SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Dennis DePerro — the 21st president of St. Bonaventure University and a former VP at Le Moyne College — died early Monday in Syracuse from complications from COVID-19 at the age of 62.
Prior to becoming president at St. Bonaventure, DePerro served as VP for enrollment management at Le Moyne for 18 years.
In 2013, he became the inaugural dean of Le Moyne’s Purcell School of Graduate and Professional Studies. He also served as a professor of management in the Madden School of Business.
“The Le Moyne College community joins with others in mourning this tremendous loss,” Le Moyne President Linda LeMura said in a statement. “Dennis worked so hard for St. Bonaventure and had accomplished so much in such a short period of time. He was beloved and touched so many lives at Le Moyne and kept in touch with many members of our campus community. He was a wonderful colleague, friend and confidant, and I will miss his one-of-a-kind sense of humor. Our prayers and sincere condolences go out to his wife Sherry, and sons Matthew and Andrew. He will be deeply missed.”
DePerro had tested positive for the coronavirus on Christmas Eve and was hospitalized in Syracuse on Dec. 29. He had been placed on a ventilator in mid-January.
He assumed the presidency at St. Bonaventure on June 1, 2017. In less than four years, DePerro oversaw the school welcoming the three largest incoming freshman classes in the last 11 years.
He implemented new enrollment and marketing strategies and “championed” new academic program development. Under his watch, St. Bonaventure’s online graduate initiative grew 329 percent in enrollment since fall 2017.
“Words simply can’t convey the level of devastation our campus community feels right now,” Joseph Zimmer, provost and VP for academic affairs at St. Bonaventure, said. “I know when people die it’s become cliché to say things like, ‘He was a great leader, but an even better human being,’ and yet, that’s the absolute truth with Dennis. We are heartbroken.”
Zimmer was named acting president late last month while DePerro was in recovery.
The university flag will fly at half-staff on the St. Bonaventure campus in his honor through the end of March.
A Buffalo native, DePerro spent his entire 39-year career in college administration. He worked for eight years (1982-1990) in admissions and alumni relations at his alma mater Canisius College. He would then spend the next five years (1990-1995) as dean of admission and financial aid at Marietta College in Ohio, before joining the Le Moyne administration in 1995.