St. Bonaventure University Inaugurates New President

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Dennis DePerro gives his first speech after being sworn in as the 21st president of St. Bonaventure University. (Photo courtesy of SBU)

The following information, originally distributed by St. Bonaventure University, has been edited for style. Among the friars who participated at the recent ceremony were David Blake, OFM, who offered the benediction, F. Edward Coughlin, OFM, president of Siena College, who spoke on behalf of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Daniel Riley, OFM, who gave greetings on behalf of the Franciscan friars and Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, who presented DePerro with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi, a replica of those stand on the campus of St. Bonaventure University and outside the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in New York City.

ALLEGANY, N.Y. — Considering it an “awesome privilege,” Dennis DePerro was formally installed on Nov. 3 as the 21st president of St. Bonaventure University.

Almost 1,000 people attended the inauguration ceremony in the Reilly Center Arena.

DePerro visited St. Bonaventure often when he was a student at Bishop Timon High School in Buffalo and always dreamed of attending the university as an undergraduate.

“God had other plans for me,” said DePerro, a Canisius College alumnus. “In those plans, however, I could have never imagined, in my wildest dreams, that today I would stand before you as the 21st president of this historically rich and beautiful institution. Words can’t express how humbled and honored I am.”

Delegates representing more than 50 colleges and universities, three past presidents, faculty members, friars, religious sisters, and university trustees, administrators, and student leaders took part in the ceremony.

Robert Daugherty, chair of the university’s board of trustees, was the last of 13 speakers to welcome DePerro and had the honor of officially installing him as president by placing St. Bonaventure’s presidential medallion around his neck.

“We know Dennis received tremendous guidance and mentorship from the Jesuits at Canisius and Le Moyne. He’d be the first to admit he wouldn’t be here today without their belief in him,” Daugherty said. “But I can assure you, at his core, he is Franciscan. We wanted someone who breathes it, lives it, exudes it — and I know he will do all of that for us and so much more.”

Gerard Rooney, president of St. John Fisher College and a longtime friend of DePerro, was effusive in his praise of SBU’s new president.

“Today, the St. Bonaventure University community installs a man with abundant gifts, steadfast commitment, and a strong vision,” Rooney said. “It is my hope and prayer – and my sincere belief — that he will find purpose for his gifts, and that his tenure as president will be blessed by God’s grace.”

Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen presents Dennis DePerro with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi. (Photo courtesy of SBU)

DePerro looked down the road at what he hopes his legacy at St. Bonaventure will be.

“The legacy I will one day leave as president of this university will probably not be in bricks and mortar, but rather in rebuilding and reinvigorating the infrastructure of this university so it can celebrate its bicentennial and provide a distinctive Catholic Franciscan education for many, many years to come,” DePerro said.

An Inauguration Mass was celebrated Nov. 3 by Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo in the University’s chapel.

On Nov. 2, inauguration activities began with a student-driven Day of Action that included service projects on campus and in the community, a fundraiser for BonaResponds (, and an awareness campaign and public panel discussion on inadequate local housing. Students and faculty in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts showcased their musical and theatrical talents on the same day at the Quick Center for the Arts to honor the new president.

DePerro took office as president on June 1. Committed to the liberal arts in a Catholic setting, he has spent his entire 35-year career in college administration; for eight years (1982-1990) in admissions and alumni relations at his alma mater Canisius College, Buffalo, and for five years (1990-1995) as dean of admission and financial aid at Marietta College in Ohio before going to Le Moyne in 1995.

DePerro holds a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in educational administration and supervision from Canisius, and a bachelor’s in biology from Canisius.

Photos of the inauguration of Dennis DePerro are available on St. Bonaventure University’s Flickr album.

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