Dr. Michael A. Grandillo, Ph.D. assumed the office of president of Madonna University yesterday, making him the first lay president in the university’s 78-year history.
As Madonna’s seventh president, Grandillo succeeds Sister Rose Marie Kujawa at the helm of the 4,500-student, liberal arts university. Over the last two weeks, he has attended conferences and worked closely with Sister Rose Marie to get acclimated. Grandillo and his wife Nancy are hosting a July 4th Open House for Madonna faculty, staff and their families, and an inauguration is planned for October 17.
“It is a distinct pleasure and a high honor to serve as leader of this fine Catholic and Franciscan institution of higher learning,” Grandillo said. “The faculty and staff are stellar and they have welcomed me and Nancy into the Madonna family with genuine enthusiasm and kindness. Together we will continue to deliver the quality liberal arts education and career preparation that students and employers have come to expect.”
Grandillo has more than 35 years of experience in higher education, including academic leadership, recruitment, enrollment management, public relations and advancement at a number of colleges and universities. He’s also served on the city council of Tiffin, Ohio, where he and his wife raised their children, Vincent and Gina. A lifelong Roman Catholic, Grandillo grew up in Dayton, Ohio.
“I am committed to humbly building upon the legacy of excellence and community service developed by the Felician Sisters over the years,” he said. “I was attracted to Madonna’s simple, yet universal, Franciscan values, and I was equally impressed by the rigor and relevance of its undergraduate and graduate degree programs.”
Most recently, Grandillo was a consultant with the Registry for College and University Presidents and served as interim vice president at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he led the Foundation Board, advancement team and public outreach initiatives. Just prior to St. Mary’s, he completed a similar assignment at Bethel College in Indiana.
Prior to his time with the Registry, Grandillo served as president and CEO of Lakeland College in Sheboygan, WI. He served for 17 years as vice president for development and public affairs at Tiffin University, and another nine years as director of development at Heidelberg College. His time in fundraising resulted in five successful capital campaigns, tripling of the endowment at two institutions, and raising more than $80 million dollars.
He began his career in admissions at his alma mater, Ohio Northern University, where he received the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award. During his tenure as associate dean of admissions at Heidelberg, undergraduate enrollment doubled.
With a bachelor’s degree in political science from Ohio Northern University, Grandillo attended the University of Dayton to earn a Master of Science in Education. In 2006, he completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Higher Education and Italian Renaissance History at the University of Toledo.
His research and scholarly interests are in the areas of philanthropic support of education, university history and public policy, and enhancing the collegiate experience for students and student-athletes. He has presented at numerous conferences, shared his time and talent with a number of community service groups, and has enjoyed teaching political science as an adjunct professor.
Madonna has been led by the Felician Sisters since its founding in 1937, and by Sister Rose Marie for the past 14 years. During her tenure, retention improved by eight percent, the University’s first doctoral program (the Doctor of Nursing Practice) was launched, and Madonna became the first independent university in Michigan to be awarded the Community Engagement Classification by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. She led a capital campaign that exceeded its $50 million goal by $6 million, which funded the LEED Gold Franciscan Center, nursing and sign language labs, a new athletic complex, additional undergraduate and graduate academic programs and establishment of the Haiti Educational Leadership Program.