WHEELING, W.Va., Jan. 5, 2017 -- Reverend James J. Fleming, S.J., Ph.D. has resigned as president of Wheeling Jesuit University. Fr. Fleming submitted his resignation this week to the WJU Board of Trustees. His resignation is effective January 3.
The chairman of the university's Board of Trustees, Reverend Monsignor Kevin M. Quirk, J.C.D., J.V., accepted Fleming's resignation on behalf of the board and the University community.
"We are extremely grateful for the leadership and enthusiasm that Fr. Fleming brought to Wheeling Jesuit. He has developed many wonderful relationships with alumni and members of the local community, while seeking to secure a stronger future for Wheeling Jesuit. His intensive work over the last year culminated in the recently signed Declaration of Shared Purpose among the Diocese, the Jesuits, and the University which marks a new phase in the life of the University and a new model in Catholic higher education. The Declaration and the partnership it symbolizes, particularly the Diocese's substantial financial investment, will allow Wheeling Jesuit's light to shine for many years," Quirk said.
The Diocese is providing financial support to the University so it may continue operations and meet its financial obligations, which it could not achieve independently in its current or previous fiscal year. Additional financial assistance will be carefully considered by the Diocese. The document also provides for an operational structure that balances the financial investment of the Diocese, preserves and promotes Jesuit identity, and creates opportunities to grow new academic programs at the university.
"It has been an honor for me to serve the university, the Jesuit community here and the people of the greater Wheeling area," Fleming said. "I believe the hard work and sacrifice of our trustees, faculty, staff, alumni and--particularly Bishop Bransfield and the Diocese--have brought the institution to a point where a change in leadership seems natural and wise. My ministry here in West Virginia has been the most engaging in my 34 years as a Jesuit educator and made me a better priest. For that, I am deeply grateful."
Most Reverend Michael J. Bransfield, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, thanked Fr. Fleming for his service at Wheeling Jesuit. "Fr. Jim Fleming has been an important part of the Catholic community in this Diocese and region since he arrived in 2010," Bransfield said. "His commitment to the University and the broader community will always be remembered."
Fleming has served as an administrator at WJU for seven years -- the first three as vice president and as president since 2013.
The University has appointed Mr. Michael Ferguson as Executive Vice President for Operations & Finance, and he will join the WJU community on January 9, 2017. The search for an interim president has been launched with an appointment to be made on or before January 15, 2017.