Eric F. Spina, Ph.D., 19th president of the University of Dayton, has developed a stellar reputation for scholarship, teaching and research and has gained both depth and breadth of experience in top-tier, higher education leadership.
Dr. Spina was unanimously selected by the board of trustees in September, 2015, and took office July 1, 2016.
He comes to the University of Dayton following a distinguished, 28-year career at Syracuse University, a private national research university with a total enrollment of more than 21,000 students. At Syracuse, Dr. Spina was responsible for all aspects of its academic and research mission, serving as vice chancellor and provost for nearly nine years.
His responsibilities included oversight of 11 colleges, enrollment management and student retention, international programs, information technology, and corporate and foundation relations. As vice chancellor, he also was deeply involved in major gift fundraising; alumni, government and community relations; integration of student affairs with academic affairs; budget and planning; athletics and more.
When Dr. Spina stepped down as vice chancellor in December 2014 to pursue his longtime goal of becoming a university president, he was appointed Trustee Professor and vice chancellor and provost emeritus.
A Roman Catholic and native of Buffalo, New York, Dr. Spina has 12 years of Catholic education, and graduated from Canisius High School, the Jesuit institution in Buffalo.
He earned doctor's and master's degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University and a bachelor's degree with university honors in mechanical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
He began his career at Syracuse as a faculty member in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, earned tenure and was named chair of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Manufacturing Engineering. In 2003, he was appointed the Douglas D. Danforth dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, a position he held until his appointment as interim vice chancellor and provost in July 2006 and vice chancellor and provost in 2007. In 2013, Spina also served as interim chancellor and president.
As a mechanical and aerospace engineer, Dr. Spina has more than 20 years of research experience in experimental fluid mechanics, ranging from the fundamentals of simple canonical flows to flow control methods.
He has served as principal or co-principal investigator on grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and EPA, including NSF research awards and several projects that have resulted in innovative educational partnerships with industry.
He holds two U.S. patents, has published more than 30 refereed archival and conference papers, and has edited books and conference proceedings. His most important work is on the physics of high-speed turbulent boundary layers, which culminated in a paper in the Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics.
Dr. Spina also had a leading role in developing university and state initiatives in indoor environmental quality and environmental quality systems. He was deputy director of the Environmental Quality Systems Center at Syracuse, and served on the board of the Center of Excellence in Environmental and Energy Systems.
In recognition of his work, Syracuse awarded Dr. Spina one of its highest honors — the Chancellor’s Citation for Outstanding Contribution to the University’s Academic Programs. Spina has also been honored by NASA and the National Science Foundation and has received numerous department, college and University teaching awards.
He and his wife, Karen, have two children, daughter Kaitlyn and son Emery.