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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 quickly 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. Under his leadership, the University is navigating through the greatest public health crisis of our times as it charts a path toward becoming known as “The University for the Common Good.”

An engaged, energetic leader, Dr. Spina has made investments in initiatives targeted toward increasing diversity and accessibility, key strategic focal areas of his presidency. During his tenure, UD’s student body has established new records for size, academic quality, and racial and socioeconomic diversity. Nearly one in five entering first-year students in fall 2022 is from historically underrepresented racial/ ethnic groups. Approximately 17 percent also are eligible for federal Pell Grants, a marker of socioeconomic diversity, and 9 percent of the incoming class are the first in their families to attend college.

The University has made significant structural changes to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive campus during Dr. Spina’s presidency, including an 11-step plan to become an anti-racist university, a President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and the first comprehensive strategic plan. The Flyers Plan for Community Excellence will guide diversity-related efforts through 2024.

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.

The University continues to build for the future. The Roger Glass Center for the Arts at the corner of Main and Stewart streets, is expected to open its doors in 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 $200 million, a testament to the creativity, innovation, and ingenuity fostered in the labs and classrooms.

As the University lays the groundwork for a major campaign, private support has hit record levels, climbing 40 percent in the last five years.

Dr. Spina (@DaytonPrez Spina) is the first University of Dayton president to engage with the campus community, alumni, and friends through the tools of new 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 National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, 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. In the state, he chairs the board of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Ohio.

In 2020, he received the 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 August 2022)



Office of the President

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