Eileen Petula joins administrative staff

Rachel Belson, Contributing Writer

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At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Sue Stuebner left Allegheny to take a position as president of Colby Sawyer College in New Hampshire. The position has since been filled by Eileen Petula.

The executive vice president is responsible for overseeing the chief financial officer, treasurer, vice president for college relations, director of human resources, director of athletics and recreation, Title IX coordinator, dean of students, vice president for development, Alumni Affairs and vice president for enrollment.

From the moment I first stepped foot on campus, it felt like a really good fit for me culture-wise.”

— Eileen Petula

President James Mullen said he chaired the national search committee, which had the assistance of the firm Brill Neumann to help find potential candidates for the position.

The search committee reviews resumes, letters of interests and background material, according to Provost and Dean of the College Ron Cole. Members of the committee contribute their opinions and observations of the candidates, and Mullen and the Board of Trustees make the final decision, Cole said.

Mullen selected the members for the committee, which included Allegheny Student Government President Tess Bracken, ’17, and ASG Chief of Staff Hayden Moyer, ’17.

When Brill Neumann reached out to Petula about the position, she provided her credentials and a letter of interest to Mullen. After reviewing the candidates, the search committee selected four semi-finalists to visit the campus and give a presentation in June. These semi-finalists met with faculty, staff, students and members of the Board of Trustees.

Ron Mumme, professor of biology, was also on the search committee. He said he believes that he was chosen to be on the search committee because he had served on the committee that hired Stuebner.

Mumme said the search for Stuebner was more extensive. This recent search was “expedited,” and Brill Neumann assumed a larger role than usual in the process.

“The search was a little out of the ordinary,” Mumme said.

Mumme said the search was put together in April, and they received a small, strong pool of candidates.

“We’re really delighted that we wound up hiring Eileen as we did. We did well, I think,” Mumme said.

The committee was informed of Stuebner’s departure on March 8. Typically a search of this kind would begin in September, said Mumme, and Mullen hires someone for the position by February or March. Petula’s hire was announced on Aug. 8.

“The search committee’s role is to advise and serve as a sounding board to [Mullen],” Mumme said. “I’m glad that I didn’t have to decide who it was.”

Petula said each candidate was required to give a campus presentation, which had to be taped. She said the presentations were related to what recommendations she would make for Allegheny moving forward.

“What we set out to do is find a person with strong financial experience, excellent ability in management and a deep understanding of liberal arts educations, as well as a very strong commitment to student experience, and I think in Eileen, we frankly hit a home run,” Mullen said. “She is very committed to the liberal arts.”

Petula is a certified public accountant, meaning that she has experience in finances.

“I just couldn’t be happier,” Mullen said. “We have a terrific new colleague who is going to make a tremendous difference for Allegheny College, already is making a difference.”

Petula has 27 years of progressive management experience, including work in public accounting, nonprofit, and higher education. Her undergraduate degree was earned at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

After earning her undergraduate degree, Petula attended Villanova University and earned an MBA. After graduation, she began working at KPMG, a company in Pittsburgh, as a public accountant. Later, she became a business manager of a small nonprofit, which she had to manage with limited resources.

After marrying her husband, Ron, Petula obtained a position at Lafayette College, where she eventually became associate controller. In 2005, she became the controller at Swarthmore College and later became the assistant vice president for finances as well. In 2014, she assumed the position of associate vice president for finance and treasurer at Swarthmore.

Petula said she feels most comfortable at small, private, liberal arts colleges, and would not feel at home at a large university.

“I value the skills with students—the close contact with faculty members, the exposure they get to experience at the undergraduate level, the writing skills, the presentation skills, the community feel,” Petula said.

Since arriving at Allegheny, Petula said she has been doing her best to learn as much about the institution as possible.

“I really want to learn this culture. From the moment I first stepped foot on campus, it felt like a really good fit for me culture-wise, how engaged everyone is, the academic rigor combined with the involvement of everyone and how deeply they care about Allegheny and its legacy,” Petula said.

Petula said she plans to assess the campus’ master plan and refresh it.

Shared governance, according to Petula, is one of the many things that attracted her to Allegheny. Petula and Cole have office hours, noon to 1 p.m. in the campus center lobby. The idea, she said, is to hold open conversations with any students who approach them.

Cole said he is happy to be working with Petula and to see what she brings to the table.

“I’m excited to have Eileen Petula join the Allegheny community,” Cole said.

Petula said she is eager to learn about the college and to help it move forward and prosper as it enters its third century.

“I’m really thrilled to be here and be part of continuing to build upon such a strong legacy,” Petula said.

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