Quincy News

Conover named 23rd president of Quincy University

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 9, 2017 10:05 pm Updated: Sep. 9, 2017 11:02 pm

QUINCY -- Phil Conover has been named the 23rd president of Quincy University, agreeing to serve in the position through the 2018-19 academic year.

The QU Board of Trustees unanimously approved the hiring of Conover at a Saturday meeting.

Conover, 73, has played an integral role in the university's ongoing financial recovery plan that began in late 2016. He first accepted an invitation to serve as interim chief operations officer (COO) in December. He has been acting president since May 15 after the resignation of Robert Gervasi, who left QU for the same position at Ohio Dominican University.

The Rev. Tom Nairn, chairman of the QU Board of Trustees, felt Conover was a logical choice.

"Phil has been a tremendous asset for QU since agreeing to come on board as chief operations officer," said Nairn, who lives in St. Louis and serves as the senior director of the Catholic Health Association of the United States. "The steering committee of the board approached Phil with the idea of staying on for a longer term to provide stability and continuity for our students, faculty and staff."

Conover was appreciative of the confidence shown in him.

"I am very honored, and I am also humbled," he said. "From the beginning, I have said I only want to do what is best for the university. It is a valuable commodity to this region, which I think the recent economic impact study illustrated."

Conover was referring to a report from the Rural Economic Technical Assistance Center with the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs in Macomb that showed QU has a $53 million annual impact on a six-county region in Western Illinois.

Conover remaining in the president's position will also allow for continuity in the financial recovery process, which became critical to the university's future after a $5 million budget shortfall was revealed last year.

"We have several levels of things in motion that will keep moving the university along," Conover said. "Our work is not done. We're just getting started."

Since Conover's arrival in December, he has been one of the key figures working to restore the university to financial equilibrium. He has been instrumental in establishing new agreements with community colleges within the region, launching a new strategic plan and working to set up multiple new student recruitment initiatives.

Conover has also assisted the university's financial recovery fundraising campaign that has generated $4.2 million toward its five-year, $7 million goal.

The search process for the person who will follow Conover as university's 24th president will continue under the leadership of board member Mike McClain. Another board member, vice chairman Del Mitchell, is excited about Conover accepting the president's position through 2019.

"The university should be in a lot better position at that time, making it much easier to attract a candidate with the best possible credentials to follow Phil," Mitchell said.

"We are simply thrilled that Phil has agreed to remain as president. There is no question he has done a wonderful job working with faculty, students, staff, the board and the administration."

Mitchell said the respect Conover commands in the community has gone a long way in attracting input during the ongoing financial recovery. Mitchell said many key members of the community "have a lot of confidence" in Conover.

Conover's past duties have included being the interim president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation, vice president of instruction at John Wood Community College, teaching and coaching at several local high schools, dean of students and assistant principal at Quincy Notre Dame, and financial adviser at Blunt Ellis & Loewi and Wachovia Securities.

"We are blessed that Phil has agreed to serve in this role," Mitchell said. "His relationships with area businesses and civic leaders, along with those relationships he has formed with our faculty, staff and students, will serve us well as we continue to move QU forward."

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