Dr. Eric F. Spina – President
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 charting 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 grown in size, become more racially and economically diverse, and increased in academic quality.
Respectful of the University’s role as an anchor institution in Dayton, Dr. Spina has entered into three innovative collaborations that will dramatically shape redevelopment downtown and on the southern edge of the city.
In 2019, the University and The Entrepreneurs Center partnered to begin development of the Arcade Innovation Hub, nearly 96,000 square feet devoted to academics, experiential learning, and co-shared space 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 newly constructed 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 envisioned as 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 largest construction project in school history—a $72 million transformation of the University of Dayton Arena, funded with significant private support—celebrated its completion in fall 2019. The modernization of Roesch Library has made it in to 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. By the end of 2020, the Music/Theatre Building is expected to be renovated for the growing computer science department.
In the academic arena, the University partnered with 2U, one of the foremost education technology companies in the U.S., to create online graduate programs in business, education, and law that are extending UD’s reach in new markets. Law@Dayton is one of the nation’s first accredited hybrid Juris Doctor programs in the country.
Annual sponsored research has continued its upward momentum to a record $166 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, with more than $40 million in new commitments each of the last three fiscal years.
Dr. 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 tweets, Instagram photos, blogs, and LinkedIn articles.
Nationally, he 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. He is a member of the NCAA Presidential Forum and serves on the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
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.
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.
A Roman Catholic and native of Buffalo, New York, Dr. Spina graduated from Canisius High School, a Jesuit school. He earned a PhD 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.