On Jan. 1, the new president of DeSales University, Fr. James Greenfield, assumed his position. Greenfield succeeded Fr. Bernard O’Connor as the fourth president of DeSales University. O’Connor held the position since 1999. Greenfield came to DeSales after serving as provincial for the Wilmington- Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales. He has been a member of the Province since 2008. During this time, Greenfield taught at Salesianum School and served as the campus minister at George Washington University. He also served on the Board of Trustees at George Washington University for about fifteen years.
Greenfield has become the first alumnus of DeSales to be elected as the university’s president. After graduating Fr. Judge High School, he began his freshman year at DeSales in 1979 when the university was still named Allentown College. As an undergraduate, Greenfield studied politics and later went on to study in the DeSales School of Theology, receiving degrees in both theology and psychology.
Greenfield has big plans for DeSales in the up and coming years. He has several listening sessions planned with students and faculty to get feedback on the current operations of the school and to learn how things can be done better in the future, the first of which occurred Jan. 22
During this session, students were able to suggest things that would make the school a more effective and enjoyable place. After the session, Greenfield posted a photo on his Instagram saying that his favorite suggestions were, “a milkshake machine and a day off when the Eagles win the Superbowl.” He expressed interest in providing equipment for the various sports teams on campus and joked about installing a pool. More listening sessions are planned for this the rest of the spring semester.
“It’s very informal, which is nice,” said Junior Myranda Zhou. “He has students introduce himself so you feel like he wants to get to know you as an individual. He is very friendly and casual, you can tell he cares and wants to take the students seriously. You can see his sincerity, he wants to make the school a better place and he is willing to listen to any suggestion students may have without judgement.”
Instagram is one of the ways Greenfield has kept his communication open with students, faculty, parents and alumni. His profile features photos and videos of his interactions with students and alumni. Greenfield is also active on Twitter, where he posts motivational encouragements for his followers and updates on overall campus matters.
Many students and faculty alike are very excited to see Father Greenfield in action this semester. So far, he has demonstrated a clear interest in the opinions of the students and a selfless desire to create the best possible environment for everyone on campus.
“He is open minded and accepting of student, faculty and staff opinions, even if they conflict with his own,” said Zhou. “I have never experienced a president like this before, he is very present for the school.”
Greenfield will be officially inaugurated as the fourth president of DeSales University on April 4. A morning mass will be held at the university prior to the inauguration.