Gabriella DiPietro | News Editor
Duquesne University strives to properly prepare individuals for their future by teaching, guiding and influencing students at the college level. Now, a DU alumnus is hoping to do the same at a neighboring university.
Michael P. Mihalyo Jr. was selected by the Board of Trustees at Wheeling Jesuit University (WJU) in Wheeling, West Virginia, to serve as the 12th president of the institution, after interim President Debra Townsley stepped down from the position.
Working in higher education for more than two decades, Mihalyo previously served as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois. Prior to that, he served as president, chancellor and provost at Davis & Elkins College in Elkins, West Virginia; president of Appalachian College Association based in Kentucky and served as vice president of academic affairs and faculty member at Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.
Before beginning his career, Mihalyo obtained both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Duquesne University, where he studied piano at the Mary Pappert School of Music.
Mihalyo attributes much of his success to his alma mater, noting how much he values the experiences that small, private institutions are able to provide to students.
“It was Duquesne University that actually helped me understand that my work was just beyond what it was in the classroom,” said Mihalyo. “It was a well-rounded education with a general education curriculum, and there were a number of opportunities for us to serve others, which I always appreciated.”
During his time as a faculty member at Bethany College, Mihalyo wished to go into the administrative side of higher education but had little experience in that field. So, during one of his sabbaticals, he returned to Duquesne to assist the dean and other individuals in the music school with various projects and learn more about higher education administration.
As for his new position, Mihalyo hopes to aid Wheeling Jesuit University in continuing to serve students in Appalachia as well as those from across the country and beyond.
“Wheeling Jesuit is a tremendous institution based in Jesuit tradition. We have a commitment to helping students to develop in life, leadership and service,” said Mihalyo. “I believe those are all very strong Jesuit ideals that we would certainly like to promote to fully prepare [students] for very productive professional and personal lives in the future.”
Duquesne University President Ken Gormley praised Mihalyo for taking the university’s Spiritan values and commitment to excellence out into the world.
“As a respected leader in education, Dr. Mihalyo is an exemplary representative of the Duquesne community and our tradition of serving God by serving students so that they, in turn, can serve others,” said Gormley. “I wish Dr. Mihalyo continued success as he takes over the helm at Wheeling Jesuit University and continues a long-standing tradition of good works at that special faith-based institution.”
Mihalyo not only has personal connections to the region, being that he grew up in Mingo Junction, Ohio, but he has familial ties to the university as well. His sister, Kimberly Mihalyo Abdalah, and her husband, as well as his niece, all graduated from WJU.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to return home to use my skills and affiliations to enhance the learning environment and to lead the dynamic team that will bring to fruition many exciting initiatives at WJU,” Mihalyo said.