Joseph J. Foy, Ph.D. today was named the 13th president of Benedictine University by its Board of Trustees. He was unanimously approved by the board. Foy, whose term will begin July 24, 2023, is currently Interim President and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Foy was chosen from a field of national candidates to succeed Charles Gregory, who will retire this August. Gregory’s retirement will mark the end of a brilliant 51-year career in higher education, including 25 years at Benedictine, four years as University President.
Today’s announcement concludes an extensive search and thorough vetting process led by the Benedictine University Board of Trustees, as well as administrators, faculty and staff representatives. “We were honored to meet with so many extraordinary candidates from all across the country,” said Board Chairman Daniel Rigby. “But in the end Foy was the perfect fit for the culture, values and vision of this university, and we couldn’t be happier that he accepted our invitation to be president of Benedictine University.”
The Presidential Search Committee began its search in August 2022. The Committee retained the services of the executive search firm AGB to assist with the search process and garnered input from all areas of the Benedictine community.
Maintaining the Benedictine Vision
Upon his appointment, Foy pledged to remain faithful to Benedictine’s vision to be a thought leader in Catholic higher education; and to provide a transformative and integrative educational experience grounded in Benedictine values, helping students shape lives of meaning and purpose as engaged citizens who care for the earth, welcome people of diverse faiths and culture.
“I believe that my approach to leadership and experiences within Catholic higher education — as a student, an educator, and as a leader — have prepared me well to be the type of president who can help advance Benedictine’s vibrant community,” said Foy. “It is my intention to become a true servant-leader who will promote trust and mutual respect within the community, while helping to articulate a unifying and aspirational vision for this great university.”
Joseph Foy’s Career in Higher Education
Foy joined Alverno in 2020 as Vice President for Academic Affairs just two weeks after the campus community went fully remote in the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. He led academic related planning and policies for pivoting to remote learning and back to in-person courses. It was under the pandemic’s challenging conditions that Foy led efforts to partner with Synergis Education to launch a new location for the delivery of Alverno’s Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing program in Mesa, Arizona.
As Alverno’s Interim President, Foy helped form a shared equity leadership approach to access, belonging, equity, inclusion and diversity, and with three co-directors that he appointed, created a plan to make Alverno a more culturally inclusive community. Foy then established a new Office of Equity, Diversity and Belonging to be led by Alverno’s inaugural Chief Diversity Officer.
Benedictine’s track record on diversity and inclusion initially attracted Foy to Benedictine. “As the next president of Benedictine University, it will be my responsibility to help build upon a foundation of excellence while concomitantly helping to meet the future of an increasingly globalized and diverse world,” said Foy. “This can be done by letting our values continue to set the vision, and through a collaborative commitment to inclusive excellence at all levels.”
Other achievements at Alverno included:
Foy began his career in university leadership 2010 – 2011 as Chair of the Department of Political Science for the University of Wisconsin Colleges. Then from 2012-2014 he was Associate Campus Dean and Associate Professor of Political Science for the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. From 2014-2018 he was Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Wisconsin Colleges where he led statewide enrollment and recruitment strategies.
Just prior to joining Alverno he was Dean of the Faculty at Marian University in Wisconsin from 2018 to 2020 where he managed the implementation of transition to a new general education curriculum focused on outcomes-based learning that empowered student choice in concentration of studies.
Foy earned a bachelor’s degree, with honors, in Political Science and International Relations from Carroll College. He also holds a master’s degree in Comparative Politics and International Relations, and a Ph.D. in American Government and Comparative Politics from Notre Dame, Indiana. He has published and presented widely in his areas of scholarly interest.
Charles Gregory’s Benedictine Legacy
Gregory was named Benedictine’s President on January 8, 2019, the 12th president in the institution’s 135-year history.
While the list of Gregory’s accomplishments over these past four years is lengthy, some of his proudest moments for the university include guiding the university toward a positive trajectory of enrollment and increasing the University’s presence and reputation in the communities they serve, all in the face of a global pandemic. Gregory feels most proud of the university’s response to the pandemic while maintaining the health and safety of the community as a top priority.
Gregory saw the need to remain mission-driven during a time when higher education, especially for private liberal arts institutions, was challenging. To that end, he created a new Center for Benedictine Values. Gregory also was instrumental in bringing Benedictine University to the southwest with a campus in Mesa, Arizona which is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary.
Gregory was committed to lead with the Benedictine Hallmarks to help prepare all students to lead lives of meaning and purpose as concerned citizens who care for their community and welcome people of diverse faiths and cultures.
“Over my four years, working collaboratively with the board of trustees, the senior leadership team, faculty and staff, we have developed a strategic direction for continued growth and a path to a bright future for Benedictine University,” said Gregory. “And I couldn’t be happier with the selection of Joseph Foy. I know he will continue the great progress we have made, and will take this great University to even greater heights.”