Around noon today, students received an email from the office of Interim President Bibiana Boerio announcing the death of President Emerita JoAnne Boyle.
“It is with great sadness that I write to inform you of the death of our beloved President Emerita JoAnne Boyle,” the email said. “Please keep the Boyle family and the Seton Hill community in your prayers.”
The esteemed former president of Seton Hill University started her educational experience as an English major at what was then Seton Hill College (SHC). After earning her masters degree from Harvard and her doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, she became a professor of English, then the head of the department. In 1987 she was named president of SHC, beginning a 25 year journey of growth with the school.
As president, in her own words, she focused on “what’s best for Seton Hill.” In her years as president, she spearheaded SHC’s move from a girl’s college to a coeducational university with revolutionary technology programs. The campus expanded under her reign with the building of two residence halls (Farrell and DeChantal), a new gym (McKenna) and the new Performing Arts Center in downtown Greensburg. The National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education was established in her first years, as well as the E-magnify women’s business center.
Her favorite memories, however, were student centered, according to an interview after her retirement announcement.
“It’s so hard to pick one favorite memory. In one day there might be a hundred precious moments. Most of them are associated with something a student has done that I’ve learned about or that they’ve come to tell me about. Those are some powerful memories,” said Boyle.
Seton Hill University (SHU) recently broke ground for a new science building named in her honor. The groundbreaking ceremony was live streamed to Boyle, who was unable to attend.
“I can think of no better way to crown a 25 year career as president, decades as an educator and years as a student than to name a building in her honor,” said her son John Boyle.
Boyle is survived by her husband, Art Boyle who she met while attending SHC as a student, her seven children and many grandchildren. Arrangements are incomplete; updates will be posted to the Setonian Online.