When Anthony Joseph Aretz was inaugurated as the sixth president of the College of Mount St. Joseph in mid-March, the affable educator brought a new dynamic to campus. “Tony,” as he tells everyone — even newcomers — to refer to him, is a startling change from his predecessors, if only for his gender and background. While previous presidents Sister Francis Marie Thrailkill and Sister Jean Patrice Harrington were both members of religious orders, Aretz hails from a career at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and Christian Brothers University in Memphis. Aretz, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, and his wife, Terry, have been married for 25 years; they have three sons, Tommy, David and Michael. We asked Aretz to comment on his role at The Mount, an undergraduate and graduate college in Delhi Township that was founded by the Sisters of Charity and continues to provide an interdisciplinary and professional curriculum emphasizing values, service and social responsibility:

You were academic vice president at Christian Brothers University and, by your own account, happily settled in Memphis. Why the move? I wasn’t looking for a job. This just happened. It was Providence. I got a call.

What finally brought you to The Mount? When colleges search for a new president, the things they are looking for are, do the primary drivers fit, and do you fit in the culture? I like to say I came here not because of me, but because I could fit in the community ... in a role of service leadership and shared governance. This culture was very strong at The Mount already.

How do you like to lead? It’s not so much coming here and leading. I like to talk. I see it as having an ongoing conversation. I like to lead by facilitating the success of others.

What immediate challenges do you see? It has been an interesting year. The economy has pushed things a little faster toward the next chapter in the story, figuring out the future of The Mount.

You often visited relatives in Indiana while growing up and obtained your M.A. from Wright State University, so you’re already familiar with the area? I remember going to Coney Island, Kings Island, and seeing Reds games (as a child).

You’ve said you’ll be drawing on your background in the Air Force and at the Air Force Academy, where you taught for 17 years. Yes. That’s why colleges were created in this country, to create leaders. We want to help rediscover the purpose of a liberal arts education (here), emphasizing character and ethics. You need an educated workforce, but you need more than that to develop a thriving society.

The bulk of graduates of The Mount opt to stay in Cincinnati, correct? Indeed. We are a regionally focused institution. We need institutions such as this, that are grounded in the local community — 85 percent of our students are from the Greater Cincinnati area.

You’ve stated the mission of the college must be more than about classes and co-ops, that there must be loftier goals. We have a lot to offer the community, but we must constantly question ourselves about what we might be sacrificing by focusing too much on job training.