Paul Katz, who has led the University of the Sciences since 2016, announced Monday that he will retire next month as the institution works to complete its merger with St. Joseph’s University.
“It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Katz, 73, said in an interview. “I think the time is right for me.”
Valerie Weil, the university’s chief financial and operating officer, will become interim president and lead the university as it finishes the merger, which is expected to be completed in a year, pending regulatory and accrediting approvals.
Katz, who plans to retire to South Carolina, will continue to serve as a consultant and adviser during the integration of the universities, the school said.
Under the plan, the 200-year-old USciences, formerly Philadelphia College of Pharmacy — the nation’s first pharmacy college — will merge into St. Joseph’s, a 170-year-old Jesuit institution.
St. Joseph’s will be the name of the combined institution, and Mark C. Reed, St. Joe’s president, will lead it. Combined, the institutions will enroll more than 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students, employ almost 450 faculty, and have an endowment in excess of half-a-billion dollars, an operating budget over $300 million, assets of $1.2 billion, and almost 95,000 living alumni.
When Reed and Katz announced earlier this month that the merger had been approved by both university boards, a St. Joe’s spokesperson said that Katz was supportive of Reed leading the new entity and that he would consider his plans.
Katz said Monday that he told Reed when they agreed to explore a merger that he didn’t want a job and intended to transition out.
“I have great confidence in my colleagues,” Katz said, including Weil, whom he has worked with for more than a decade, first at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in New Jersey and then at USciences. “St. Joe’s is the perfect partner for USciences and vice versa.”
It was USciences that approached St. Joe’s about the merger, though St. Joe’s had also been looking to add health-care programs.
USciences has faced financial challenges. In June 2017, with enrollment falling, it laid off faculty and staff and cut programs to plug a $4.5 million shortfall in its $90 million budget. Earlier that year, the school lost accreditation for its physician assistant program but has since regained it and admitted a new cohort of students. Also in 2017, the university reset its tuition and, with the lower price, saw a 30% increase in first-year enrollment in 2019.
Under the merger, tuition agreements and programs for current students or those who start next academic year before the merger is complete will be honored through their graduation, the colleges have said. Students who enter the new merged institution will pay St. Joe’s prices, which are currently more expensive.
During his tenure at USciences, Katz oversaw a new strategic plan and launched a new division with degree and certificate programs that are fully online. He led the university through the pandemic and was at the helm as it celebrated its 200th anniversary.
Katz, a physician who specializes in rheumatology, previously served as founding dean of Cooper Medical School. Before that, he held leadership positions at other medical schools and health systems.
Weil, 55, the incoming interim president, is also a medical doctor. She graduated from Bucknell University and got her medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Weil previously had been associate dean for finance, administration, and operation at Cooper Medical School and vice president for strategic planning and business development at the Cooper Health System.