of students, stabilized its finances and spurred nearly two decades of growth.

“The decision to go co-ed was foundational,” Moulton said. “Quite literally, the survival of the College was at stake.”

“A significant part of Sister Carol’s legacy is the thousands of students who leave Chestnut Hill College with competence and confidence, knowing that their lives make a difference and that they can and will contribute to building a more just, compassionate world,” said Sister Erdlen.

Among the many honors Vale has received are the 2019 Faithful Servant Award for Distinguished Service to Catholic Education, from Maynooth College in Ireland; a 2016 designation as Executive of the Year from Philly Biz; the 2007 Chestnut Hill Award from the Chestnut Hill Community Association; and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from St. Michael’s College in Vermont.

The College’s Board of Directors intends to lead a national search for Vale’s successor, working in partnership with the leadership of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

Read more about President Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D here.

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