It is with a heavy heart that Siena College shares the news of the passing of Dennis R. DePerro, Ph.D., the 21st president of our sister school St. Bonaventure University.

Dr. DePerro died Monday, March 1 as a result of complications from COVID-19. He was 62.

“The relationship between Siena and St. Bonaventure is a strong one, steeped in our shared Franciscan mission and traditions,” said Christopher P. Gibson ’86 Ph.D., president of Siena. “As the Bonaventure community mourns the loss of their beloved president, we stand with them in their time of sorrow.”

“We respected Dr. DePerro for his inspirational vision to carefully examine issues critical to higher education, and his fervent commitment to delivering a transformational college experience for all Bonaventure students. We are grateful for his mentorship and guidance. He knew well, and passionately embraced, the Franciscan ethos.”

“Our prayers and hearts are with the DePerro family and with the extended Bonaventure family today and in the coming days,” said John F. Murray Jr. '79, chairman of Siena’s Board of Trustees. 

Ned Jones, vice president for enrollment management, called Dr. DePerro “a man of tremendous faith and deep love for his family.”

“His leadership in the field of enrollment management was rooted in his incredible ability to connect with all he met on an individual level and to understand their needs.”

“Words simply can’t convey the level of devastation our campus community feels right now,” said Joseph Zimmer, Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bonaventure, who was named their acting president in January. “I know when people die it’s become cliché to say things like, ‘He was a great leader, but an even better human being,’ and yet, that’s the absolute truth with Dennis. We are heartbroken.”

Dr. DePerro was admitted to a Syracuse hospital Dec. 29 after testing positive for the coronavirus on Christmas Eve. He had been placed on a ventilator in mid-January.

The Bonaventure university flag will fly at half-staff in his honor through the end of March. Siena has also lowered its flag to half-staff.

Dr. DePerro assumed the presidency at Bonaventure on June 1, 2017, and in less than four years oversaw the university welcoming the three largest incoming freshman classes in the last 11 years.

He implemented new enrollment and marketing strategies and championed new academic program development. He launched a comprehensive capital campaign to build “A Bolder Bonaventure,” stewarding transformative gifts to help the university’s new School of Health Professions become a reality. His vision to transform the university inspired him to form a number of campus-based presidential commissions early on in his administration.

Dr. DePerro is survived by his wife, Sherry, and his sons, Andrew and Matthew, as well as his extended family.