Fred Pestello Doctoral Dissertation

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., is the 33rd president of Saint Louis University. The first permanent lay president in the University's nearly 200-year history, Dr. Pestello officially began his tenure at SLU on July 1, 2014.

As Saint Louis University's president and chief executive officer, Dr. Pestello leads one of the nation's oldest, largest and most prestigious Catholic universities with more than 13,500 students, 6,700 employees and a $1 billion endowment.

A Roman Catholic, Dr. Pestello is Jesuit educated and has spent the entirety of his 30-year career in Catholic higher education. A dynamic leader known for moving the institutions he serves forward, he brings extensive leadership experience to his role at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Pestello most recently was the president of Le Moyne College, a comprehensive Jesuit liberal arts institution in Syracuse, New York. At the time of his appointment in 2008, he became Le Moyne's first permanent lay president. During his six-year tenure, the college experienced significant growth and progress.

Under Dr. Pestello's leadership, Le Moyne had the four largest freshman classes in its history, nearly tripled the size of its endowment and pursued a number of campus improvement projects. A capital campaign, which started shortly before his arrival, closed at nearly twice its original goal. On the academic side, the college established a new business school and revised its core curriculum. Le Moyne's national rankings also rose.

A collaborative, inclusive and transparent leader, Dr. Pestello's first major undertaking at Le Moyne was a campus-wide initiative called "OneLeMoyne" that led to a new vision statement and strategic plan for the college.

Prior to becoming Le Moyne's president, Dr. Pestello spent nearly 25 years as a faculty member and provost at the University of Dayton, a Catholic, Marianist research institution in Ohio that is similar in size and scope to Saint Louis University.

At Dayton, Dr. Pestello served as a professor of sociology, chairman of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. As a faculty member, he was thrice elected vice president of Dayton's academic senate, the highest position a member of the faculty could hold at that time.

In 2001, Dr. Pestello was appointed Dayton's provost and senior vice president for educational affairs. In that role, he was noted for his emphasis on faculty development and for making academic excellence the centerpiece of the school's educational processes. He also led a collective effort to draft a vision statement that spawned a new strategic plan for the institution.

In addition to his roles at the university level, Dr. Pestello has served on the board of the American Council on Education's Commission on Effective Leadership, and he is a member of the Council of Independent Colleges' board of directors.

Born and raised in Cleveland, Dr. Pestello has three degrees in sociology. He earned his bachelor's degree from the Jesuit institution John Carroll University in 1974, his master's degree from the University of Akron in 1981, and his doctoral degree through a joint program of the University of Akron and Kent State University in 1985.

Dr. Pestello's wife, Frances Pestello, Ph.D., also is a sociologist and scholar, most recently serving as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology at Le Moyne College. In 1993, the couple co-authored the award-winning academic tome Sentiments and Acts with Irwin Deutscher.

The Pestellos have two adult children: a daughter, Vitina, and a son, Freddie. Outside of his academic and leadership duties, Dr. Pestello enjoys jazz, theater, bicycling and travel, among many other pursuits.

Office of the President

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., became the 33rd president and chief executive officer of Saint Louis University in 2014. He is the first permanent lay president of Saint Louis University since its founding in 1818.

As president, Pestello oversees one of the nation’s leading Jesuit research universities with nearly 13,000 students, more than 7,000 employees, an annual operating budget of more than $775 million and an endowment of $1.1 billion.

SLU accomplishments during Pestello’s tenure include a $115 million investment in student housing and a historic partnership with SSM Health that includes the building of a $550 million hospital and outpatient facility at the SLU Medical Center. During his tenure, SLU has enrolled its most talented first-year class. Pestello actively sustains a campus-wide focus on inclusivity, having peacefully resolved a major campus protest in fall 2014.

Pestello currently serves on the board of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In St. Louis, he serves on the boards of Civic Progress and the Cortex Innovation Community. He is a founding member of the board of the Foundation for the Pontifical Institute of Theology at Posillipo in Italy.

Pestello is the only person to be elected as the first lay president of two U.S. Jesuit institutions. He joined SLU after serving six years as president of Le Moyne College, achieving record-breaking levels of enrollment, endowment and campus construction. Prior to that appointment, Pestello was faculty member, department chair, associate dean and provost and senior vice president for educational affairs during his 25-year career at the University of Dayton.

Pestello earned his bachelor’s degree at John Carroll University and completed his graduate work in sociology at the University of Akron.

selected presidential messages

selected presidential REMARKS

President’s Cabinet

Dr. Pestello has a cabinet comprised of senior administrators who report directly to him and who advise him on important University matters. Members of the cabinet also work closely with trustees, deans and other vice presidents to advance SLU’s strategic priorities. Members are:

  • Kevin Behrns, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs, Dean of the School of Medicine
  • Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., Provost
  • Justin Daffron, S.J., Assistant to the President
  • Jeff Fowler, Vice President for Marketing and Communications
  • David Heimburger, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • William Kauffman, Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary of the University and Chief of Staff
  • Sheila Manion, Vice President for Development
  • Kent Porterfield, Vice President for Student Development

Presidential Councils

The President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) is responsible for reviewing and approving all University policies and providing input on other important University matters. The group is comprised of senior administrators and the leaders of the Faculty Senate, Staff Advisory Committee and Student Government Association.

The President’s Advisory Council (PAC) is a 100-­member body that is charged with representing the interests of faculty, staff and students in major University decisions. The group is comprised of all vice presidents and deans, the executive leadership of the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association, the chairs of the college and school faculty councils, and a number of staff and administrative leaders.

Mission and Diversity Offices

At SLU, the Office of Mission and Identity and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement report directly to the president.

As the Assistant to the President for Mission and Identity Christopher Collins, S.J.,  provides executive-­level leadership for fostering and promoting SLU’s Catholic, Jesuit identity. He also works to ensure that SLU’s mission and core values — as well as the principles and traditions of Catholic, Jesuit higher education — are fully integrated into everything the University does.

As chief diversity officer, Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., vice president for diversity and community engagement, leads efforts to make Saint Louis University more inclusive and welcoming to diverse populations. He works to increase SLU’s outreach to the St. Louis community and access to a SLU education to young people from the region’s most disadvantaged areas.

President's Coordinating Council Members
  • Kevin Behrns, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs, Dean of the School of Medicine
  • Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., Provost
  • Daniel Carter, President of the Student Government Association
  • Christopher Collins, S.J., Assistant to the President for Mission and Identity
  • Justin Daffron, S.J., Special Assistant to the President
  • Jeff Fowler, Vice President for Marketing and Communications
  • Peter Garvin, Chair of the Staff Advisory Committee
  • Jay Goff, Vice President for Enrollment and Retention Management
  • David Hakanson, Vice President and Chief Information Officer
  • David Heimburger, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • William R. Kauffman, J.D., Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary of the University and Chief of Staff
  • Michael Lucido, Vice President for Facilities Services
  • Michael Luna, Vice President for Human Resources
  • Sheila Manion, Vice President for University Development
  • Chris May, Director of Athletics
  • Kenneth Olliff, Vice President for Research
  • Kent Porterfield, Ed.D., Vice President for Student Development
  • Douglas Rush, J.D., Ph.D., President of the Faculty Senate
  • Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Paul Vita, Ph.D., Director and Dean of SLU-Madrid
  • Mardell Wilson, Ed.D., Dean of the Doisy College of Health Science
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