Bellarmine University names new president

Bellarmine University names new president
Dr. Susan M. Donovan (Source: Bellarmine University)
Dr. Susan M. Donovan (Source: Bellarmine University)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Dr. Susan M. Donovan was named Tuesday as Bellarmine University's fourth president.

Donovan, who begins work July 1, has served as Loyola University Maryland's executive vice president since 2011. She was acting president of Loyola in 2015 and has spent 32 years of her career there. During that time, she also worked as vice president for student development, dean of students, dean of residence life and interim vice president for advancement. Early in her career, she reported to the provost and sat on the dean's council for seven years. Donovan was a member of the institutional governing bodies, including the academic senate, for more than 20 years. She began her higher education career while pursuing her doctoral studies at St. Louis University, working in student housing and operations.

Donovan will replace Dr. Joseph J. McGowan as Bellarmine's president. McGowan died unexpectedly last spring after a brief illness. He served as president for more than a quarter-century. Following McGowan's death, Dr. Doris A. Tegart was appointed to the position of interim president by the Bellarmine University Board of Trustees.

"Few institutions have made more progress than Bellarmine University in the last 25 years," Donovan said. "I am delighted to lead Bellarmine with an emphasis on strategic initiatives aimed at improving academic excellence, the student experience and our level of community engagement in Louisville and the region."

Donovan said her career working at Catholic universities prepared her to lead Bellarmine. Loyola is a comprehensive liberal arts college in the Jesuit, Catholic tradition.

"Our mission calls us to be a shelter in the storm of indifference, a beacon of hope for justice, a path out of poverty, and a companion to the disenfranchised people at the margins," she said. "This transformation of the heart happens through our teaching, scholarship, meaningful service and civic engagement."

Donovan, 58, holds a Ph.D. in higher education from St. Louis University, a master's degree in higher education from Florida State University, and a bachelor's degree in communications from Buena Vista University. She also attended Harvard University's Institute for Educational Management.

"Dr. Donovan was a key figure at Loyola during a period of transformational growth, much like our own, and the trustees know she will be an exceptional leader here at Bellarmine," Bellarmine Board of Trustees Chairman Pat Mulloy said.

Mulloy said Donovan is a principled and experienced higher education leader who will embrace Bellarmine's mission and vision, and work closely with faculty, staff, students and alumni - along with leaders in Louisville and throughout the region - to further enhance the university's academic offerings, campus facilities and fiscal strength.

Donovan's husband, Dr. Bill Donovan, is an associate professor of Latin American history. They have twin daughters who are college sophomores.

The Bellarmine community can greet President-designate Donovan, the first woman permanently appointed to the job of Bellarmine's president, Wednesday, February 22 at 3 p.m. on campus in Frazier Hall.

Bellarmine University serves nearly 4,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in schools of business, communication, continuing and professional studies, education, environmental studies, nursing and health sciences, along with the Bellarmine College of Arts and Sciences.

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