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Hurley to retire at end of 2021-22 school year

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

Canisius College President John Hurley announced last July that he will retire at the end of the 2021-22 academic year after 12 years in his position and 25 years at the school.

A representative search committee with members of the Board of Trustees will be formed in the coming weeks with the assistance of an outside, national search consultant. The search committee will be headed by Dr. Frank Lazarus, a 1966 graduate of Canisius and a member of the board. Lazarus also served as the president of the University of Dallas from 2004-09.

“I am confident that Canisius will identify a new president with a fresh perspective, vision and strategies to secure an even brighter future for the college,” Hurley wrote in a July letter to the student body, faculty and staff.

According to a letter to the student body, Hurley believed he would only be the school’s president for 10 years after he was hired in 2010 as the 24th president in school history. However, in 2019, the Board of Trustees asked him to stay on and he agreed to a contract extension. When the coronavirus pandemic began, Hurley and the Board agreed that he needed to stay on throughout the pandemic. Now that the school is getting back to normal, he is ready to step away. He also cited his age as a factor in the decision.

“The decision to step away, even after 25 years, has not been an easy one. My time at Canisius has been the highlight of my life. We all know the high regard in which Canisius is held in this community and by our alumni across the country,” Hurley said in the same July letter. As president, I have been privileged to hear directly from so many people about the important role Canisius has played in their lives and the lives of their family members.”

However, the last few years of Hurley’s tenure have not been as positive, as the school has come under fire multiple times. He received a vote of no confidence in July 2020 from the faculty senate after the layoffs of over 70 faculty and staff. President Hurley, along with Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Sara Morris, received another vote of no confidence last February. The school itself was named in a civil rights lawsuit last April, accused of allowing sexual harassment and discrimination on the men’s and women’s cross-country teams. The school denied those allegations as well as accusations that it did not respond swiftly or efficiently enough to the claims. Over the summer, the school was placed under sanction by the National AAUP organization.

In addition, in 2015, the school was under federal investigation for how it handles sexual harassment and violence complaints, one of 94 schools in the country that were part of the federal probe.

In a 2015 statement, the school said that the investigation arose “out of a single incident that occurred out of the country regarding two students that has already been fully investigated and adjudicated through the college’s disciplinary process.”

Hurley, 65, will remain in his position until June 30, 2022. A successor has not yet been named.

Hurley was not made available for an interview for this story per a school communications director.

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