DeSales University's board of trustees elected Philadelphia-area Rev. James J. Greenfield as president, the university announced.
Greenfield, who was elected Thursday, will be the university’s fourth president and its first alumnus to serve as president.
DeSales University is a four-year private university in Center Valley. It has an enrollment of 1,681 full-time undergraduates and about 1,500 graduate and evening students.
Greenfield succeeds the Rev. Bernard F. O’Connor, president since 1999, who will retire.
Greenfield’s tenure will begin Jan. 1, 2018, the university said.
Gerard J. Joyce, vice president of student life at DeSales, will serve as interim president.
Greenfield is provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia Province of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, where he leads 145 priest, brothers and seminarians who serve along the East Coast. As provincial, he directed all human resource and development programs for the Oblates on matters of identity, mission and trends of vocations and religious life, according to a news release.
“The trustees are pleased to announce this appointment of Father Greenfield,” W. Douglas Brown, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, said in a statement.
“Father Greenfield has been a member of the board at DeSales for nearly 15 years, so he is well known to them and the greater DeSales community. The board of trustees is grateful to Father O’Connor for his vision and dedicated leadership of the university during the past 18 years,” Brown said.
Also in a statement, Greenfield said he was honored to follow O’Connor.
“I am esteemed by the trust of the board to be chosen as president,” Greenfield said. “[O’Connor’s] leadership has strengthened the university’s mission greatly, and I look forward to continuing his legacy of a Salesian community of learning that advances the spirit of St. Francis de Sales, our patron.”
Greenfield previously was an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University, Catholic University and the former Washington Theological Union.
Greenfield is chairman of the board at Salesianum School and on the board at Nativity Preparatory School, both in Wilmington, Del. He is a trustee of Father Judge High School and Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, both in Philadelphia.
He was president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, where he represented the nation’s 17,000 priests and brothers who are members of religious orders.
Greenfield earned his bachelor’s degree in politics at DeSales University in 1984; a master of divinity degree at the DeSales School of Theology in 1990; a master’s degree in counseling in 1992; and a doctoral degree in human development in 1998, the latter two at George Washington University.
He is a certified pastoral counselor and author of a number of articles on religious life, lifelong faith formation and the intersection of spirituality and human development.