The University of San Francisco, with more than 10,000 students and 2,100 employees, hired a new president on Tuesday who says he plans to strengthen connections between the Jesuit school and Silicon Valley.
Father Paul J. Fitzgerald is senior vice president for academic affairs at Fairfield University in Connecticut. But he has Bay Area ties, having grown up in Los Gatos and having spent 12 years at Santa Clara University, where he was associate dean and senior associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. He was also ordained at St. Ignatius Church on the USF campus in 1992.
“President-elect Fitzgerald stood out among an exceptional pool of applicants,” said Chuck Smith, vice chairman of the USF Board of Trustees, which led the national search for a successor to Father Stephen Privett, who steps down next summer after 14 years as president.
Smith praised Fitzgerald’s respect for technology, his expertise in higher education and his dedication to the university’s Jesuit mission and identity.
Fitzgerald speaks German, French and Spanish. He has taught in China and Kenya, and he earned a doctorate in the sociology of religion at the Sorbonne in Paris. While in Paris, he earned a pontifical doctorate in ecclesiology from the Institut Catholique de Paris.
Although Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening, a statement from USF said the new president “plans to invest personal time and energy engaging the Bay Area’s burgeoning technology community. Fr. Fitzgerald understands that the Silicon Valley is moving north and that (San Francisco) is a vibrant center for startups, venture capital and related industries.”
Fitzgerald will begin his job on Aug. 1.