August 3, 2018 — Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, has announced that Dr. Michael P. Mihalyo, Jr., has been elected as the school's 12th president, effective August 15, 2018. Mihalyo replaces Dr. Debra Townsley, who recently stepped down after serving as interim president since February 2017.
Mihalyo has more than two decades of experience in higher education. He currently serves as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois. Prior to his time at Rockford, he served as president of the Kentucky-based Appalachian College Association. In addition, he served as president, chancellor and provost at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia, and as vice president for academic affairs and as a faculty member at Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.
Mihalyo’s Upper Ohio Valley roots are strong, as he originally hails from Mingo Junction, Ohio. An accomplished musician, Mihalyo enjoyed an active career in chamber and church music. Among the highlights of his music ministry career, he conducted a series of services and concerts in Italy — including in Vatican City, Rome and the surrounding area — with the St. Peter Festival Choir of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mihalyo holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from West Virginia University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Duquesne University, each in piano performance.
“I am honored to be invited to serve as president of Wheeling Jesuit University. It is well known the university has a strong tradition of academic excellence, leadership and service that permeates throughout the university in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition. Throughout my own career in higher education, I have worked primarily at or on behalf of private, faith-based institutions in the Appalachian region, all with similar focus. I am delighted to have the opportunity to return home to use my skills and affiliations to enhance the learning environment and to lead the dynamic team that will bring to fruition many exciting initiatives at WJU,” Mihalyo said.
Along with his own connections to the region, Mihalyo has strong familial ties to WJU. His sister, Kimberly Mihalyo Abdalah, is a member of the class of 1995 and was elected to the WJU Athletic Hall of fame in 2000. Her husband, Marvin Abdalah, MD, is a member of the class of 1994 and was elected to the WJU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. Both were members of the cross-country team during their time as undergraduates. Also, Mihalyo’s niece, Molly Metcalf, is a member of the class of 2017.
“Dr. Mihalyo’s connection to the region, his strong Catholic faith and his valuable experiences at other similar institutions that recently faced similar challenges to WJU allowed him to rise above the rest of the candidates reviewed by the Search Committee,” said Jesuit Father James R. Conroy, rector of the Jesuit Community at WJU and a member of the presidential search committee. [Sources: Wheeling Jesuit University, Maryland Province]