Thomas More president steps down

MERRIMACK – The president of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts abruptly resigned last week.

Jeffrey Nelson was president of the private Catholic college in Merrimack for three years before stepping down, said Patrick Monaghan, chairman of the college’s board of trustees.

Monaghan said Nelson submitted his resignation without any prior notice late last week. When asked what reasons Nelson gave for stepping down, Monaghan would only say that Nelson left to pursue other interests.

A press release issued by the college Monday said Nelson “resigned to pursue another education and business interest.”

Monaghan told the New Hampshire Union Leader that Nelson stepped down because of attacks from some in the college community who were unhappy with the changes he made.

“Any change or anything he did has been viciously and uncharitably attacked,” Monaghan told the paper. “The personal pressure on him has been great. He is suffering from battle fatigue.”

The college also announced Monday that William Fahey, formerly the college’s provost and vice president for academic affairs, was named as Nelson’s successor. Fahey will be the college’s third president in its 31-year history.

Monaghan praised Nelson’s tenure at the school, noting the addition of quality faculty and a development office. But Nelson also faced his share of critics, as any president would, he said

Peter Sampo, Nelson’s predecessor, also had critics, Monaghan said.

“They both had people who were their critics and people who were their supporters,” he said.

Monaghan stressed that Fahey has the unanimous support of the college’s board of trustees.

It’s not clear whether Fahey is the acting president or permanent president.

On Monday, Monaghan had referred to Fahey as the acting president and said the board of trustees would have to convene to discuss the process of searching for a permanent president.

The press release issued later in the day referred to Fahey as the president.

Thomas More has an enrollment of roughly 85 students.

Small private colleges have been struggling financially. Last week, it was announced that Daniel Webster College agreed to sell to ITT Educational Services, a for-profit company.

Monaghan said that, like most colleges, Thomas More has had its struggles but said that the college will be around for a while.

“We’re had our share of ups and downs,” he said. “We’re still here, and we’ll be here.”