Steubenville, Ohio, Jan 7, 2017 / 10:56 am
Father Michael Scanlan, TOR, the former president and chancellor of Franciscan University of Steubenville, passed away on the morning of Jan. 7, after an extended illness, at age 85.
The university’s current president, Father Sean O. Sheridan, said in a statement that Fr. Scanlan was “rightfully credited with revitalizing the Catholic and Franciscan mission of the University.”
“During his tenure as president from 1974-2000, his ideas, guided by the Holy Spirit, turned things around at the struggling College of Steubenville and led to its prominence as Franciscan University of Steubenville,” he said.
“Father Mike wisely surrounded himself with friars and dedicated people who helped him to carry out the Franciscan University mission. He also spent time with the students, listened to their concerns, and prayed how he might help them. He emphasized the importance of academics, particularly theology – now, by far our largest major – and stressed the role of campus ministry and student life in the daily lives of the students.”
Born Vincent Michael Scanlan in 1931 in Cedarhurst, Long Island, New York, Fr. Scanlan would go on to graduate from Harvard Law School and serving as Staff Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force before entering the Franciscan Third Order Regular. He made his first profession of Franciscan vows in 1959 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1964.
After being named acting dean of the College of Steubenville, he eventually became president of the college in 1974, a role in which he served until 2000.
“Over the next 26 years, he transformed the College into Franciscan University of Steubenville and gained for it a worldwide reputation for both excellence in academics and its passionate Catholic faith environment,” the university said in a statement.
“His success helped spark a restoration of authentic Catholic education in the United States and beyond, with many colleges and universities renewing their Catholic identity and new schools imitating his emphasis on Catholic Church teaching.”
Fr. Scanlan is widely credited with creating the Catholic atmosphere present at the campus today, establishing faith households for students, and developing new academic programs, particularly emphasizing the theology program, which has become the largest undergraduate Theology Program at any U.S. Catholic university.
He also started the university’s study abroad program in Austria, established a pre-seminary program at the campus, and helped the university pay off its entire debt and double its enrollment.