Madonna University’s Eighth President Assumes Office

After his new-hire orientation and a campus tour, and with a few boxes to unpack, Christopher Dougherty, Ph.D., stops for a photo to mark his first day in the office as Madonna University’s eighth president.

LIVONIA, Mich. – Dr. Christopher Dougherty, Ph.D. assumed the office of president of Madonna University this morning. He is the eighth president to lead the 2,100-student, liberal arts university in its 85-year history.

“It’s exciting to be on-campus today and to begin the role of President knowing that I am already surrounded and supported by faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners who care deeply about the experiences of Madonna University’s students. Everyone has been so welcoming of Joanne and me, in true Franciscan spirit,” Dougherty said. “I look forward to working to advance the rich legacy of the Felician Sisters and to continue to deliver the relevant academic programs and transformational educational experiences our students and their employers expect.”

Dougherty brings to Madonna more than 30 years of higher education experience in academic leadership, fundraising, enrollment management, mission integration and student affairs at several colleges and universities. Prior to being selected as Madonna’s eighth president, he served as associate professor of business at Chestnut Hill College, in Philadelphia, 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, and as associate dean at Rutgers University-Camden, and Philadelphia University. In these roles he worked closely with faculty, increased enrollment, and led the development of student life, athletic, and other programs.

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.

“I plan to find ways to give back to my community here in Michigan,” Dougherty said. “It is important to me personally, and it is important to Madonna that I am engaged and an active participant where I live and work.”

Dougherty 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 Bachelor of Science degree in English with a minor in Spanish from Saint Joseph’s University.

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 more.

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

“Joanne and I are still working with a realtor to find our family home in the Livonia area, where we look forward to enjoying the many aspects of life at Madonna University,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty’s appointment was the result of a six-month, nationwide, presidential search. He succeeds Interim President Ian Day, who was appointed in February 2022 and retired June 30, 2023.

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 www.madonna.edu.

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