Reception to honor Sweitzer-Riley’s retirement, contributions

Beth Sweitzer-Riley

Manchester University will honor the contributions of Beth Sweitzer-Riley at a retirement reception 2-3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 12, in the Jo Young Switzer Center upper level.

“Her common sense and wise counsel have helped guide the University through more than a decade of institutional transformation,” said President Dave McFadden in the announcement to students, faculty and staff. “Her warmth and kindness have engendered the affection of the entire MU community, particularly her student development staff.”

As part of Manchester University restructuring, the position of vice president for student development is being eliminated, and Sweitzer-Riley will retire effective June 30.

“The team I worked with in the Student Development division was made up of incredible professionals with passion, commitment, dedication and vision,” Sweitzer-Riley said. “Their collaborative work and high energy created synergistic forces to foster student development and learning through the last decade.

“All will be bringing great skill sets to the new institutional structure designed to enhance student experiences and successes," she said.

 Sweitzer-Riley joined the MU leadership in 2004.

“Amid the business of higher education, Beth profoundly understood the nature of administration – that is, the art and craft of working with people,” said Dr. John Planer, MU music professor. “To motivate her staff to care compassionately for students, she in turn developed caring relationships with her staff – treating them with fairness, sensitivity, openness, humor, and sincere warmth.

“By so living, Beth manifested and transmitted the highest values of Manchester, and thereby inspired us,” he said. “Beth’s retirement is a profound loss to students, staff, and faculty.”

For nearly four decades, Sweitzer-Riley helped strengthen higher education at public and private institutions, and she has received honors for service and commitment to student learning and growth. 

The Silver Lake resident came to Manchester from Wilson College for women in Chambersburg, Penn., where she was vice president for student development and dean of students. For about 16 years before that, she held leadership roles in student support and development at The University of Findlay in Ohio.

Sweitzer-Riley also held key administrative student services posts at State University of New York at Binghamton and at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania.

She received a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, a master’s in counseling education from Millersville State University in Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in education from Elizabethtown College.

 “Beth serves those in need without any expectation of recognition.  She does not serve for the glory.  She serves quietly, humbly, effectively … almost invisibly,” said Jo Young Switzer, who retired last spring as president of Manchester University. She nominated Sweitzer-Riley for Elizabethtown’s Service Through Professional Achievement Award, the highest award bestowed upon an alumnus, which she will receive this fall at a special ceremony at that college.

“Her passion for life, her exceptional concern for the welfare of others, and her dedication to the pursuit of excellence make her a priceless friend and colleague,” said Martha W. Tack, professor emeritus at Eastern Michigan University. “As Dr. Sweitzer-Riley's former doctoral adviser and friend, I am confident that she will now take these admirable qualities into her next venture, either as a volunteer or private entrepreneur, because she has far too much energy to sit idly as a retiree."

May 7, 2015

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