Bartels service to Newman began as a Board of Trustees member in 2011. Since then, she has served as chair of the Advancement Committee, a member of the Enrollment Management Committee, Board of Trustees vice-chair, Board of Trustees chair and finally, interim university president — a role she began Jan. 1, 2020 after the retirement of Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D. Bartels’ current focus is to help the university’s 12th president, Kathleen S. Jagger, Ph.D., transition into her role.
Acting in an interim role was not a new venture for Bartels. She has served as an interim CEO four times during her career, including for two nonprofit organizations that support higher education.
Her prior experiences helped her as she navigated through her six months as interim president at Newman.
“I think all of my experiences have helped me to learn that I always have more to learn,” said Bartels. “Serving as an interim president provides an opportunity to build bridges and quickly assess what can be accomplished — and what can’t — in a short amount of time. So my prior experience helped me to recognize that I could only do what I was able to do and to let go of some of the longer-term goals I might have wanted to tackle.”
Bartels said her time as interim president allowed her to establish relationships with community members and gave her opportunities and memories that she will carry with her for many years to come.
Some of her favorite moments include working with Bishop Carl Kemme, the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, members of the Board of Trustees and cabinet, staff members, faculty, students and donors.
“I truly felt called to serve in this role at this particular time,” she said. “I enjoy working on challenging issues with competent people and this year has certainly provided plenty of opportunities to do so. I have had a few restless nights, yet I’ve enjoyed the work knowing that the Holy Spirit is at work alongside us.”
Her focus when she began her role as president was three-fold: sustaining Newman financially, putting people first and addressing physical and technological needs. She said keeping those principles in mind, she and her colleagues were able to achieve some measure of success.
Keeping an open line of communication was also a strong focus for Bartels as she wanted university staff, faculty and community members to be kept informed as the semester progressed.
Monthly video messages were created and sent via email to the Newman community as events such as the presidential search took place, the COVID-19 pandemic created unexpected changes and the university’s new program, Navigator, was being introduced among many other important moments.
Now she’s focusing on helping Jagger, Newman’s latest president.
“I’m here for whatever Dr. Jagger needs,” said Bartels. “I’ve been trying to download a lot of information I’ve stored in my brain or in my files over the past nine years to help her with her learning curve and set her up for success.”
Bartels said Jagger — a woman who is thoughtful and compassionate and carries a deep faith — is a great fit for Newman.
She added that Jagger’s educational background in microbiology and public health are perfect for Newman and for this time of dealing with COVID-19.
“Her experience as a faculty member, dean, provost and interim president at multiple institutions provides her with both depth and breadth of understanding the challenges facing all of higher education,” said Bartels.
“She values diversity and inclusion and she is a quick learner who listens to others’ perspectives and is very capable of making decisions.”
Bartels is excited to aid in Jagger’s transition, but she also looks forward to returning to her hometown of Mundelein, Illinois. She has been living in Wichita during her time as interim president without being able to travel on a regular basis due to the pandemic.
Upon her arrival in Mundelein, she will return to her full-time duties as president and CEO of Hallbart Consulting, LLC. She will continue to coach a Vistage Emerging Leaders group and plans to start a second group in September.
She will also continue her service as a member of the Executive Ethics Commission for the State of Illinois and the Board of Directors for Cancer Treatment Centers of America – Chicago.
Her time at Newman will be cherished, she said. She is grateful for the people she has met and the opportunities provided during her tenure.
“I’m grateful that Newman University is blessed with people who believe in our mission and work every day on behalf of our students. I know that Newman is a special place, blessed by God and supported by our namesake, St. John Henry Newman, and our founder, St. Maria De Mattias.
“Higher education must change to meet the myriad needs of today’s students. I believe that Newman is well-positioned to continue to make appropriate changes that will allow it to thrive and be sustainable. Our world needs Newman graduates well-prepared to transform society now more than ever.”