Dominican University New York Names Vice President for Mission and Ministry

New position created as University prepares to welcome first lay president

Sr. Jennifer Schaaf will fill the new position of VP for mission and ministry. (Photo courtesy of Nina Filippone at Saint Thomas More, Yale University.)

Dominican University New York today announced that Sr. Jennifer Schaaf, O.P., D.Min., will be filling the newly-created position of vice president for mission and ministry as of September 1, 2024.  Sr. Schaaf is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt and has been working for the past 11 years as assistant chaplain at Saint Thomas More, the Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University in New Haven, CT.

“After many years in campus ministry at Yale, and previously at Ohio Dominican University, I am excited to take on this role, which brings together my past experience of ministry, my research focus on charism formation in higher education, and my passion for the future of Dominican life,” said Sr. Schaaf. “I know that I am following in the footsteps of many beloved sisters who have served at Dominican University throughout the years and shaped it into the institution it is now – one that truly cares about the students and their success.”

A new professional field of mission integration has emerged in Catholic higher education in response to the growing number of universities founded by religious communities that now have lay leadership.  Earlier this month, Dominican University announced that Dr. Manuel Martínez from Mercy College of Ohio will become its first lay president as of July 15, 2024.  Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, O.P., Ph.D., retired as of January 1, 2024, after serving a total of 35 years as president, and Sr. Kathleen Sullivan, O.P. will be retiring at the end of the month, after serving more than 55 years in a number of positions including chancellor and president.

Sr. Mary Hughes, O.P., Ed.D., Interim President of Dominican University, said she was delighted to welcome Sr. Schaaf to Dominican University. “Sr. Jenn represents a new younger generation, and the future of the Dominican Sisters of Blauvelt.  Dominican University is prepared to carry on its proud tradition, while changing with the times to provide the best education for its students.“

Sr. Schaaf said, “In my new role as V.P. for mission and ministry, I will help Dominican University transition from the long-standing leadership of Sr. Mary Eileen and Sr. Kathleen into a new era through working with students, faculty, staff, and administrators to continue the four pillars of Dominican life – prayer, study, community, and service – and the specific charism of the Blauvelt Dominican’s care and compassion for marginalized communities and individuals.” 

Sr. Schaaf received a Doctor of Ministry from Seattle University. She also has a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Ministry from the University of Portland.  Prior to becoming a sister, Sr. Schaaf taught music at a Catholic elementary school and then was campus minister at Ohio Dominican University. As she was beginning to discern whether to enter religious life, Sr. Schaaf worked as director of communications for the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, NY, for four years.  She ultimately decided to join the order and was a canonical novice at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in Saint Louis, MO.  Since 2013, Sr. Schaaf has worked as assistant chaplain at Saint Thomas More Chapel at Yale University