Reflecting on a 44-year career

Tara O'Neill

If you give Patrick Healy, senior vice president for finance at Quinnipiac, any day of the year, he can say what day of the week it is. This is a skill he acquired over 44 years of extensive scheduling. But after this semester, his busy schedule will come to an end.

Healy is set to officially retire, effective June 30, 2015, after 44 years at the university. During most of his time at Quinnipiac, Healy was in charge of financial management, facilities, security and personnel and administrative services.

Healy attended Quinnipiac in Sept. 1961 when it was a commuter school with nearly no dorms and approximately 700 students.

As the oldest of five children, Healy financially supported himself through college. After a year at Quinnipiac, he had to leave and join the army because he couldn’t afford the tuition – which was $350 per semester, at the time.

After six months of active duty, Healy returned to Quinnipiac in Sept. 1963 and finished his three years because of the benefits provided by the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act – also known as the G.I. Bill – to war veterans after returning from duty.

Healy was a member of the graduating class for 1966 and graduated Quinnipiac with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.

“On a personal level, when I graduated from Quinnipiac as a highly idealistic student, I was going to set the world on fire and do a great job,” Healy recalled.

And so he did.

After graduating from Quinnipiac, Healy got a master’s degree in business administration from the University of New Haven and a PhD in higher education administration with a specialization in finance and leadership from the University of Connecticut.

These degrees prepared Healy for a job in Washington, D.C., working for the U.S. General Accounting Office as a financial auditor, where he handled financial mistakes and oversights.

Healy married and had two children before returning to Connecticut, when he decided he wanted to return to Quinnipiac. He reached out to contacts he knew at Quinnipiac and was hired as the director of project accounting in Feb. 1972.

In this position, he oversaw the federal programs, which were mainly focused on building the School of Health Sciences. He said the whole school was built on a five-year federal program grant.

“We had, virtually, every program in health funded by one of those [grants] and I was administering those, financially,” he said.

Healy was promoted to vice president for finance and administration in 1980. He has been the chief financial officer at Quinnipiac for 35 years.

“Every check since 1980 has had my name on it at Quinnipiac,” Healy said. “There’s never been anybody’s name on a check that wasn’t mine in 35 years.”

During his 44-year career with Quinnipiac, he said he watched the university’s endowment go from nearly nothing to upwards of $400 million. But he was also able to watch the university expand in more than a monetary way.

He said the university started with a plan of six buildings and throughout his time at Quinnipiac, he has seen that initial plan expand to three campuses, with millions of square feet and an upwards of 800-acres.

In an email to the university last semester, President John Lahey said Healy was responsible for acquiring the land for the York Hill campus and purchasing and developing parts of the campus to make it what it is today.

“Under his leaderships, we have more than doubled the size of the Mount Carmel campus and added two new campuses, York Hill and North Haven,” Lahey said in the email.

Reflecting back on these additions to Quinnipiac, Healy said he enjoying looking back and seeing all that he has helped achieve.

“It’s been a great privilege and pleasure to see the fruit of my labors,” Healy said. “It’s a great sense of having accomplished something.”

Some of his fondest memories were being able to witness architectural and academic achievements that he said have been the capstone on the development and maturity of Quinnipiac.

“I was involved in building almost every building from 1980 to a couple of years ago,” Healy said. “Acquiring and developing the York Hill campus, building those dorms and building that athletic facility were huge accomplishments. The [TD Bank Sports Center] really allowed [the university] to be a competitive, Division I, elite program with a phenomenal modern facility.”

Healy said his proudest accomplishment at Quinnipiac was when the university was named the No. 1 private university in the United States in a study called “Highest Average Return on Net Assets in the 10-year period from 2000 to 2010.”

“This study included all of the major private universities – Ivy League, major independents, religious,” Healy said. “For a [chief financial officer], this was a great accomplishment.”

Another accomplishment for Healy was being named a top Irish educator by The Irish Voice, a newspaper based in New York City. He said this accomplishment was important because he is of Irish descent and was very involved in setting up the study abroad program in Ireland. He also was able to be involved with Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum on Whitney Avenue.

“Through that exposure, I came to appreciate the traditions, hardships, character and strengths of the Irish people,” Healy said. “I was very proud to be honored at a reception held at the residence of the Irish Consul General [in New York City].”

Reminiscing on his time at Quinnipiac, Healy said he was glad to have taught for more than 30 years. He said teaching was an important experience because it helped remind him why he was at Quinnipiac.

“I wanted to go somewhere and feel like I was going to accomplish something, where what I did accomplish would matter,” he said. “And I think I did that here [at Quinnipiac].”

After retiring, Healy said he intends to stay connected to Quinnipiac because he defines his family as “a Quinnipiac family” since his wife worked at the bank on campus and two of his three children attended the university.

As vice president for finance, Healy spent years attending board meetings, budget meetings and many other meetings in between. He said a typical day is filled with meetings. The thing he said he is most excited for after retiring is the lack of structure and not having to stay within a strict schedule.

“I probably will travel because I won’t be bound to a schedule anymore,” he said. “But other than that, I have no specific plans. When you’ve given so much of your life to one thing, it’s hard to switch gears.”