Skip to main content


Eric F. Spina

Eric F. Spina has served as president of the University of Dayton, a top-tier national Catholic research university, since July 1, 2016.

He has earned a reputation on campus and beyond for his open and collaborative leadership style that led to the development of an imaginative 20-year aspirational strategic vision rooted in the University’s Marianist heritage and the launch of the historic $400 million “We Soar” campaign, UD’s first comprehensive fundraising effort in two decades.

Under his leadership, the University navigated through the greatest public health crisis of our times as it continues to chart a path toward becoming known as “The University for the Common Good.”

An engaged, energetic leader, Dr. Spina has made significant investments in initiatives targeting increased diversity and accessibility, key strategic focal areas of his presidency. From the student body up through the faculty, administrative leadership and Board of Trustees, the University of Dayton has become a more diverse campus as measured across multiple forms of diversity. UD’s undergraduate student body has established new records for size, academic quality, and racial and socioeconomic diversity. In 2023, UD was named an American Talent Initiative (ATI) High-Flier, a group of 28 high-graduation-rate institutions that are national leaders in college access and success for lower-income students.

The University has made significant structural changes to change the racial and socio-economic composition of campus and create an environment where all feel they belong. Initiatives include an 11-step plan for becoming an anti-racist university; a President’s Commission on the Status of Women; and the Flyers Plan for Community Excellence, which guides diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Respectful of the University’s role as an anchor institution in Dayton, Dr. Spina has entered into innovative collaborations that will dramatically shape redevelopment downtown and on the southern edge of the city.

In 2021, the University and The Entrepreneurs’ Center opened the Arcade Innovation Hub, nearly 100,000 square feet devoted to academics, experiential learning and collaborative space for startup companies, as part of the rebirth of the historic Dayton Arcade in the heart of the city. Thanks to a $10.5 million investment from UD and Premier Health and interest from private developers, the former Montgomery County Fairgrounds will be transformed over the next decade or more into a walkable, welcoming urban neighborhood called onMain. Envisioned as a “front porch” for the Dayton community, the 1401 S. Main Street Building houses the Fitz Center for Leadership in Community, the Dayton Foundation and the Dayton Development Coalition. Located adjacent to Emerson's Helix Innovation Center on campus, the two-story academic and office facility is a national model for ways universities can collaborate with a community's regional foundation and economic development arm to promote the common good. In 2023, UD opened a medical facility on Brown Street with Premier Health as the anchor tenant to provide convenient health care services to students, faculty, staff and the greater Dayton community. It also serves as an experiential learning site for students in health majors.

The University continues to build for the future. The Roger Glass Center for the Arts at the corner of Main and Stewart streets, will open its doors during the 2023-24 academic year. Jessie S. Hathcock Hall, named for the first African American woman to graduate from UD, is the newly renovated home for the growing computer science department. The largest construction project in school history — a $76 million transformation of the University of Dayton Arena, funded with significant private support — was completed in fall 2019. The modernization of Roesch Library has made it into an exemplar for digital and collaborative learning. The Adèle Center, a townhouse-style residential building in the heart of the south student neighborhood, opened its doors to students in 2018.

Annual sponsored research has continued its upward momentum and now stands at more than $220 million, a testament to the creativity, innovation and ingenuity fostered in the labs and classrooms.

Private support also has hit record levels as the University nears the $400 million “We Soar” campaign goal and new highs for annual participation and engagement.

Dr. Spina (@DaytonPrez Spina) is the first University of Dayton president to engage with the campus community, alumni and friends through social media — and he’s prolific about it. He’s built a fan base — and a reputation as a compelling storyteller —through tweetsInstagram photos, blogs and LinkedIn articles.

Nationally, he chairs the Atlantic 10 Athletic Conference’s Presidents Council; serves on the steering committee of the American Talent Initiative, a collaborative of universities with high graduation rates that are dedicated to substantially expanding opportunity and access for low- and moderate-income students; and is a member of the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum. He is past-chair of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

In the state, he chairs the board of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio. Locally, he received the 2020 United Way of Dayton’s highest award, the Smith Moore Award. It’s given to those who “go above and beyond to bring about positive outcomes for individuals and families” in the community.

Before taking the leadership helm at the University of Dayton, Dr. Spina developed a stellar reputation for scholarship, teaching and research at Syracuse University, where he served as vice chancellor and provost for nearly nine years of his 28-year tenure.

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, Dr. Spina also served as interim chancellor and president. He retired from Syracuse as a Trustee professor and vice chancellor and provost emeritus.

As a mechanical and aerospace engineer, Dr. Spina has more than 20 years of research experience in experimental fluid mechanics. He has served as principal or co-principal investigator on grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA and EPA.

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 played a leading role in developing university and state initiatives in indoor environmental quality and environmental quality systems at Syracuse, and helped to secure more than $100 million to support this work.

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.

Dr. Spina has also been honored by NASA and the National Science Foundation and received numerous department, college and University teaching awards at Syracuse.

A Roman Catholic and native of Buffalo, New York, Dr. Spina graduated from Canisius High School, a Jesuit school. He earned a Ph.D. 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 and his wife, Karen, have two children, daughter Kaitlyn and son Emery.

(Updated July 2023)


Office of the President

St. Mary's Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1624