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Dr. Jeff Gingerich named St. Bonaventure's 22nd president

Mar 08, 2022

Dr. Jeff GingerichDr. Jeff Gingerich, provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs at the University of Scranton, has been named the 22nd president of St. Bonaventure University.

“Seldom in life do you see so many points of interest intersect on one conclusion, but in this case, all facets of the university community converged on a singular belief — that Jeff should be our next president,” said John Sheehan, ’82, chair of St. Bonaventure’s Board of Trustees.

Gingerich will be introduced to the campus community at a 12:30 p.m. press conference Wednesday, March 9, in Rigas Theater of the university’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Members of the campus community are invited to attend.

The press conference will be streamed live on the university’s ustream.tv channel.

Gingerich will take office June 20 from Dr. Joseph Zimmer, who has served as acting president since Dr. Dennis DePerro, 21st president of St. Bonaventure, passed away March 1, 2021.

“I’m so grateful to Joe for his service during these extraordinary times and look forward to a seamless transition this summer,” Sheehan said.

 

 

"Jeff has extensive academic administration experience and has shown himself to have a Franciscan heart ... I think he will enrich our tradition and continue the great Franciscan tradition at St. Bonaventure University."

The Very Rev. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M
Provincial Minister, Holy Name Province
Member, St. Bonaventure Board of Trustees

WATCH THE VIDEO MESSAGE

 

 

Trustees unanimously selected Gingerich after a nine-month search process led by a committee comprising university trustees, administrators, faculty, staff and students; the committee was co-chaired by trustees Deb Henretta, ’83, and Michael Hill, ’96. More than 60 members of the campus community participated in the on-campus interviews of the finalists.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity I’ve been given to join the Bonaventure community,” Gingerich said. “I have always had such deep respect and admiration for the Franciscans. Their humility, reflection and sense of community are fundamental in the way I strive to live my life.”

Gingerich helped Scranton navigate the COVID pandemic and served as acting president for four months after the death of the Rev. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., who passed away March 10, 2021, just nine days after St. Bonaventure lost Dr. DePerro.

“Having to cope with a pandemic and a president’s tragic death, much like we did during this strange and dynamic time, was important and spoke to his leadership ability, but I think what made Jeff shine is the way he fits into the charism of this institution,” Hill said.

“One of the friars stopped me at the Beef ‘N’ Barrel (restaurant) and by then he had seen all of the candidates. So I asked him, ‘What are your general impressions so far?’ and he told me, ‘That guy walks with (Saint) Francis.’ That comment was representative of the views of many trustees – that he’ll fit seamlessly into a place as special as Bonaventure.”

Gingerich checked every box the university was seeking in a leader, Henretta said.

“When I step back from everything I felt and all that I heard through the deliberations and the feedback from the stakeholder interactions, I think about it in three pillars,” she said. “Jeff is mission-driven, he’s student-centered and he’s a caring, empowering leader.”

The position of strength the university has achieved over the last five years — growing overall enrollment, adding academic and extracurricular programs, launching the School of Health Professions, aggressively updating facilities — also attracted Gingerich to St. Bonaventure.

“The initiatives that the university has been driving to put St. Bonaventure in a place to allow it to thrive in the future are very important to me,” he said. “There is a culture of innovation here that’s so critical in higher education today.”

Gingerich walked away from two days of campus interviews last week convinced that Bonaventure was a place he wanted to be, professionally and personally.

“Every person I encountered had a spirit about them that made it clear how much they loved and were committed to this place,” he said.

Prior to his role as provost at Scranton, Gingerich spent more than 18 years at Cabrini University in suburban Philadelphia, teaching in the Department of Sociology and Criminology (2005-2018) and serving as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs (2014-2018). He has served as acting president at Scranton and Cabrini, both Catholic institutions. 

A key institutional leader throughout the pandemic, Gingerich guided Scranton through unprecedented transitions to online and hybrid formats before the university returned to fully in-person instruction.

A consistent voice for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, Gingerich advanced new initiatives and programs at Scranton related to faculty hiring and development, staff and administrator training, curricular improvements, and student support and engagement.

Gingerich was responsible for many cross-divisional institutional priorities at Scranton and Cabrini, including leading the development of strategic plans at both institutions.

He also led two successful Middle States self-study accreditation processes, strategic enrollment planning, campus master planning, the development of a one-stop student services center, and campuswide strategic planning efforts for both leadership development and global studies.

An avid supporter of student-centered program growth, Gingerich worked with faculty at Scranton and Cabrini to develop successful new undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as the establishment of the Nerney Leadership Institute, the Slattery Center for Humanities, and four mission-focused academic centers at Cabrini.

Gingerich’s four-year tenure as provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs included a renewed focus on securing federal support for research and programs. In just the last two years, Scranton received more than $2 million in grants, including funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and National Institute for the Humanities.

At Scranton, he championed a partnership with a regional state correctional facility that is enabling incarcerated individuals to earn an associate degree through courses taught on site by Scranton faculty. At Cabrini, he regularly taught an “Inside-Out” course that included Cabrini students and incarcerated students.

Gingerich earned master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Eastern Mennonite College. He began his teaching career at Bluffton University in Ohio from 2000 to 2005.

Gingerich regularly writes and presents on current issues in higher education, including mission-related initiatives, shared governance and the changing role of the chief academic officer. He is also co-executive editor of “Praxis: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Faith and Justice,” a scholarly journal founded to advance the intersection of theory and practice in the pursuit of social justice through faith traditions.

Much of Gingerich’s work prior to entering higher education was shaped by six years as a voluntary service worker in New Orleans, coordinating conflict resolution programming at the Twomey Center for Peace through Justice at Loyola University.

These experiences inspired his research and teaching interests in race and ethnic relations, cultural analysis, prisoner reentry, and incarceration reform.

“My experience in New Orleans was so transformational. I had only planned to do two years, but I loved the work so much I stayed,” he said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. The experience of living in a diverse, urban community allowed me to reflect and challenge my place in the world.

“Those six years informed so much of what I’ve done at Cabrini and Scranton, and what I want to continue to do at St. Bonaventure. They helped me to understand cultures and systems and institutions more clearly.”

Those years of volunteer service made an impact on St. Bonaventure’s trustees and campus community members involved in the search and interview process.

“The man starts his career serving the poor in New Orleans. How incredible is that?” Hill said. “What better role model could we have for our students?”

Fr. Kevin Mullen, O.F.M., a university trustee and provincial minister of Holy Name Province, said Gingerich clearly understood the essence of Saint Francis.

“When Jeff said that Francis went out to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, that resonated with me. That’s the exact phrase that friars use to profess their way of life,” Fr. Kevin said. “He showed himself to have a Franciscan heart just through his own personal experiences of being sensitive to and responsive to people who are on the margins. This gives me great confidence that he not only understands our tradition, but will enrich it.”

A native of Parnell, Iowa, Gingerich and his wife, Betsy, are the parents of five children. Betsy has 30 years of experience in higher education, including many years at Alvernia University and Cabrini University.  

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About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. St. Bonaventure was named the #5 regional university value in the North in U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 college rankings edition.

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