St. John’s University’s board of trustees has announced that Reverend Joseph Levesque will replace Father Donald Harrington as the school’s interim president, closing the chapter on the corruption that shook the institution.
Levesque will become the head of the university effective August 1 and guide the school before the upcoming school year as the board searches for a permanent replacement in the next few months.
“We are confident of a seamless transition as Father Harrington steps down as president at the end of this month, and know that, over the coming academic year, Father Levesque will continue to build on his outstanding record of accomplishment,” said Peter D’Angelo, chairman of the board.
Levesque, the former president of Niagara University, has a long relationship with St. John’s, where he was chair of the board in the 1990s. During the same period, Levesque was elected provincial superior of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, a group for Vincentian priests.
Levesque was born in North Tarrytown, NY, and ordained as a Vincentian priest in 1967 after studying at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Pennsylvania. He taught religious studies at St. John’s Prep in Brooklyn and St. Joseph’s Seminary in New Jersey before becoming a lecturer in the religious studies department in Niagara in 1970.
Levesque holds a doctoral degree in theology from the Catholic University of America and honorary degrees from Niagara and St. John’s Universities, two of the three Vincentian universities in the United States.
As president of Niagara since 2000, he oversaw a $100 million investment in new construction, renovation and improvement projects to the 160-acre campus.
Harrington announced he would step down as the head of St. John’s in May following immense media pressure over gifts he received from former dean Cecilia Chang, who was facing charges of embezzling $1 million from the school. Chang ultimately committed suicide before the end of her trial, increasing the attention on Harrington and his chief of staff, Robert Wile, who also resigned.