February 11, 2015
Livonia, Mich. – Madonna University, which has been led by the Felician Sisters since its founding some 78 years ago, today announced its first lay president, Dr. Michael A. Grandillo.
Grandillo will succeed Sister Rose Marie Kujawa at the helm of the 4,200-student, liberal arts University in Livonia. He will assume the Office of President July 1, 2015, and an inauguration will be planned for the fall.
“I am humbled and honored to be called upon to serve and lead this exceptional University community,” Grandillo said. “I understand and embrace the charism and core values of the Felician Sisters and Madonna University. I am eager to continue building on our successes to ensure Catholic higher education is accessible and affordable at Madonna.”
The Honorable Michael Talbot, Madonna University Board Chair, and member of the Presidential Search Committee, was more than pleased with Grandillo’s selection. “At this historic juncture; when the University is hiring its first lay president, Dr. Grandillo is the perfect leader to take Madonna into the future,” Talbot said. “His breadth of experience across all aspects of university administration, and his deep faith and respect for the Felician/Franciscan mission and tradition will serve him and the Madonna community well.”
With more than 35 years of higher education, Grandillo brings a wealth of experience in academic leadership, recruitment, enrollment management, public relations and advancement at a number of colleges and universities. During his career, he has participated in or led more than 30 strategic planning projects in higher education, community organizations, and government. Grandillo’s reach wasn’t limited to higher education. He was elected to the Tiffin City Council four times, and served a year and a half as council president. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown recently appointed Grandillo to his commission to screen candidates for federal appointments.
A lifelong Roman Catholic, Michael Grandillo grew up in Dayton, Ohio. He and his wife Nancy raised their children, Vincent and Gina, in Tiffin, Ohio, where they also worked with, supported and enjoyed the compassion of the Sisters of St. Francis. A Heidelberg College alumna, Nancy serves as Board Chair of Terra Community College in Fremont, Ohio. Vincent is a graduate of Hiram College and Gina is a junior at Ohio Northern University.
As a consultant with the Registry for College and University Presidents, Grandillo presently serves as interim vice president at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he leads the Foundation Board, advancement team and public outreach initiatives. Just prior to St. Mary’s, he completed a similar assignment at Bethel College in Indiana. In both situations he restored trust, transparency and teamwork to the institutions.
Prior to his time with the Registry, Grandillo served as president and CEO of Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wis. He honed his presidential leadership and fundraising skills during his 17 years as vice president for development and public affairs at Tiffin University, and another nine years as director of development at Heidelberg College.
His fundraising prowess resulted in five successful capital campaigns, tripling of the endowment at two institutions, and raising more than $80 million dollars. “I am excited to be a part of fostering an enhanced philanthropic vision for Madonna,” he said.
He began his career in admissions at his alma mater, Ohio Northern University, where he received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. During his tenure as associate dean of admissions at Heidelberg, undergraduate enrollment doubled.
With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio Northern University, Grandillo attended the University of Dayton to earn a Master of Science in Education. In 2006, he completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Higher Education and Italian Renaissance History at the University of Toledo.
His research and scholarly interests are in the areas of philanthropic support of education, university history and public policy, and enhancing the collegiate experience for students and student-athletes. He has presented at numerous conferences, shared his time and talent with a number of community service groups, and as an adjunct professor, he has enjoyed teaching political science.
“Nancy and I share the University’s commitment to academic excellence, and we look forward to engaging students, in the classroom, on campus, and in social settings. We enjoy direct involvement in all aspects of student life and are particularly interested in helping to enhance an atmosphere of community,” Grandillo said.
Sister Rose Marie Kujawa announced her retirement last April. During her 14-year tenure and under her steadfast leadership, retention has improved by eight percent, the University’s first doctoral program (the Doctor of Nursing Practice) was launched, and Madonna became the first independent university in Michigan to be awarded the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She led more than $40 million in campus improvements, including construction of the school’s first stand-alone building in 40 years, and Livonia’s first LEED Certified building at the Gold Level. Her commitment to academics resulted in the growth of academic programs to 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate offerings, and her dedication to serving others compelled her to establish the Haiti Educational Leadership Program, which graduated its first seven students in May 2014.
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