Bellarmine hires fourth president


Dr. Susan M. Donovan

Record Staff Report

Bellarmine University’s Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Susan M. Donovan as the university’s fourth president. Donovan, who is set to begin work on July 1, is currently Loyola University Maryland’s executive vice president.

Donovan has served as executive vice president of Loyola, a Jesuit liberal arts school located in downtown Baltimore, since 2011. She also served as acting president in 2015. In her 32 years at Loyola, she worked as vice president for student development, dean of students, dean of residence life and interim vice president for advancement, according to a news release from Bellarmine.

Donovan, 58, said in the release her career in Catholic universities has prepared her to lead Bellarmine.

“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 in a statement. “This transformation of the heart happens through our teaching, scholarship, meaningful service and civic engagement.

“Few institutions have made more progress than Bellarmine University in the last 25 years,” Donovan said in the release. “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 holds a doctorate 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.

Donovan’s husband, Dr. Bill Donovan, is an associate professor of Latin American history. The couple have twin daughters who are in college

Pat Mulloy, chairman of Bellarmine’s Board of Trustees, said 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 has seen expansion of its programs and enrollment in the last quarter of a century under the leadership of the late Dr. Joseph J. McGowan, who served as president of Bellarmine from 1990 to 2016. Enrollment rose by about 60 percent under his leadership. Today the university has 4,000 students purusing undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in schools of business, communication, continuing and professional studies, education, environmental studies and nursing and health sciences, along with the Bellarmine College of Arts and Sciences.

Interim president Dr. Doris Tegart has led Bellarmine since the death of McGowan, the university’s longest-serving president, in March 2016.

Bellarmine, established in 1950, has also been led by Msgr. Alfred F. Horrigan, 1950 to 1972, and Dr. Eugene V. Petrik, 1973 to 1990.

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