‘The perfect fit’: Benedictine University to welcome new president

Joseph Foy

The interim leader of a private women’s college in Wisconsin will become the next president of Benedictine University, officials at the Lisle-based school announced March 28.

The Benedictine board of trustees unanimously selected Joseph Foy from a field of national candidates for the post. Foy replaces Charles Gregory, who is retiring in August after four years as university president.

“We were honored to meet with so many extraordinary candidates from all across the country,” board Chairman Daniel Rigby said in a school announcement. “But in the end, Foy was the perfect fit for the culture, values and vision of this university and we couldn’t be happier that he accepted our invitation to be president of Benedictine University.”

Foy serves as interim president and vice president for academic affairs at Alverno College in Milwaukee, a Catholic liberal arts college for women.

Six years ago, Alverno was recognized as Wisconsin’s first Hispanic-serving institution by the U.S. Department of Education.

Alverno reported enrolling 1,596 undergraduate and graduate students in the fall of 2022. Hispanic or Latino students made up a quarter of the student body.

With almost 4,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs, Benedictine, another Catholic institution, is more than twice the size of Alverno. The university also enrolls a diverse student body, including a significant population of Muslim students.

“As the next president of Benedictine University, it will be my responsibility to help build upon a foundation of excellence while concomitantly helping to meet the future of an increasingly globalized and diverse world,” Foy said in the announcement. “This can be done by letting our values continue to set the vision, and through a collaborative commitment to inclusive excellence at all levels.”

As Alverno’s interim president, Foy helped create a plan to make the college a more culturally inclusive community. Foy established a new Office of Equity, Diversity and Belonging.

Foy also developed a new dual degree program in public health with the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“I believe that my approach to leadership and experiences within Catholic higher education – as a student, an educator and as a leader – have prepared me well to be the type of president who can help advance Benedictine’s vibrant community,” Foy said. “It is my intention to become a true servant-leader who will promote trust and mutual respect within the community, while helping to articulate a unifying and aspirational vision for this great university.”

The university began searching for Gregory’s replacement in August 2022. Foy will take over as Benedictine’s 13th president on July 24.

A school spokesman said officials are not disclosing the length of his contract.

Plans for an inauguration event will be made after Foy starts working at the Benedictine campus. The academic year begins at the end of August, the spokesman said.

Foy comes to Benedictine with experience as chair of the political science department at the University of Wisconsin Colleges. From 2012 to 2014, he was associate campus dean and a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha.

Foy led statewide enrollment and recruitment efforts as associate vice chancellor at the University of Wisconsin Colleges from 2014 to 2018. Just before joining Alverno, he was the faculty dean at Marian University in Wisconsin until 2020.

Foy holds a doctoral degree in American government and comparative politics from the University of Notre Dame.

Benedictine was founded by the monks of St. Procopius Abbey in 1887 as St. Procopius College in Chicago. The school moved to its Lisle campus in 1901.