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Dr. Fred Pestello became the 33rd President of Saint Louis University in 2014. He is the first permanent lay president of Saint Louis University since its founding in 1818, and is proud to have spent more than 35 years in Catholic higher education.

president pestello at window
As president, Dr. Pestello oversees one of the nation’s leading Jesuit research universities with nearly 13,000 students, more than 7,000 employees, an annual operating budget of more than $975 million and an endowment of $1.3 billion. 

Dr. Pestello has galvanized the University community around a campus-wide effort to establish a new vision to be a global Jesuit university that is mission-focused, student and patient-centered, and research-driven, and is working with the people of St. Louis to reimagine, transform and unify our city. 

Under his leadership, SLU has created a comprehensive research strategy and areas of national eminence, developed the first university-wide core curriculum, opened two new residence halls, built a 90,000 square-foot Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, established a new doctors’ office building, formed a historic partnership with leading Catholic health care provider, SSM Health, which includes construction of a new, $550 million hospital and outpatient care center opening this fall, and strengthened our longstanding commitment to diversity and community engagement through the development and consistent focus on the Clock Tower Accords. 

During Dr. Pestello’s tenure, the University has experienced its two most successful fundraising years in its more than 200-year history for a combined total of over $220 million and has raised $400 million on the campaign goal of $500 million. This includes the largest gift in SLU history, $50 million dollars from Dr. Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield. 

As a graduate of a Jesuit University himself, Dr. Pestello understands firsthand the promise of an education guided by the Society of Jesus and its rigorous, justice-oriented, educational mission. 

Pestello currently serves on the board of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and is a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. In St. Louis, he serves on the boards of Civic Progress, the Cortex Innovation Community and Bi-State Development. He is also a founding member of the board of the Foundation for the Pontifical Institute of Theology at Posillipo in Italy. 

Pestello is the only person to be elected as the first lay president of two U.S. Jesuit institutions. He joined SLU after serving six years as president of Le Moyne College, achieving record-breaking levels of enrollment, endowment and campus construction. Prior to that appointment, Pestello was faculty member, department chair, associate dean and provost and senior vice president for educational affairs during his 25-year career at the University of Dayton. 

Pestello earned his bachelor’s degree at John Carroll University and completed his graduate work in sociology at the University of Akron.

selected presidential messages
Selected Published Commentaries and Reflections 
selected presidential REMARKS

President’s Cabinet

Dr. Pestello has a cabinet comprised of senior administrators who report directly to him and who advise him on important University matters. Members of the cabinet also work closely with trustees, deans and other vice presidents to advance SLU’s strategic priorities. Members are:

  • Jeff Fowler, Vice President for Marketing and Communications
  • Michael Lewis, Interim Provost
  • David Heimburger, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • William Kauffman, Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary of the University and Chief of Staff
  • Sheila Manion, Vice President for Development
  • Debie Lohe, Interim Vice President for Student Development
  • Robert Wilmott, Vice President for Medical Affairs and School of Medicine Dean

Presidential Councils

The University Leadership Council (ULC) is responsible for reviewing and approving all University policies and providing input on other important University matters. The group is comprised of senior administrators, academic deans, and the leaders of the Faculty Senate, Staff Advisory Committee and Student Government Association.

University Leadership Council Members
  • Thomas E. Burroughs, Ph.D., Dean of the College for Public Health and Social Justice
  • David Cassens, Dean of Libraries
  • Tracy A. Chapman, Ph.D., Dean of the School for Professional Studies
  • Kyle Collins, Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer
  • Kathleen B. Davis, Vice President for Enrollment and Retention Management
  • Scott Duellman, Ph.D., Interim Dean of the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business
  • Ruth Evans, Ph. D., President of the Faculty Senate
  • Jessica M. Evenson, Vice President for University Compliance and Ethics
  • Jeff Fowler, Vice President for Marketing and Communications
  • Michael Lewis, Ph.D., Interim Provost 
  • David Heimburger, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • William R. Kauffman, J.D., Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary of the University and Chief of Staff
  • William P. Johnson, J.D., Dean of the School of Law
  • Donna LaVoie, Ph.D., Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences
  • Michael Lucido, Vice President for Facilities Services
  • Michael Luna, Vice President for Human Resources
  • Sheila Manion, Vice President for University Development
  • Chris May, Director of Athletics
  • Danny G. Willis, DNS, R.N., FAAN, Dean of the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing
  • Kenneth Olliff, Vice President for Research
  • Debie Lohe, Ph.D., Interim Vice President for Student Development
  • William R. Rehg, S.J., Ph.D., Dean of the College of Philosophy and Letters
  • Joseph Reznikov, President of the Student Government Association
  • Gary Ritter, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Education
  • Michelle Sabick, Ph.D., Dean of Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
  • Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement
  • Sue Stevens, Chair of the Staff Advisory Committee
  • David Suwalsky, S.J., Vice President for Mission and Identity
  • Paul Vita, Ph.D., Director and Dean of SLU-Madrid
  • Robert Wilmott, M.D., Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the School of Medicine and 
  • Mardell Wilson, Ed.D., Dean of the Doisy College of Health Science

The President’s Advisory Council (PAC) is a 100-­member body that is charged with representing the interests of faculty, staff and students in major University decisions. The group is comprised of all vice presidents and deans, the executive leadership of the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association, the chairs of the college and school faculty councils, and a number of staff and administrative leaders.

Mission and Diversity Offices

At SLU, the Office of Mission and Identity and the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement report directly to the president.

As Vice President for Mission and Identity David Suwalsky, S.J.,  provides executive-­level leadership for fostering and promoting SLU’s Catholic, Jesuit identity. He also works to ensure that SLU’s mission and core values — as well as the principles and traditions of Catholic, Jesuit higher education — are fully integrated into everything the University does.

As chief diversity officer, Jonathan Smith, Ph.D., vice president for diversity and community engagement, leads efforts to make Saint Louis University more inclusive and welcoming to diverse populations. He works to increase SLU’s outreach to the St. Louis community and access to a SLU education to young people from the region’s most disadvantaged areas.