Dominican University New York Appoints Interim President

Sr. Mary Hughes, O.P., Ed.D.

The Dominican University New York Board of Trustees has appointed Sr. Mary Hughes, O.P., Ed.D., to serve as Interim President, replacing President Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D., who is retiring on January 1, 2024, after serving two terms as President for a total of 35 years. 

“Sr. Hughes has an impressive background with a wealth of experience in education and leadership positions,” said Steven Sabatini, Chair of the Dominican University Board of Trustees. “We are very fortunate that she has agreed to serve as Interim President during this time of transition to allow Sr. Mary Eileen to begin her much-deserved retirement while we continue our search for a permanent President.”

Sr. Hughes said, “I look forward to being on campus and meeting students, faculty, and staff who make up the heart of this special university community.  Sr. Mary Eileen has a record of remarkable accomplishments at Dominican University, and I am honored and humbled to be called upon to uphold her legacy of promoting educational excellence, while stressing the importance of service and respect for the individual.”

Sr. Hughes is a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic, Congregation of the Holy Cross, Amityville, NY. Her early ministerial activity was in elementary education, serving as a teacher, a catechist, an assistant principal, and then a principal.  After completing advanced studies, she ministered as a teacher educator both at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY, and then at Iona College, which is now Iona University, in New Rochelle, NY.  Sr. Hughes was Chair of the Education Department at Iona, and later was Special Executive Assistant to the President and Campus Dean.  In addition, she was a member of the Board of Trustees of Molloy College, which is now Molloy University, for 12 years, including five years as Board Vice Chair. For more than nine years, she has been an Adjunct Professor at the Fordham University Lincoln Center Campus, teaching a doctoral seminar on The Spirituality of Leadership for the Graduate School of Education, Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education.

From 2009 to 2012, Sr. Hughes served in the presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). She represented the majority of Roman Catholic Sisters in the United States at meetings of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and at the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life at the Vatican. She held that position during her second term as Prioress of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville.  She was Prioress from 1995-2001, and again from 2007-2013.  She then served on the staff of LCWR as their Director of Transitional Services.  Sr. Hughes now works as a consultant to religious communities as they seek to further their life and mission.  She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Molloy University, a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from Hunter College, and both a Master in Education and a Doctorate in Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. 

Sr. Hughes is expected to remain in the role of Interim President until a permanent replacement is named.  The Board of Trustees has formed a Pre-Planning Committee which has interviewed professional search firms, canvassed the University community for input, and formed a Presidential Search and Screening Committee which will conduct the first round of interviews of potential candidates. The Board is looking for a candidate who will continue to fulfill the University’s mission to promote educational excellence, leadership, and service in an environment characterized by respect for the individual and concern for the community and its needs. 

Sr. Mary Eileen announced her retirement on October 2, 2023, saying she felt the time was right after the institution attained university status and constructed the long-awaited turf field and track for student athletes.  The turf field was officially named the O’Brien Field on Saturday, September 30, 2023, in recognition of Sr. Mary Eileen’s years of visionary leadership and service.  She is the longest-serving President in Dominican University’s 71-year history and will continue to serve on the Dominican University Board of Trustees.  

Dominican University New York currently serves approximately 1,500 students offering undergraduate programs, master’s programs in teacher education, occupational therapy, nursing, business, and organizational leadership and communication, as well as doctoral programs in physical therapy and nursing.