Dr. William Hynes, a former academic vice president of Saint Mary's College, will return to the East Bay this summer as the new president of Montclair's Holy Names University.

The board of trustees announced May 4 that Hynes, a president emeritus and professor of religious studies at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, would succeed Sister Rosemarie Nassif, who will retire July 31 after 11 years in the top post at Holy Names. Hynes, 69, will be the 142-year-old university's 17th president.

After getting to know the university better, Hynes said his main goals would be to support its nearly 1,200 students, raise additional funds and carry out a five-year strategic plan, which launched in 2007. That will involve renewing ties to foundations and donors.

"It's a very steep learning curve, but I like learning about tradition, and the value that has for me is I can let those traditions empower and guide me in my own work to make the university an even better place to be," he said. "I'll be working to emulate and celebrate the example set by our stellar president, Sister Rosemarie."

Ron Rosequist, chairman of the board of trustees, said Hynes is a good fit to carry on Nassif's work. The board chose Hynes after a yearlong search.

"Dr. Hynes inherits an institution with a positive financial footing that is primed for a new level of growth and development," Rosequist said in a statement. "His breadth of experience in fundraising and fiscal management will serve the university well as he undertakes financial campaigns to build HNU's endowment and provide funds for expanding academic programs and needed facilities."

Hynes' academic experience is long and varied.

After receiving a bachelor's of arts degree in philosophy and English from Conception College, he earned two master's degrees, one in Catholic theology from Marquette University and another in the History of Christian Thought from the University of Chicago.