TEMPE — Ryan Hanning has been named assistant vice president for strategic partnerships and director of cultural advancement at the University of Mary’s site located at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. Hanning was formerly director of Parish Leadership Support for the Diocese of Phoenix, where he provided services and support for more than 90 parishes.

Hanning said that in his new position, he is responsible for assessing partnerships with Arizona State University and other academic partners to meet the needs of students, donor development, and bringing the Catholic intellectual tradition to ASU students.

The University of Mary's Tempe campus named Ryan Hanning as assistant vice president for strategic partnerships and director of cultural advancement (courtesy photo)
The University of Mary’s Tempe campus named Ryan Hanning as assistant vice president for strategic partnerships and director of cultural advancement (courtesy photo)

Through the University of Mary, ASU students can earn a major or minor in Catholic studies or theological studies, and take individual classes from U-Mary as a complement to their ASU degree.

“ASU has been an incredible partner to work with,” Hanning said. U-Mary offers ASU students an exciting opportunity to access 2,000 years of Catholic heritage, he said. “We just opened our fourth semester here at the University of Mary-Tempe,” he said. “We have a really impressive planning process going on, and are working with ASU to maximize the programs we have in place.”

In a state without a history of Catholic higher education, Hanning also sees a good opportunity to develop partnerships. “There’s a lot of excitement,” Hanning said. “It’s unprecedented and remarkable, that the largest university in the Western Hemisphere, with 70,000 students, would partner with a small not-for-profit university.” This public-private partnership has come about because of U-Mary’s reputation, he said, a reputation that reflects the best of the Benedictine Sisters’ tradition.

Through this partnership, “we can combine the very best of a huge four-year secular university with 200-plus degrees, with the incredible care and interest of a small nonprofit school,” he said. Hanning said he believes that education is never about learning just one subject, but about integrating knowledge with the big questions of life. “It makes you a more complete person,” he said. “It’s about forming the whole person and seeking answers to the deepest questions of life.”

With the amazing research and vocational training available at ASU, U-Mary’s presence is an opportunity for the whole person to be formed, including faith and morality, he said. These values help people do well in the workplace, as well, he said.

The missionary spirit of the Benedictine Sisters who founded U-Mary is very much represented in Tempe, Hanning said. “We are able to integrate Benedictine values here in Tempe,” he said. “It¹s exciting to embody that, to give the best to our students.”

An alumni of ASU, Hanning majored in Religious Studies and did his post-graduate work in education and theology, He is currently completing his PhD in theology through Maryvale Institute in England. He developed programming and curriculum in education and religious studies for the Maricopa Community College district, where he was named Outstanding Adjunct Faculty of the Year in 2009 and helped coordinate the first graduating U-Mary Master’s in education cohort in Arizona. He also taught Scripture and theology as an adjunct faculty member at U-Mary and the Diocese of Phoenix Kino Institute.

“We are delighted to have someone of Ryan’s capabilities and character to lead our efforts in Arizona,” said Greg Vetter, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at the University of Mary. “He brings a lot of value to our university.”

A native of California, Hanning has roots in the Dakotas, having spent summers on the family farm near Mobridge, S.D. He and his wife, Rebecca, are expecting their seventh child in July.