Siena College announced today that its president, Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D., will leave office next summer at the conclusion of his current term.

“It has been a great honor and at the same time a great challenge to serve Siena over the past five years during this key moment in our history,” said Br. Ed in a letter today to the Siena campus community. “I am grateful for the many ways the Cabinet and so many others within our community have stepped up, embraced change, and leaned in through a shared desire to ensure the future vibrancy of the College.”

Br. Ed will step down when his current three-year contract expires August 31, 2020. This aligns with the College’s timeline to begin developing a new strategic plan and engaging in substantial fundraising for campus improvements designed to support students and accommodate new academic programs. 

“Given the transformative work ahead and the timeline required, the College must have a leader who can inaugurate this process then actively see it through over the next five to seven years, if not beyond,” said Br. Ed. “We have laid a strong foundation, and this is the right time to begin a search for a new leader for the next phase of Siena’s history. Be assured that I remain dedicated to leading the strategic work in front of us during the coming year.”

Br. Ed personally informed the Siena Cabinet of his decision on Tuesday morning. The College’s Board of Trustees, Board of Advisors and the entire campus community were informed earlier today. 

He was named interim president of the College in August 2014, when his predecessor, the Very Rev. Kevin J. Mullen, O.F.M. ‘75, was elected to lead the Franciscan friars of the Holy Name Province. Br. Ed was officially appointed the 11th president that November, and was formally inaugurated in a campus ceremony in October 2015.

During his five years in office, Br. Ed led the College’s marked successes in new academic programming, enrollment and marketing, fundraising and facility enhancement:

  • Siena is on track this fall to enroll one of the largest freshman classes in its history, with more than 800 incoming students.
  • The College introduced – and then expanded – the St. Francis Scholarship to ensure greater socioeconomic diversity among its student body. Twenty-seven percent of incoming freshmen will be eligible for a Pell Grant (family income of less than $50,000).
  • Eight new majors and an MBA have been added in the past five years, more additions to academic programming than in any period since the founding of the College. The majors were strategically tied to student demand and purposefully connected to careers with strong hiring rates and potential growth, among them nursing, health studies and communications.
  • Net total assets have grown by more than $35 million since 2013, raising the endowment to more than $130 million. The College experienced its largest non-campaign fundraising year ever in 2018-2019, with gifts totaling more than $10 million.
  • The Siena College Research Institute formed a ground-breaking partnership with The New York Times to track real-time political polling; the College opened the Breyo Observatory – which houses the third largest telescope in New York; and completed a $13.5 million renovation of the athletics facilities.

A Buffalo, N.Y. native, Br. Ed has a distinguished career in Catholic higher education. At the time of his appointment as interim president, he was a Siena trustee and vice-president for Franciscan mission at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University. Coughlin has twice been the director of St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Institute where he oversaw the research program’s academic course offerings and extensive publications. He has been a member of the Institute’s summer faculty since 1984.

Author of more than 20 articles and book reviews, Coughlin holds a doctorate from the Catholic University of America, a master’s from Boston College and a bachelor’s from St. Bonaventure. He has presented at academic and pastoral conferences across the United States and around the world, from New Jersey to Texas, Ireland to Japan and Bolivia to Zambia. He has served on numerous boards of directors and trustees, including those of Siena, St. Bonaventure, Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School in Buffalo and St. Francis Friends of the Poor Foundation in New York.

Br. Ed is currently out on medical leave for scheduled, non-urgent surgery and is expected back on campus before the start of the 2019-2020 academic year. Margaret A. Madden, Ph.D., vice president for academic affairs, is serving as interim president this summer. 

“Br. Ed has served Siena with great distinction and has advanced a history of Franciscan leadership that has continuously enhanced our academic reputation, financial stability, physical plant, relationships with our constituencies, and profile in higher education,” said John F. Murray ’79, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, “He will continue to lead Siena College throughout a critical time in our history over the next year as we work together toward the goals outlined in our strategic plan, and will leave with our profound gratitude and admiration for his extraordinary example of servant leadership and for all that the College has accomplished under his direction.”

Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees Thomas J. Baldwin Jr. ’81 will assemble and chair a steering committee charged with organizing a presidential search with the assistance of an outside independent firm.   

Siena College is a private, co-educational liberal arts college in the Franciscan and Catholic tradition. Siena is committed to offering the Education for a Lifetime for a new generation of leaders eager to create a more just, peaceful and humane world. This education empowers them through a transformative journey of intellectual, spiritual and personal discovery.

Founded in 1937, Siena offers 36 majors, 80-plus minors and certificates, and prestigious joint-degree programs in liberal arts, science and business. A wide range of student activities join with immersive service learning, research opportunities, extensive study abroad options and an NCAA Division I athletic program in providing more than 3,000 students the opportunity to prepare for a lifetime of making a difference.