Dr. Gene Scapanski, vice president for mission, to retire in June

Dr. Gene Scapanski, vice president for mission, to retire in June

Dr. Gene Scapanski, vice president for mission since 2003 and an administrator and professor at the University of St. Thomas and the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity for 33 years, will retire effective June 30.

Dr. Gene Scapanski

Scapanski decided earlier this year that he wanted to retire while his health was good so he could spend more time with his wife, Marilyn, who retired from St. Thomas six years ago, and their two daughters, sons-in-law and two grandsons.

"It has been a wonderful ride here at the university and the seminary," Scapanski said. "I have enjoyed every job that I have had here. Each position presented a different challenge and an opportunity for growth, and I have been blessed to work with such great colleagues. I look forward to what the next steps in our lives will bring."

Father Dennis Dease, president, praised Scapanski as a resourceful administrator and professor who excelled in every job he held during his career at the university and the seminary.

"Gene wore a lot of hats here, and he wore them well," Dease said. "He was always willing to take on new challenges, and he excelled in each of them. I will miss both the skills he brought to his positions and the great sensitivity he showed in carrying out his work."

Dease said a search will commence immediately to hire Scapanski's successor.

Scapanski, a native of St. Paul, attended Cretin High School, Nazareth Hall Seminary and the St. Paul Seminary, from which he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. He later received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas in Rome.

He was director of religious education at Catholic churches in McLean and Arlington, Va., from 1968 to 1973, when he became director of adult education and youth ministry for the Diocese of Richmond, Va. He also taught at Catholic University.

He returned to St. Paul in 1975 to become founder and first director of the St. Thomas Graduate Programs in Catechetics and Liturgy, later renamed Graduate Programs in Pastoral Studies. He served as dean of the programs and director of the Center for Religious Education at St. Thomas from 1983 to 1986, when he took a sabbatical to earn his doctorate in Rome.

Scapanski also taught at the St. Paul Seminary from 1977 to 1982, and was named dean of its Division of Pastoral Studies and an assistant professor of systematic and pastoral theology in 1986, at the time of its affiliation with St. Thomas. He was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and professor in 1998, and served as director of continuing education from 1995 to 1998, when he became dean of the School of Continuing Studies at St. Thomas.

Dease created a vice presidency for mission in 2003 and appointed Scapanski to the position. He has developed programs to enhance the university's Catholic identity and has overseen strategic planning efforts, diversity initiatives, community partnerships and Campus Ministry. Among his many recent assignments has been to chair committees that wrote a new mission statement for the university, established an annual Heritage Week on campus and oversaw the renovation of the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Scapanski has held many community and civic positions. He is board chair of The LINK, a Hennepin County nonprofit organization that provides supportive housing for homeless youth, staffing for the Juvenile Services Center at Minneapolis City Hall and counseling for at-risk youth and their families.

He was a delegate to the White House Conference on the Family in 1980, served on the Governor's Advisory Committee on the Family in Minnesota and was president of the Minnesota Association for Continuing Adult Education. The association earlier this year conferred its Harlan Copeland Award for Excellence in Adult Education Programming on Scapanski.