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COVID affecting Bona leader; acting president named

Dr. Dennis DePerro, president of St. Bonaventure University, continues his fight against COVID-19.

Dr. DePerro was admitted to a Syracuse hospital Dec. 29 after testing positive for the coronavirus on Christmas Eve. He has been placed on a ventilator and is in serious but stable condition.

“I know I speak for everyone in the Bonaventure family when I offer prayers for healing and strength to Dr. DePerro and his family at this difficult time,” said John Sheehan, chair of SBU’s Board of Trustees.

To allow Dr. DePerro the opportunity to focus completely on his health and making a full recovery, the Board of Trustees has named Dr. Joseph Zimmer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, as acting president.

“Dr. Zimmer will be acting on behalf of the president until he is able to return,” Sheehan said. “It’s important that we have, during Dr. DePerro’s absence, a leader overseeing the business of the university. The Board of Trustees has complete confidence in Dr. Zimmer.”

Dr. Anne Foerst, chair of the Faculty Senate, spoke with Sheehan in advance of Zimmer being named acting president.

“Dr. DePerro is in the thoughts and prayers of the entire university community, including the faculty, and we look forward to him making a full recovery,” Foerst said. “The Faculty Senate has and will continue to work constructively and productively with Dr. Zimmer, for the benefit of the university and its students.”

Zimmer said he appreciates the Board and Faculty Senate’s confidence in him.

“Until Dr. DePerro is healthy again, my role now – in collaboration with our senior management team and faculty leaders – is simply to keep us moving forward in the positive direction we have been headed since Dennis came on board as president in 2017,” Zimmer said.

“With COVID-19 still consuming our thoughts and plans this semester, and the president working hard to recover, I’m asking every member of the Bonaventure community to support each other during this challenging time and to continue to keep our students’ needs at the forefront of everything we do – and, of course, to keep Dr. DePerro in your prayers.”

Cards for Dr. DePerro can be sent to the President’s Office and they will be collected and sent to him. His family deeply appreciates the outpouring of prayers and support, but requests privacy beyond that and will not at this time be able to reply to anyone seeking additional information.

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