Madonna University Names Eighth President

Dr. Christopher Dougherty

LIVONIA, MICH. – Christopher Dougherty, Ph.D., by unanimous vote of the Board of Trustees, will become the eighth president of Madonna University effective July 1, 2023. Dougherty will succeed Interim President Ian Day in guiding the 2,100-student liberal arts University in Livonia, Michigan.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Madonna University community. I was drawn to the University’s Felician Franciscan tradition, which was evident in my interactions with students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and the Felician Sisters during the search process,” Dougherty said. “The range of programs, experiences, and opportunities for learners at Madonna University is exceptional.  The spirit and beauty of the campus and surrounding area complement the University’s mission and outreach to partner institutions and learners across the lifespan and around the globe.”

D.J. Boyd, Madonna University board chair and vice-chair of the presidential search committee, was pleased with Dougherty’s selection. “Chris is a mission-driven, servant leader with a strong commitment to academic excellence. His breadth of experience in the many facets of independent Catholic university administration, coupled with his deep faith and respect for our Felician Franciscan mission, will serve him well and enable him to quickly acclimate to his new role,” Boyd said. “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I welcome Chris and his family to the Madonna community.”

With more than 30 years of higher education experience, Dougherty brings a wealth of experience in academic leadership, fundraising, enrollment management, mission integration, and student affairs at several colleges and universities. He holds an earned doctorate in higher education and a minor in sociology from the Pennsylvania State University, a master’s in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in English with a minor in Spanish from Saint Joseph’s University.

Dougherty comes to Madonna University from Chestnut Hill College, in Philadelphia, where he serves as associate professor of business after having served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty from 2017 through January 2023.

In his role as vice president Dougherty introduced the first fully-online programs at Chestnut Hill College, and launched several new graduate and undergraduate programs, such as, cybersecurity, health sciences, special education, and organizational leadership. In 2020, Dougherty was project director and awardee for a $2.2 million, Title III Department of Education, five-year grant for the Strengthening Institutions Program.

Prior to his work at Chestnut Hill, Dougherty served as provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at Rosemont College, in Pennsylvania, from 2011-2017, which included two years as interim vice president of enrollment management. Under his leadership Rosemont saw increases in undergraduate (24.5%) and graduate (7.7%) enrollments. He also led the development of student life and athletics programs.

While at Rutgers University-Camden, from 2004-2011, Dougherty expanded University College-Camden (UCC) undergraduate enrollment from 600 to over 1,000 students via a range of outreach, veterans’ services, and academic support programs, including making UCC the first and only Servicemembers Opportunity College across all of Rutgers University.

Dougherty has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in data analytics, research methods, and probability and statistics. His research interests include adult learning, student learning assessment, continuing education, and professional development, and he has presented at numerous conferences and been published on these topics as well.

As a servant leader, Dougherty has shared his time and talent as president of the Association of Continuing Higher Education, and as board chair and advancement committee chair at Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware.

Madonna’s new president enjoys running and biking, and has raced competitively in middle- and long-distance events as recently as 2021, including the 2002 and 2012 Boston Marathons, the 2014 USA Track and Field (USATF) Masters Cross County National championships, and multiple USATF Mid-Atlantic Road Series events. 

A lifelong Roman Catholic, Dougherty grew up in Glenolden Pennsylvania, just outside of Philadelphia. He and Joanne, married 31 years, live in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, and are the proud parents of Madeleine, a master’s student at Chestnut Hill College, and Isabel, an undergraduate student at Penn State University. The Doughertys also share their home with two pugs, Wybie and Beeb, brothers rescued by Joanne in 2018.

“Joanne and I are excited about the opportunity to make our family home in the Livonia area and to enjoy the many aspects of life at Madonna University,” Dougherty said.

Madonna’s Interim President Ian Day was appointed in February 2022 and Dougherty’s appointment is the result of a six-month, nation-wide, presidential search.

About Madonna

Liberal arts education, career preparation, and service learning have been the hallmarks of a Madonna University education for 85 years. In addition to the beautiful main campus, conveniently located at I-96 and Levan Road in Livonia, Madonna offers academic programs in Gaylord, Macomb, and online in Haiti and the United Arab Emirates. Michigan’s most affordable, independent Catholic liberal arts university, Madonna offers more than 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate programs in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education and Human Development, and Nursing and Health, as well as the School of Business. Learn more at madonna.edu.

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