Xavier Magazine

Lay President

Robert Gervasi visited Quincy University’s web site, and what he saw looked strangely familiar. The 1,300-student Franciscan school in Quincy, Ill., was just about the same size as Xavier during Gervasi’s undergraduate days. What’s more, Gervasi’s family background included strong Franciscan roots.

Quincy needed a president; Gervasi needed a new challenge. Against that backdrop, perhaps it isn’t surprising that the 1972 graduate recently became the first lay president in Quincy’s 148-year history.
The appointment is just the latest twist in Gervasi’s distinguished career. During his University days, Gervasi wanted to be a classics professor. But he soon “had to face the stark reality that the future of ancient history is limited,” and headed off to earn an MBA.

He returned to Cincinnati, launched his own consulting firm and became executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Consortium of Colleges and Universities. From there, he went on to head Chatfield College; become dean of Kentucky campuses and dean of external programs for McKendree University’s Louisville, Ky., campus; and work as president and CEO of the Indianapolis-based Institute for Study Abroad. He has also been active in the classroom, teaching courses at Xavier, McKendree, the University of Louisville, the University of Zimbabwe and a number of other schools.

But Gervasi never forgot the sense of community at Xavier—a quality he also sees in Quincy. “My new position is an honor, a challenge and a calling. Quincy’s mission statement sounded like it was written for me and about what I want to promote in Catholic intellectual tradition.”

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