Dr. Dennis R. DePerro, the 21st president of St. Bonaventure University and a long-time member of the Le Moyne College community, died Monday, March 1 as a result of complications from COVID-19. He was 62.
"The Le Moyne College community joins with others in mourning this tremendous loss," said Le Moyne President Linda LeMura. "Dennis worked so hard for St. Bonaventure and had accomplished so much in such a short period of time. He was beloved and touched so many lives at Le Moyne and kept in touch with many members of our campus community. He was a wonderful colleague, friend and confidant, and I will miss his one-of-a-kind sense of humor. Our prayers and sincere condolences go out to his wife Sherry, and sons Matthew and Andrew. He will be deeply missed."
“Words simply can’t convey the level of devastation our campus community feels right now,” said Dr. Joseph Zimmer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at St. Bonaventure, who was named acting president late last month while Dennis was in recovery. “I know when people die it’s become cliché to say things like, ‘He was a great leader, but an even better human being,’ and yet, that’s the absolute truth with Dennis. We are heartbroken.” The university flag will fly at half-staff on the St. Bonaventure campus in his honor through the end of March.
Stories on his passing ran in a number of places, Inside Higher Ed, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Syracuse.com and Channel 9.
Dennis was admitted to a Syracuse hospital Dec. 29 after testing positive for the coronavirus on Christmas Eve. He had been placed on a ventilator in mid-January.
He assumed the presidency June 1, 2017, and in less than four years oversaw the university welcoming the three largest incoming freshman classes in the last 11 years. He implemented new enrollment and marketing strategies and championed new academic program development. Under his watch, the university’s online graduate initiative saw significant growth, up 329% in enrollment since fall 2017.
Prior to becoming president at St. Bonaventure, he served as vice president for enrollment management at Le Moyne College for 18 years. During his 18 years as vice president, Le Moyne’s undergraduate enrollment grew from 1,680 to 2,400, while graduate enrollment rose from 390 to 650 over the same period. In 2013, he became the inaugural dean of the Purcell School of Graduate and Professional Studies. He also served as a professor of management in the Madden School of Business.
A Buffalo native and graduate of Bishop Timon High School, Dennis spent his entire 39-year career in college administration; for eight years (1982-1990) in admissions and alumni relations at his alma mater Canisius College, and for five years (1990-1995) as dean of admission and financial aid at Marietta College in Ohio before going to Le Moyne in 1995.