After an eight-month search, Molloy College has found a new president. At the end of this school year, Dr. James Lentini, senior vice president for academic affairs and Provost at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., will take on the position, becoming the college’s seventh president, effective July 1, 2020.
“I feel that I have landed at home in a place that connects so deeply with my own beliefs and passions,” Lentini said. “I was looking for the next opportunity in my life, and this is the natural culmination of the next step for me.”
John P. McEntee, chairman of Molloy’s board of trustees, announced his appointment at a news conference on Tuesday. “Eleven months ago, President Drew Bogner told me of his intention to retire in June 2020,” McEntee said. “It was not welcome news. But it set in motion a series of events that has led to today’s announcement.”
McEntee said that a 13-member search committee “worked to identify the qualities and capabilities” they want in the next president, ensured they attracted “a strong, diverse group of candidates” and then “rigorously evaluated” those candidates for final consideration by the board of trustees. The board then determined unanimously that Lentini was the best person for the job.
“Dr. Lentini is a passionate and thoughtful leader with a proven track record of success in academic program development,” McEntee said. “He is committed to embracing our Catholic and Dominican traditions of study, service, spirituality and community values. His experience in inspiring, leading and sustaining transformational change will allow Molloy to build on the distinguished service and visionary leadership of Dr. Bogner.”
Lentini has been at Oakland University since 2013. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Creative Arts at Miami University of Ohio from 2007 to 2013. He was the founding dean of the School of Art, Media and Music at The College of New Jersey from 2003 to 2007 and served on the faculty and administration in the Department of Music at Wayne State University from 1988 to 2003.
A Detroit native, Lentini received a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Southern California, a master of music degree from Michigan State University, and a bachelor of music degree from Wayne State University. He also completed the Management in Leadership in Education program at Harvard University.
As senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at Oakland University, he worked closely with deans and faculty in overseeing the development of new and innovative academic programs, including a newly formed School of Music, Theatre and Dance and the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, which graduated its charter class in 2015. He led the reorganization of the Office of Research, overseeing academic and research developments that led to the elevation of the university’s Carnegie Classification from R3 to R2 category (Doctoral University – High Research Activity).
“Dr. Lentini’s 30-plus years of experience in higher education — in a wide variety of areas that include strategic planning, academic program development, enrollment management and more — will ensure a smooth transition in Molloy’s leadership and help us continue on the path of unprecedented growth that we have enjoyed during the 20 years of Dr. Bogner’s presidency,” said Dan Henry, chair of Molloy’s Presidential Search Committee.
An internationally recognized composer and classical guitarist, Lentini is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences Grammy awards and is a recipient of, among other musical honors, the Andres Segovia International Composition Prize. His compositions have been performed and recorded by national and international ensembles, and Gramophone magazine called him “an American classical music success story.”
“I’m humbled and honored to be the unanimous choice to be the next president,” Lentini said. “There’s no denying I have big shoes to fill — Dr. Drew Bogner has done an amazing job.”
Lentini said that Bogner had been gracious and accommodating, and said Lentini could count on him during the transition process.
“I think of this like a draft pick,” Bog-ner said, “because this is the number one candidate out there.”
Lentini and his wife, Dana, have two sons, Luke and Noah, and a daughter, Evalina, who are all artistic. He said that moving to New York would be a natural fit for their family.
Once he takes over, Lentini said, “I will immediately engage in an expansive listening tour. By hearing the voices of students, faculty, administration, staff, alumni, donors and friends, I will build a collaborative picture of the needs and desires of the Molloy Community.”
Some of his initial ideas include updating the college’s strategic plan, expanding resources for program growth, increasing fundraising and expanding corporate partnerships.
Stacy Zachariah, president of the Molloy Student Government, said she was looking forward to working with Lentini.
“Our students are ecstatic to see how he will grow Molloy further into this new decade,” Zachariah said. “His abilities and talents as a renowned musician will help bring more appreciation for the arts to the college.”