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Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., president of Siena College and former vice president for Franciscan Mission at St. Bonaventure University, died early this morning after suffering complications from non-emergency heart surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.
A Buffalo native and 1970 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, Br. Ed suffered a catastrophic stroke after an aortic dissection while undergoing the scheduled surgery July 23 for a congenital heart defect.
Details of Br. Ed’s funeral and interment will be announced shortly. They are expected to be held at St. Bonaventure. Siena will host a memorial service and celebration of his life in September, after students return to campus for the new academic year.
Br. Ed had announced in June that he planned to step down as president when his contract expired in August 2020.
Although a decade younger, St. Bonaventure President Dr. Dennis R. DePerro grew up in the same South Buffalo neighborhood as Br. Ed. They both graduated from Bishop Timon High School.
“This is such a profoundly sad day, not only for the Siena and St. Bonaventure families, but for the entire brotherhood of Franciscan friars,” said DePerro, who became SBU’s president in 2017.
“Br. Ed was a mentor, a tremendous friend and colleague to lean on, both for advice and support, in my time here as president. Beyond that, he was simply a remarkable human being, a wise and gentle spirit who lived each day the Franciscan ideals that make institutions like St. Bonaventure and Siena so special,” DePerro said.
Br. Ed had been president of Siena since 2014.
“The entire Siena College community is shocked and deeply saddened at Br. Ed’s untimely and unexpected passing,” said John F. Murray ’79, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees. “He served Siena with distinction and with a heartfelt commitment to the Franciscan ideals that governed his life and the life of the college. He set an extraordinary example of servant leadership for our community, and we extend our condolences to his family and to the Franciscan friars of the Holy Name Province.”
Margaret E. Madden, Ph.D., Siena’s vice president for academic affairs, was named acting president by the trustees at the start of Br. Ed’s medical leave in June. She will now serve as interim president while Siena continues its presidential search.
“Br. Ed led Siena with grace and humility, and he will be deeply missed by our faculty, students and staff,” said Madden. “His influence on Siena was profound. He was one of the kindest and most trustworthy people I have ever worked with. I feel fortunate that he was part of my professional and personal life, and I shall always cherish his mentorship, insight and good humor.”
He is survived by one brother, four sisters and several nieces and nephews.
Br. Ed was named interim president of Siena in August 2014, when his predecessor, the Very Rev. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M. was elected to lead the Franciscan friars of the Holy Name Province. Fr. Kevin is a St. Bonaventure trustee.
Br. Ed was officially appointed the 11th president that November, and was formally inaugurated in a campus ceremony in October 2015.
“Franciscan Brother. It was much more than a title in the life of Edward Coughlin — it was his identity,” said Fr. Kevin. “He was a Franciscan Brother to all. Whether meeting him for the first time or renewing a long-standing relationship, Ed was your ‘brother.’ Like St. Francis, he met you as an equal and immediately affirmed your dignity and worth. As a brother, he worked hard to advance your well-being. We will dearly miss our Brother Ed Coughlin, but if we follow his good example, his legacy will live on and continue to transform our world.”
During his five years in office, Br. Ed oversaw marked successes in new academic programming, enrollment and marketing, fundraising and facility enhancement.
Br. Ed had a distinguished career in Catholic higher education.
At the time of his appointment as interim president, he was a Siena trustee and vice president for Franciscan mission at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure. He served twice as director of St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Institute where he oversaw the research program’s academic course offerings and extensive publications, and was a member of the Institute’s summer faculty.
Author of more than 20 articles and book reviews, Br. Ed also holds a doctorate from The Catholic University of America and a master’s degree from Boston College.
He presented at academic and pastoral conferences across the United States and around the world, from New Jersey to Texas, Ireland to Japan and Bolivia to Zambia. He served on numerous boards of directors and trustees, including those of Siena, St. Bonaventure, Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in Buffalo and St. Francis Friends of the Poor Foundation in New York City.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.
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