The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 14, 2013

St. Francis picks new president

LORETTO — St. Francis University in Loretto has named its new president-elect.

On Monday, the university’s board of trustees elected the Rev. Malachi Van Tassell to assume the office of president.

His term will begin after the Rev. Gabriel Zeis concludes his tenure at the end of the 2013-2014 academic year.

Van Tassell currently is an adjunct assistant professor of accounting at St. Francis, where he has taught for 11 years.

Larry Giannone, vice chairman of the board of trustees, said the university is excited to welcome Van Tessell as the next president.

“It was clear to us that Father Malachi’s familiarity with the university’s mission, vision and core values, as well as his background as an educator/

professor and administrator will serve our institution well,” he said. “The trustees look forward to the future leadership of Father Malachi as the chief steward of the university’s mission and the continued success of St. Francis University as an outstanding institution.”

An official announcement of Van Tassell’s election will be made Jan. 6.

Van Tassell professed vows as a Franciscan in 1999 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2004 at the Immaculate Conception Chapel at St. Francis University.

He has a Ph.D. in higher education leadership from Capella University, a master’s degree in taxation from Arizona State University and an undergraduate degree in accounting and Spanish from Franciscan University.

His doctoral dissertation was on the subject of servant leadership, and he has had two book reviews appear in the Journal of the American Taxation Association.

As a certified public accountant in Arizona, Van Tassell worked for Coopers & Lybrand in Phoenix, and Arthur Andersen in Albuquerque, N.M., as a tax accountant prior to becoming a Franciscan.

Van Tassell has served on various academic committees at

St. Francis through the years, including service as the NCAA faculty athletics representative and co-chairman of the university’s Day of Reflection committee.

He serves as the provincial econome (treasurer) and vicar provincial of the Franciscan Friars, Sacred Heart Province. He also is trustee of Franciscan University of Steubenville and vice president of the Foundation Maria Enthroned, Franciscan University’s Austrian campus.

In addition, Van Tassell served as deputy fire chief and chaplain of the Loretto Volunteer Fire Company for more than 10 years.

He is the son of Fred and Barbara Van Tassell and a native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Kelly Urban is a reporter with The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

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