Reverend Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., was named President of St. John’s University by the University’s Board of Trustees and assumed office on August 1, 2013. He brings to the position a long and impressive list of accomplishments in higher education and Vincentian leadership.
Most recently, he served for 13 years as President of Niagara University, which, like St. John’s, is sponsored by the Vincentian community. While at Niagara, Fr. Levesque spearheaded the creation of a comprehensive master plan for redevelopment of the institution’s 160-acre campus. Under the plan and his leadership, almost $100 million was invested in new construction, renovation, and improvement projects, all designed to enhance the teaching and learning process and enable Niagara to better serve the local and regional communities. The institution’s commitment to community service was underscored by the September 2011 establishment of Niagara’s Institute for Civic Engagement, which has been renamed the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., Institute for Civic Engagement. Fr. Levesque’s service to Niagara predates his Presidency by many years and evidences his extensive experience in higher education. He was a member of the faculty in the Religious Studies Department for more than a decade; served as Dean of Niagara’s College of Arts and Sciences and Director of its Graduate Division; and held the post of Residence Director for one of the institution’s residence halls.
Fr. Levesque’s commitment to higher education is conjoined with his fidelity to and leadership within the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian community). He served as President and teacher of religion at St. Joseph’s Preparatory Seminary in Princeton, NJ, during the 1980’s. And in 1990 he was elected as Provincial Superior of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission. In that capacity, he served as Chair of the Board of Trustees of both Niagara and St. John’s University; he holds honorary doctorates from both institutions as well as from Christ the King Seminary in Aurora, NY. Following his nine years as Provincial and his appointment as President of Niagara, he continued to serve as a trustee of St. John’s until 2009, when he was named trustee emeritus.
Fr. Levesque has held leadership positions within a variety of academic and religious organizations. He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Albany-based Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) since 2008 and was President of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a leadership organization that serves all male religious in the United States. For three years he was Liaison between the organization and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy. He served for eight years as a member of the Board of Governors of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY, as well as a member of the Board of Directors of Christ the King Seminary. He has been honored innumerable times for his contributions to civic organizations in western New York, including the Lower Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, the Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, and the Niagara Frontier Council Boy Scouts of America.
Fr. Levesque received his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Joseph's College in Princeton, NJ, and Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, PA. He also holds a Master of Divinity from the latter institution and a Master of Arts from Manhattan College. He earned his Doctor of Sacred Theology (S.T.D.) at The Catholic University of America. Fr. Levesque was ordained as a Vincentian priest in 1967.