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St. Bonaventure University selects Dr. Jeff Gingerich as 22nd president

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ST. BONAVENTURE — Dr. 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.

Dr. Jeff Gingerich

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.

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 Father Scott R. Pilarz, SJ, who passed away March 10, 2021, just nine days after St. Bonaventure lost 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.

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.

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.

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.

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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