Acting President Joseph E. Zimmer, Ph.D., speaks at a Commencement ceremony.

St. Bonaventure University

Office of the president


Acting President Joseph ZimmerDr. Joseph E. Zimmer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at St. Bonaventure since 2015, was named acting university president in January 2021 following the hospitalization of the university's 21st president, Dr. Dennis R. DePerro, for treatment of COVID-19.

Dr. DePerro passed away from complications of COVID-19 on March 1, 2021. (Please see Former President Dennis R. DePerro.)

Dr. Zimmer serves as acting president while a presidential search committee is engaged in the task of finding a successor to Dr. DePerro. For information about the committee and its work, click here.

Prior to being named provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. Zimmer long served St. Bonaventure in various academic roles including professor, program chair, and School of Education dean.

He taught in the School of Education for 22 years prior to being named the university’s chief academic officer. In his role as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, he was part of a leadership team that established the School of Health Professions and more than 20 new majors and graduate programs at the university.

Under his tenure, and with the explosive growth of online programs at the university, the graduate student population has grown from 40 students in 2015 to more than 550 students in 2020.

Appointed as assistant professor in 1992 and associate professor in 2007,  Dr. Zimmer also served as assistant education dean from 2001-2003. In 1996-97 he was an assistant professor of English at Grand Valley State University and returned to SBU in fall of 1997.

He served as director of the M.S.Ed. literacy programs from 1998-2011, director of the university’s Reading Center from 1997-2012, and was National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) coordinator from 2003-2011. He also was chair of the Faculty Senate from 2000-2005. 

Dr. Zimmer was named interim dean of the School of Education in August 2011 and appointed permanent dean in April 2012. 

From 2008 until 2017, Dr. Zimmer served in the universitywide role as accreditation liaison officer for Middle States regional accreditation. The most recent Middle States accreditation process concluded with very positive affirmation of the university’s programs and activities. 

Off campus, Dr. Zimmer was a co-author of a $3 million grant to promote early reading programs in the Olean City School District. He has served on the editorial boards of the international journal The Reading Teacher, and the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. He is the author of numerous publications in the field of reading. 

Dr. Zimmer served as president of the Allegany-Limestone Central School District Board of Education from 2010 to 2020. He is also a clarinetist in the Allegany Alumni and Friends Band. 

Prior to his service at St. Bonaventure, he was the reading/writing coordinator of the Thomas Edwards Learning Center at the University at Buffalo. 

Dr. Zimmer earned his bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in teacher education, master of education degree in English education, and doctorate in reading education from the State University of New York at Buffalo.