Stonehill College names East Providence native Denning as new president


EASTON, Mass. Stonehill College has named Rhode Island native Rev. John Denning, C.S.C. as its 10th President following a unanimous vote by its Board of Trustees Friday, May 17.

Currently the Vice President for Student Affairs at the College, Fr. Denning, who grew up in East Providence, will assume the presidency on July 1, as Rev. Mark T. Cregan ’78, C.S.C. steps down after 13 successful years of leading the 65-year-old Catholic liberal arts college.

In accepting the appointment, Fr. Denning, 53, said, “I am honored and humbled at the opportunity to lead Stonehill. I believe in the wonderful story of this College. Its mission provides each student with a learning experience that transcends the classroom for the good of the broader community and fosters a hunger to build a more just and compassionate world.”

Thomas May ’69, chair of Stonehill’s Board of Trustees, believes Fr. Denning’s passion will help lead the College to continued success. “Fr. Denning has a deep knowledge of Stonehill. The Board is impressed by his vision and his steadfast commitment to keeping the College on its upward trajectory. In addition to his commitment to the Holy Cross philosophy of educating the mind and the heart, Fr. Denning has already shown his leadership capacity in two key vice presidential positions at the College,” said May.

“As he moves into the presidency, Fr. Denning brings with him a thoughtful and substantial leadership style. He is a careful listener with excellent interpersonal skills and has the ability to bring people together,” May added.

Rev. Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., Provincial Superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the order that founded Stonehill in 1948, noted that, “Stonehill is an important ministry of Holy Cross in the United States and education is at the heart of our mission. With understated confidence, Fr. John has devoted his life to serving Catholic education. In particular, he appreciates the history and the importance of collaboration between Holy Cross priests and brothers and our lay partners and the power of that partnership as we move forward as a community. We welcome Fr. John’s election as president and have faith the Holy Spirit will continue to bless Fr. John and Stonehill.”

Following the announcement, Fr. Denning cited his “desire and passion to work on building Stonehill’s strengths and meeting the challenges that confront the College’s community of scholarship and faith. These include furthering our strong academic reputation, deepening our commitment to diversity and enhancing our Catholic character.”

Since 2007, Fr. Denning has guided Stonehill’s Student Affairs Division, collaborating with others on campus to ensure that a culture of learning permeates all areas of College life.  Prior to that, he served as the College’s first Vice President for Mission, establishing that division and launching initiatives to enhance Catholic identity at the College. Fr. Denning began his service at the College in 2000 as its Director of Campus Ministry.

Prior to his arrival at Stonehill, Fr. Denning served as Campus Minister at the Catholic Center at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater; Teacher, Coach, and Chaplain at Coyle & Cassidy High School in Taunton; and Vocations Director for the Congregation of Holy Cross.

He is a current Trustee of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., another Congregation of Holy Cross institution. Also active in local affairs, Fr. Denning serves on the Boards of My Brother’s Keeper in Easton and Father Bill’s & MainSpring Coalition for the Homeless in Brockton.

A Rhode Island native, Fr. Denning graduated from LaSalle Academy in Providence and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in New Orleans.  He entered the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1983 and received a Master’s of Divinity degree from the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada.  He is presently a doctoral candidate in higher education administration at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  His dissertation research is on student social movements in the 1960s, in particular the Young Christian Students.

The inauguration of Fr. Denning will take place on campus later in the year and planning for that event will begin shortly.

Stonehill Trustee William Devin ’60 chaired a 13-member Presidential Search Committee. Composed of trustees, faculty, students and alumni, the Committee conducted an eight-month search to identify a successor to Fr. Cregan who announced his decision to step down in September 2012.


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