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Benedictine Names New Provost

22 Feb

Michelle Reilly

News Editor

James E. Payne

James E. Payne. Photo credit to

Benedictine University has officially hired a new provost. James E. Payne, Ph.D, has landed the job as the next chief academic officer and will take over for Maria J. de la Camara, who has been serving as the interim provost for the past three years. Camara, also the Vice President for Academic Affairs, announced her retirement last year.

Payne is currently serving as the dean of the J. Whitney Bunting College of Business at Georgia College in Milledgeville, GA, and has over 28 years of experience in college level education. Part of that higher education includes a previous job as a provost at the University of New Orleans. With all of this experience and knowledge to offer the campus, Benedictine University President Michael S. Brophy, Ph.D., M.F.A., could not be more thrilled for Payne to start.

“The reason why he is a great addition at this point in time is that he’s been a provost before so he has that experience. Number Two-His strength academically, is in the business area, and with the addition of Goodwin Hall, the university would like the business programs to have a higher profile regionally and nationally. So, having a provost who is strong in the business area really helps us a lot,” stated University President Brophy.

Aside from his impressive administrative experience, Payne has also continued to be a scholar. He actively serves on several editorial boards, as well as a journal editor. He was names a 2000 Fulbright research scholar and 2007 Fulbright senior specialist to the Institute of Economics in Zagreb, Croatia. His background in education started at Berea College in Kentucky where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Following graduation, he went on to grad school and earned a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Economics from Florida State University.

Payne has lived in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, and most recently Georgia. Now, he will relocate once again, to Illinois this time. This will be the first time in a while that he will have a true winter, and on top of that a Chicago winter. That being said, this new position has to mean a lot to him and he did speak a little bit about his decision to take this all on.

“First, my value system aligns with the mission and values of Benedictine University. Second, the dedicated faculty and staff clearly understand the student-centered focus of a Benedictine education. Third, on a more personal note, the location enables me to be closer to family. Fourth, I actually miss the seasons, though I am sure some will remind me of the warmer weather I left behind when winter approaches,” Payne explained.

When asked what excited him most about this opportunity, he had a lot to say.

“My excitement about Benedictine rests the university’s student-centered focus that embraces a value system that aligns with my own values.  As such, Benedictine not only provides a transformative educational experience that prepares students for success in their chosen career, but to also make a difference in the lives of others.  During the course of my interviews for the Provost position, I sensed the Benedictine community understood the importance of educating the whole person which confirmed my initial impressions.  I am really looking forward to settling in and begin meeting with the faculty, staff, and students,” stated Payne.

For those who are unaware of what the provost position is, it is really the Chief Academic Officer, essentially. Their job is second in command to the president of the university, so you could say they are the vice president of the university. If Dr. Brophy were to be gone for a day, this person would be the one in charge.

“They are the leader of the faculty when all is said and done and when I am not here, they are in charge. So they are the number two at the university,” explained Dr. Brophy. The university president also went on to share his predictions on Payne. “He will be a future president someday, somewhere, if it’s not here.”

Payne is finishing his time as dean down at Georgia College and will start as our provost on May 1st.

Benedictine University at Mesa Opens First Residence Hall

22 Feb

By: Michelle Reilly

News Editor

On Tuesday, February 7, the Mesa campus turned a former hotel into its first residence hall. The Alhambra Hotel is located at 43 S. MacDonald Street in Arizona according to a press release from the university.

“We took a beautiful landmark that is at the heart of downtown Mesa and made a great thing happen,” said university Presi
dent Michael S. Brophy according to the release.


Photos from Mercy Robb Executive Director of Marketing and Communications

The renovation project cost $3.3 million and turned what was once a transient hotel into single- and double-room suites. The building comes with study areas, lounges, a café, kitchens, laundry and exercise rooms, an outdoor commons area, patio space and parking. The new facility can house up to 53 students, but with a second phase buildout, it will house roughly 10 more students. Nearly 100 people attended the dedication and ribbon-cutting, including students, faculty, staff, city officials, property developers and members of the general public.

“You can tell this is not a typical institution of higher education,” said Mesa Mayor John Giles, according to the release. “Benedictine is very special.  What a great addition to downtown Mesa. To have 24/7, these vibrant, great students who are going to be a part of this neighborhood, who are going to keep businesses alive and attract a lot of exciting activity to the downtown area … this is the start of a very healthy community housing development in our downtown. That’s worthy of our celebration.”

The building first opened in 1894 as the Pioneer Hotel. It was then named the Alhambra and was one of the most popular places to stay, it was devastated by a fire in 1921. Although it did endure the test of time, the hotel fell into neglect and eventually served as a transitional-living facility and residential hotel.

“If you know anything about Benedictine, history is important to us,” said Charlie Gregory, campus executive officer at BenU at Mesa, according to the press release. “Community is everything, and we are proud to be a part of this community.”

The project all began back in August when a Phoenix-based developer, Venue Projects, and California-based Community Development Partners, bought the building for $1 million. The teams then reached out to Benedictine at Mesa because they knew they were in need of a residential facility for students. They then both came to an agreement and leased the property to BU at Mesa. Some students were in attendance at the ribbon cutting ceremony and could hardly contain their excitement.

“The facility is amazing,” said Ana Gonzalez, a junior Management and Organizational Behavior major, in a statement to the university. “I couldn’t ask for more. Everything is new. Students love the fact we are in Mesa, and that we are so close to school and all of the restaurants and businesses. We are really thankful that they chose this location,” she continued. Gonzalez, a Queen Creek, Arizona native, was named the first official resident assistant for Alhambra Residence Hall.


Photos from Mercy Robb Executive Director of Marketing and Communications

Before the new residential building opened its doors, student housing was available through an agreement with the Phoenix Marriott Mesa. The new residence hall is located near the Mesa Arts Center, which is only a mile away from the main campus building at 225 E. Main St.






Valentine’s Day Photo Booth

22 Feb

Lina Zhu

Staff Writer


Photo credit to Lina Zhu

As Valentine’s Day came upon us, Benedictine University Photography Club held a photo booth in Kindlon on Tuesday, February 14. Participants could take three photos with a charge of $1 with Valentine’s Day props and a themed background.

“It is a fun way for people to get involved in different holidays,” said student, Emily Neis, who saw this event from the Facebook page, and then just decided to bring a group of friends to join in. “Everything about it was fun. They had props for us to use and a nice background. It was very nice,”Neis described.

The event went very well. Students posed for the camera with different positions, enjoying a relaxing moment during a rigorous school day.

“I like to take photos. I take a lot of selfies. I enjoy looking at myself,” said fellow student, Jahaven Haye. Haye took a group picture with his friends, saying it was a day their single friends hang out together.

The photos will go the Photography Club’s Facebook account, and students can download their photos from the album.


Students pose for pictures in Kindlon. Photo credit to Lina Zhu

“We decided to do this event to bring the idea of photography to the students,” explained Brittney Ballard, the secretary of the Photography Club.

“A lot of people take pictures off-camera or selfies on Snapchat, and we wanted to bring that to a live event. We hope students can get the idea that photography is fun,” stated Ballard.

Valentine’s Day is a good opportunity for running an event, as more students are willing to interact and spend their money during the holiday time. Benedictine Photography Club is planning to organize more events in the future, hoping to let students know more about the club, discover the beauty in our life, and enjoy the fun of photography.