HAMBURG - The executive committee of the Hilbert College board of trustees named Father Michael Sajda, OFM Conv., interim president. He is currently president of St. Francis High School and chair of Hilbert's board of trustees.
Cynthia Zane, Ed.D., president of Hilbert for 12 years, retired Aug. 31. Sajda, who started Sept. 1, will step down as board chair and serve as interim president until Dec. 31 when a new permanent president is named.
Sajda will also return to the role of board chair upon the appointment of Hilbert's next president. In the interim, Board Vice Chair Peg Adams will lead the board.
"The Hilbert board of trustees believes that Father Michael is the perfect leader to fill this interim position as Hilbert conducts a comprehensive search for its next president," said Adams. "Father Michael will provide continuity, as he is a well-regarded educator who the Hilbert and Buffalo Niagara communities know and respect.
"This ensures Hilbert's ability to continue its positive strides with enrollment, academics and community engagement. We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for Hilbert's next president to join Hilbert at an exciting time in the college's history, while having a smooth transition under Father Michael's guidance," she said.
Under Zane's leadership, Hilbert experienced growth and many significant accomplishments, including completion of a $3.5 million capital campaign, which led to the addition of two new science labs and the renovation of an academic building, Bogel Hall. She also oversaw construction of Hilbert's largest residence hall - the 155-bed Trinity Hall.
During Zane's tenure, enrollment grew to its highest level and the college's endowment has increased by 55 percent. Currently, first-time enrollment is at its highest level in four years, the student-athlete retention rate is 88 percent, and Hilbert's career placement rate is 95.6 percent.
The Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph appreciate Father Michael Sajda's commitment to Hilbert College's mission and his willingness to serve in the interim president role for the next few months. "Our Congregation has worked with Father Michael in various capacities in the past, and we look forward to working with him in his new role at Hilbert College," said Sister Ann Marie Hudzina, FSSJ, general minister of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph and a member of the college's board of trustees.
Hilbert's national search for the permanent replacement is being performed under the guidance of Dr. Katherine Haley of Haley Associates. The search committee is chaired by Jill Meyer, secretary of the Hilbert board.
"One of the core Franciscan values of the Hilbert community is service," Sajda said. "I am both honored and humbled to be appointed to serve as Hilbert's interim president, beginning for the fall semester. I look forward to having the opportunity to speak and work with Hilbert's students, faculty, staff, donors, alumni and community partners."