Three SFC students viewing the Franciscan Week exhibit.

Presidential Search

St. Francis College Announces New President Miguel Martinez-Saenz

New Leader Dedicated to Student Access, Retention, & Success

St. Francis College is pleased to announce Dr. Miguel Martinez-Saenz as the 19th President in the College's 160 year history. He will begin his term in September at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year, taking over for Interim President Timothy J. Houlihan who filled the position after the death of Brendan J. Dugan '68 in December of 2016. (Español)

President Martinez-Saenz comes to Brooklyn Heights from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio where he was the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

miguel martinez-saenz

"When we set out to find a new president, we looked for a champion of the Franciscan values of kindness and service; someone who also brings deep academic experience, solid leadership skills, and an accomplished track record," said Chair of the selection committee Denis J. Salamone '75, a member of the Board at M&T Bank Corporation. "Of the 80 applicants we reviewed, it quickly became apparent that Dr. Martinez-Saenz was exactly the type of person we were looking for. We are fortunate he felt the same way about St. Francis College."

A Cuban-American with 17 years of academic and leadership experience, Dr. Martinez-Saenz is committed to three major pillars of higher education; student access, retention, and student success.

"Going to college is only meaningful if colleges deliver what they promise," said Dr. Martinez-Saenz. "Our educational goals reach beyond general knowledge and skills and include cognitive, socio-emotional and moral development. Mastery of these areas help students become desirable to employers. But first, students have to graduate and to graduate we must meet the needs of the students we choose to enroll."

With a Master's Degree and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of South Florida, President Martinez-Saenz began his academic career as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. After earning tenure and promotion at Wittenberg, Dr. Martinez-Saenz accepted and held two administrative appointments: Assistant Provost for the First-Year Experience and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs.

Among his accomplishments in those administrative roles are the creation of a student-centered first-year experience aimed at easing the transition to college life, an artist-in-residence program, and the development and implementation of programs that promote diversity, equity, and respect.

Over the course of his career, Dr. Martinez-Saenz has worked with a wide variety of businesses and community groups; creating partnerships that resulted in internships, fellowships, and special events that benefitted his students.

Working with the President at Otterbein, he helped cultivate relationships and gain commitments of public and private money to launch The Point, a groundbreaking maker space with 3D printers, electronics, machine, and wood shops that also houses private companies and academic programs.

Dr. Martinez-Saenz moved from Wittenberg to accept the position of Dean and Associate Provost for Student Success at St. Cloud State University where he led a data analytics initiative that examines the factors influencing retention, with a special emphasis on the magnitude of these effects. This research helped his team focus on ways of intervening and how certain factors would impact student retention.

Dr. Martinez-Saenz's most recent appointment was at Otterbein University where he served as Provost. In that position he led a number of efforts especially in the context of internationalization that included a three-year global arts initiative, funded in part by the National Endowment of the Arts. He also helped lay the foundation and developed partnerships with universities in South Africa, Costa Rica, Brazil, and Malaysia. Of significance, Dr. Martinez-Saenz was an administrative Fulbright Scholar (March 2016) through the Fulbright-Nehru International Education Administrators Program.

Outside the university setting his experience has been varied and diverse. He has worked with his spouse, Julie Holland, a former 8th grade public school Social Studies teacher, tutoring teens at or below the poverty-line, has conducted philosophy workshops in juvenile detention centers, and has accompanied student groups to build houses in rural communities in Nicaragua as part of trips organized by Bridges to Community. Notably, while in Springfield he was a founding board member for a non-profit organization that works with social service organizations to assess, develop and implement strategies to strengthen their capacities; more recently, Dr. Martinez-Saenz has been focused on creating collaborative opportunities between community colleges and four-year universities, working to connect social entrepreneurs with re-entry work and has devoted significant time to teaching in correctional facilities.

"President Martinez-Saenz is a rising star in the academic world," said Chairman of the Board of Trustees John F. Tully '67. "His dedication to the students lies at the core of his career and his focus on giving all students the best college experience possible will ensure that St. Francis College continues to flourish as a top private institution for many years to come."

"Higher education is in the middle of a major transition, being re-imagined and re-conceptualized to meet the demands of a changing globe," said Dr. Martinez-Saenz. "I look forward to working with the professors, students, administrators, alumni, and friends of St. Francis College to determine the best way for us to grow, change and lead."

A deliberate and devoted writer and speaker, Dr. Martinez-Saenz has been published in a number of academic journals and written several columns and editorials for Ohio newspapers, the Huffington Post and The Hill.

He has written and presented on issues including but not limited to: how philosophy can turn the headline grabbing news cycle into more meaningful conversations; why living the Franciscan phrase, "Preach the Gospel always, when necessary use words," makes for strong leadership; Jorge Luis Borges and the power of translation; and how colleges must balance the need for students to get jobs with the importance of providing substantive educational experience.

President Martinez-Saenz has been honored with a variety of accolades during his academic career, including the Ohio Latino Awards Educator of the Year, Insight into Diversity Visionary Award, and The Lillian C. Franklin Diversity Award.

Dr. Martinez-Saenz will be moving to Brooklyn with his wife Julie, their two children (Caterina and Joaquin), and their two dogs (Charlotte and Dallas).

A schedule of events for the inauguration of Dr. Miguel Martinez-Saenz will be announced in the coming weeks.

Photo by Ed Syguda (Otterbein University)

Presidential Search Committee Update

June 13, 2017

Dear St. Francis College Faculty, Staff, Administration, Students, Alumni and Friends:

It is a pleasure to update you on the activities of the Presidential Search Committee. As previously reported, the Search Committee consists of 13 members representing many constituencies of the St. Francis College Community, including faculty, students, administration, Franciscan Brothers, alumni and Trustees. Earlier this year, the Search Committee conducted an open and inclusive gathering of ideas from the SFC community which resulted in the Presidential Profile. The Presidential Profile describes the qualifications St. Francis College seeks in its next President. Please see the Presidential Search portal on the College’s website ( for further information.

In early May, the committee reviewed in depth the materials of 80 candidates who had completed the application process. After reviewing these applications and with the input of our consultants at Witt/Kieffer, the committee selected several semi-finalist candidates who best met the qualifications outlined in the Presidential Profile. I am pleased to report that we have many very qualified candidates. Last week, the semi-finalist candidates were interviewed in person by the Search Committee. From those interviews, the Search Committee agreed to bring several finalists back for further interviews.

The finalist interviews will occur over the next month or so and will include confidential meetings with representatives of the many constituencies comprising the St. Francis College community. These constituent groups will report their views to the Board of Trustees through the Search Committee.

It is important to note that the search and selection process remains confidential in order to attract the most qualified candidates and maintain the integrity of the process. Several candidates are very high performing leaders at their current institutions and would discontinue their interest in SFC if their identity is disclosed.

Upon conclusion of the finalist interviews, the Search Committee will present each of the candidates to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will select the next President and contract negotiations will commence. We expect that we will be able to announce our new President before the start of the next school year. Please note this is the planned timeline and could change as necessary. We certainly want to announce our decision before the Fall 2017 term, but will not sacrifice the quality of candidate or the search process to achieve this end.

The Search Committee has spent a considerable amount of time working on this very important task. Despite busy schedules related to their own careers and families, each has made this search a priority. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I am grateful for their efforts and I believe the result of their good work will be the hiring of our next President in the near future.

Thank you for your continued interest in our Presidential Search. Please do not hesitate to contact the committee or me through Alexandria Egler, Ph.D. if you have any questions. We will endeavor to answer them within the confines of our confidential agreement with the finalist candidates.


Denis J. Salamone ‘75
Presidential Search Committee

Presidential Search Committee Update

March 29, 2017

Dear St. Francis College Faculty, Staff, Administration, Students, Alumni and Friends:

It is a pleasure to share an update with you on the presidential search process.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee, I extend my gratitude to all of you who took the time to participate in our open forums and meetings with Mr. Dennis Barden, Ms. Sheila Murphy and Ms. Kim Brettschneider of the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. These meetings, which were held on February 22nd and 23rd, assisted the team in building a deeper understanding of the College, the expectations, challenges, responsibilities, as well as the qualities and characteristics of our next president. They also offered an opportunity to members of our SFC community to gain an awareness of the search process as well as ask questions and share concerns. The committee and our team from Witt/Kieffer are very pleased with the enthusiastic participation and fruitful conversations that took place on campus during those two days and the feedback has been tremendously positive.

Search Committee Meeting

The Search Committee met on February 23rd with the Witt/Kieffer team to review and edit a draft of the advertisement as well as discuss placement of the advertisement. The committee also worked to focus on ranking the most essential and important qualifications of our new president. As a result, a leadership profile has emerged that will be shared with potential candidates. Both the advertisement and the leadership profile have been uploaded to the College’s website. Our search will be an open, inclusive, national recruitment of candidates with Witt/Kieffer screening every application and interviewing the most qualified. A timeline was presented as we move strategically with rigor, care and prudence in our process.

Committee Objectives

Our objectives as a committee are to work on behalf of the Board of Trustees to accomplish the following:

    • Prepare and approve a leadership profile and institutional opportunities for the next president and a statement of desired characteristics and experience necessary to realize these opportunities based on input from the College’s faculty, staff, administration, students and the Franciscan Brothers. This objective has been realized and the leadership profile is now on the College’s website and has been made available to candidates.
    • Conduct an open, inclusive and national search to attract highly qualified candidates.
    • Recommend to the Board two to three preferred candidates, unranked, with substantiation of the committee’s conclusion that these candidates meet the requirements for the position.

Communication, Process and Timing

It is the desire of the committee to be as transparent as possible about the process. The committee has been charged by the Board of Trustees to lead a search that will result in the best possible group of candidates and the most promising set of finalists.

To the degree that it is possible and without compromising confidentiality requirements, the committee will provide updates to the College community regarding the overall progress of the search process.

Our goal is to be as inclusive as possible while also having the capacity to protect the confidentiality of candidates. With this in mind, we will be utilizing a hybrid search model that allows the search committee, as well as selected members of the College community to meet finalist candidates. All who will be involved in the interviewing process will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement. There will not be open, public forums with the candidates.

Our planned timeline remains the same. The recruitment of candidates is underway. In mid-May the Search Committee will select the candidates to be interviewed in person by the entire Committee. Those interviews will occur by the end of May. During the month of June, the Committee will host a second round of interviews, select potential finalists and lead the confidential hybrid review process mentioned above before recommending two or three finalists to the Board of Trustees by the end of June. We expect the Board of Trustees to select and negotiate a contract with our new President thereafter with public announcement long before the start of the next school year. Please note this is the planned timeline and could change as necessary. We certainly want to install our next President before the start of the school year, but will not sacrifice quality of candidate or search process to achieve this end.

Thank you for your continued interest in our Presidential search. Please do not hesitate to contact the committee or me through Alexandria Egler, Ph.D. if you have any questions or suggestions about the search.


Denis J. Salamone ‘75
Presidential Search Committee

Presidential Search Committee Announcement

February 8, 2017

Dear St. Francis College Community,

Shortly after President Dugan’s untimely death, the Board of Trustees met and made two important decisions for the continued success of St. Francis College: The Trustees appointed Dr. Timothy J. Houlihan as Interim President and created a Presidential Search Committee. I write today with important updates about the search for our next President, including information on the process, timing and how you can be involved in the process.


This 13 member committee is made up of individuals who are not only trustees, faculty, administrators, alumni, a current student, and parents of alumni, but they possess a multitude of skills and serve a variety of roles throughout our community. Each has graciously offered to participate in what is an all-important, but time-consuming process. They are:

Board of TrusteesFaculty
Hector Batista ’84Dr. Kathleen Nolan
Msgr. John J. BrackenDr. Frank Sorrentino
Brother William A. Boslet, OSF ’70
Jean Desravines ’94Administration
Dr. Leslie JacobsonLinda Werbel Dashefsky
Michael MacchiarolaMadalyn M. Hanley ’80
Dr. Victor J. Masi ’89
Denis J. Salamone ’75 (Chair)Student
Phoebe Lee ’17
Assistant to the Committee
Dr. Alexandria M. Egler


The search committee has retained the firm of Witt/Kieffer to assist us during this process. Dennis Barden, Sheila Murphy, Kim Brettschneider and their team at Witt/Kieffer bring an enormous amount of experience and will be a great help to us in managing the content and logistics of the process and identifying the most promising candidates. Perhaps their most important role will be to meet with faculty, administration, alumni, and students and gather feedback about the qualities that should be exemplified by our next President. The Presidential Search Committee will communicate the dates and times of open meetings with Mr. Barden and Ms. Murphy. Whether you attend an open session or not, we hope that everyone will share feedback with the consultants and the search committee by participating in an online survey.

Your comments will be anonymous and confidential. Your responses will help the consultants, and subsequently the candidates, understand the mission, charism and culture of St. Francis College, the challenges the College will face in the next few years, and the qualities and skills the next President should possess in order to lead St. Francis College going forward.


With input from the St. Francis College community and advice from our search consulting firm, the Presidential Search Committee will determine the qualifications necessary in our next President. The position will be advertised and a process of application by interested candidates will commence. The Search Committee welcomes any suggestions you may have for candidates. Details of the application process and instructions will follow. The Search Committee will review applicants and, after lengthy interviews and due diligence, expects to recommend finalists for selection by the Board of Trustees at the end of the process.

It is the intention of the Presidential Search Committee and the Board of Trustees to install our next President by the start of the 2017/2018 academic year. However, we will take the time necessary to find the best candidate to lead St. Francis College into the future even if the process goes beyond the beginning of the next academic year.

Denis J. Salamone’75, Chair of the Presidential Search Committee and a member of the College’s Board of Trustees, will provide periodic updates to the community through the St. Francis College website at These updates will explain where we are in the process, the next steps and timing as we know it. We will be as open as possible about the process, but the identity of the candidates and the discussions and deliberations of the Committee will not be disclosed to protect the privacy of the candidates.

Thank you in advance for your support and participation in this important process.


John F. Tully’67
Chair, Board of Trustees