By: Corbin McGuire, Editor-in-Chief
Dr. Doris Tegart is known for her colorful scarves, her signature cowboy boots and now as Bellarmine University’s interim president. The Bellarmine Board of Trustees appointed Tegart to the position on March 15 after a unanimous vote, following the death of Dr. Joseph McGowan on March 1.
Bellarmine Board of Trustees Chair Pat Mulloy’s written statement said: “All of us who know and work with Dr. Tegart are well aware that she is the natural choice and highly qualified for success in the role of interim president.”
Tegart works in the office that McGowan left behind, and when the search for a new president concludes in May 2017, she hopes the office is still hers.
With graduation approaching for Bellarmine seniors, Tegart will not just be filling the role of interim president in McGowan’s office, but also on stage to hand out diplomas to graduating seniors. For seniors that have had McGowan as their school president for nearly four years, this was an unexpected change, but the news appears to be well-received overall as many students are in full support of Tegart staying permanently.
“Dr. Tegart has been always been super important to our university, and I’m very thankful that she is our interim president. I really hope that they decide to make her position permanent, as I think it’s important while Bellarmine is in a season of change to promote internally,” senior Kayla Stephenson said. “And while it’s absolutely going to be strange that Dr. McGowan will not be handing me my diploma, I’m very comfortable with the idea of Dr. Tegart doing it.”
With 31 buildings added to the campus and a 50-percent increase in enrollment, Dr. McGowan made significant headway on his Vision 2020 plan.
Vision 2020 set a broad vision for new schools, new majors, new buildings and new ways to serve Louisville and Kentucky. “This vision, supported by a significant capital campaign, continues to transform Bellarmine’s campus and academic life,” according to bellarmine.edu.
The next president will have a substantial amount of work in order to continue this momentum, and Tegart said she believes she is qualified to complete the goals of Vision 2020.
“In almost 25 years at Bellarmine, she has served as a professor and then in numerous and varied administrative positions of increasing responsibility and impact across the University, including department chair, dean, associate provost, vice presidencies for enrollment management, for special projects and for academic affairs, provost and senior executive vice president,” said Mulloy.
“I have been in probably the largest internship in the world the 22 years I’ve been here,” Tegart said. “I’ve worked 20 years on and off, so it should be an easy transition for me.”
Tegart is also aware of the high standards McGowan set in his Vision 2020 plan, but acknowledges room for growth in quality at Bellarmine, not just quantity.
“This is all about Vision 2020. We’ve got four more years, and there is a lot more to do. I think it is a lot more about what goes on inside those buildings than building more,” Tegart said.
Tegart also said she decided to announce her interest in the presidency early. “If you are going to be a candidate, you cannot be a part of the search,” she said.
If chosen, Tegart would be Bellarmine’s first female president, as well as the first non-Catholic, although Tegart does not think this will affect her chances. She said 22 years at the university have left her feeling well-versed in issues of Catholicism, particularly the importance of human dignity.
“We need more heterogeneous grouping at Bellarmine. That is really an issue for me. The inclusiveness, definitely,” Tegart said.
Tegart is known for her humanitarian views and her willingness to both talk the talk and walk the walk.
“Her working nature has always been characterized by a rare and wonderful fusion of lean-forward determination and strategic focus, along with great humor. She fully respects process, but she knows that results matter. And that people matter,” Mulloy said.
Tegart is not only interested in the social justice teachings of Catholicism but appreciates Bellarmine’s Catholic heritage a whole.
“I think wisely they will be looking for someone that understands the Catholic identity of Bellarmine University. As the leader, I know this is a Catholic university. I’m proud this is a Catholic university.”
Tegart said she admires McGowan’s ability to lead the university, but is confident in her own abilities too.
“Everyone has a unique leadership style. Dr. McGowan was a marvelous leader in how he led,” she said.
While Tegart does not feel her gender will play a role in her leadership, some female students are excited to see a female leader heading a predominately female institution.
“It would be really good for Bellarmine to have its first female president,” senior Haley Adams said.
Tegart also acknowledges the joy she has working in her new position. “I love my job right now, I love coming to work. Life is good right now, it just really is. I am enjoying everything,” she said.
Some of Tegart’s favorite parts of the new role are attending events such as student art shows and meeting with campus visitors.
“There is a lot of ambassador-type work you do for Bellarmine University, and I love doing those things,” she said.
While Tegart feels lucky to have this position, for at least a short while, it is the students at Bellarmine who feel lucky to have her.
“While I haven’t personally had any interactions with Dr. Tegart, I’ve only heard very good things about her, and I’m glad that she’s currently at the helm of the ship,” senior Blake Reichenbach said.
With an aura of positivity and a drive to continue McGowan’s vision, as well as start her own, Tegart has one fear: being able to fit it all into one year.
“I have this job until 2017,” and I am trying to do so much. I am afraid I will not have time to do what I want to do,” Tegart said. “There are so many projects I want to do. I just hope I have time to do it.”