Br. F. Edward Coughlin will step down as Siena College’s president next summer at the end of his current three-year contract.
“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,” he said in a letter. “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.”
His three-year contract expires Aug. 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,” he said. “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.”
Coughlin informed the Siena Cabinet of his decision on Tuesday, June 25. The College’s Board of Trustees, Board of Advisors and the entire campus community were informed a day later.
Coughlin was named interim president of the college in August 2014, when his predecessor, the Rev. Kevin J. Mullen, was elected to lead the Franciscan friars of the Holy Name Province. He was officially appointed the 11th president that November, and was formally inaugurated in a campus ceremony in October 2015.
Highlights of his five years in office include:
- 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, which requires a 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.
- 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.
At the time of his appointment as interim president, the Buffalo native was a Siena trustee and vice-president for Franciscan mission at his alma mater, St. Bonaventure University.
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.
Coughlin is currently out on medical leave for scheduled, non-urgent surgery and is expected back on campus before the start of the 2019-20 academic year. Margaret A. Madden, 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.
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.