Brother Thomas J. Scanlan, FSC, president emeritus of Manhattan College, passed away on Sunday, February 4, at the age of 72.
The 18th president of Manhattan College, serving from 1987 to 2009, Br. Thomas helped to navigate the College through a difficult financial period in the 1980s to become the institution it is today. During his 22-year tenure, the College’s enrollment increased by 120 percent and received accreditations by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the Teacher Education Accreditation Council (TEAC).
Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D., president of Manhattan College, said: “In the time that I have come to know Br. Thomas, I developed a deep appreciation for his visionary side ... Brother’s decisions were grounded firmly in a deep faith and in the Lasallian mission. He made bold and courageous decisions grounded in that faith.”
Under Br. Thomas’ leadership, the College transformed into a largely residential campus while still preserving its commitment to serving first-generation students. The College also saw several enhancements and expansions under Br. Thomas, including the opening of Horan Hall, Lee Hall and the Mary Alice and Thomas O’Malley Library.
Br. Thomas came to Manhattan College from Bethlehem University in Palestine, where he served as vice chancellor and chief executive officer. Prior to that, he was director of finance and education for the New York Province of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Br. Thomas also served as a teacher, vice principal, and principal at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington, N.J.
Born in New York City, Br. Thomas received his B.A. in physics from The Catholic University of America, his M.A. in mathematics from New York University, and his Ph.D. in business administration from Columbia University.
Br. Thomas received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal in 1986. He was a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He also received the Good Scout Award from the Greater New York Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1995. In 1997, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent. He also received a Community Leadership Award from the New York City Community Board 8 in 1998 and an Interfaith Brotherhood Award from the Riverdale Jewish Community Council in 2003. In addition, Br. Thomas was a member of the Fellows of the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
In 2016, Br. Thomas was awarded the Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Award, named in honor of the influential former Notre Dame president, and typically given to a former college president who has made outstanding contributions to Catholic higher education through service and academic work.
“Being a Catholic college president is one of the most complex and challenging roles in our nation. To succeed takes a true team effort, and my most critical ability was to say ‘I need your help.’ And I was gratified, both at Bethlehem University and at Manhattan College, by the extremely positive response of so many talented individuals,” Br. Thomas said upon receiving the Hesburgh Award.
He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Helen and Wilfrid Auger; niece Pamela Auger-Thornton, and nephews Peter Auger, Vincent Auger, and his wife Karen. Additionally, Br. Thomas is survived by great nieces Christelle Auger and Cassandra Thornton, and nephew Evan Thornton, as well as many beloved cousins and friends. Br. Thomas is predeceased by his parents Thomas and Anna (Schmitt) Scanlan, and his brother John.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to The Brother Thomas Scanlan, FSC, Endowment for Lasallian Heritage at Manhattan College. For more information, please contact Stephen White at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-862-7548.