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Siena College Names Former U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson '86, Ph.D. As 12th President

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson ’86 Ph.D.  – scholar, author, and decorated military veteran – has been named the 12th president of Siena College.

Dr. Gibson’s five-year term will begin July 1, and he will be formally inaugurated in a campus ceremony this fall.  

Dr. Gibson’s appointment was approved unanimously by the College’s Board of Trustees in a special session.  

“I am deeply grateful to the Board for the high privilege of serving as Siena’s next president, and I am sincerely humbled to have been appointed as the College’s first permanent lay leader,” said Dr. Gibson, who graduated from Siena in 1986 with a B.A. in history. “Siena played an instrumental role in shaping my values and ideals, and I am forever indebted to the faculty and staff, including the many friars who have been so influential in my life. The connection I developed to the Franciscan tradition as an undergraduate inspired my personal calling to servant leadership. The Franciscan tradition sets Siena apart, and it will inform every decision as I work with the Siena community to advance the legacy of my predecessors and promote the mission of Siena College.”

“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I congratulate Dr. Gibson on his appointment as Siena’s 12th president,” said John F. Murray Jr. ’79, chairman of Siena’s Board of Trustees. “The entire campus community looks forward to working with him to build on the College’s current successes and move strategically into the future. His dedication to liberal arts education and Siena’s Franciscan values, coupled with his leadership experience as an elected member of Congress, military officer, and respected scholar will be tremendous assets as a higher education executive.” 

“Our committee received more than 75 applications from outstanding scholars and higher education executives across the country. This is a testament to the strong academic and financial reputation of our College,” said Thomas J. Baldwin, Jr. ’81, vice chairman of Siena’s Board of Trustees and chairman of the presidential search committee. “We’re delighted to wish Dr. Gibson all the best as he prepares to assume the office of president.”  

The announcement of Dr. Gibson’s appointment and his in-person introduction as Siena’s next president was made today at a gathering in Siena’s Sarazen Student Union with faculty, staff, and students.

Dr. Gibson is currently the Stanley Kaplan Distinguished Visiting Professor of American Foreign Policy at Williams College. He is a member of the Hoover Institution’s Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict, a visiting fellow with the Catholic University’s Center for the Study of Statesmanship, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee of the Bipartisan Review, a project with Cornell University’s Institute of Politics. 

Dr. Gibson served district NY-19 in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011-2017. He finished first among all House representatives of both political parties in the inaugural report of the Lugar Policy Center Bipartisan Index in 2014, and served as one of the co-chairs of the bi-partisan caucus “No Labels.” 

He is the author of two books, including his most recent work Rally Point: Five Tasks to Unite the Country and Revitalize the American Dream. He is a 29-year decorated military veteran who rose to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army. He commanded the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade, leading them to Haiti on a humanitarian relief operation after the 2010 earthquake. He served four combat tours in Iraq and was part of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. 

In addition to his history degree from Siena, Dr. Gibson holds an M.A., M.P.A. and Ph.D. in government, all from Cornell University. He resides in Kinderhook, N.Y. with his wife, Mary Jo, and their three children.

He succeeds Margaret E. Madden, Ph.D. who has been serving as interim president since the 2019 death of Siena’s 11th president, Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D. Dr. Madden will continue her service to the College in a leadership role.  

“I thank Dr. Madden for her strong, steady, and compassionate leadership in these challenging times as our institution remembers the unimaginable loss and exceptional tenure of beloved Br. Ed,” said Dr. Gibson. “I take inspiration in their servant-leadership example and look forward to working with our entire community as we serve our students and take Siena to new heights in the years to come.”

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