President, Saint Louis University
Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D., is the 33rd president of Saint Louis University. The first permanent lay president in the University’s nearly 200-year history, Dr. Pestello officially began his tenure at SLU on July 1, 2014.
As Saint Louis University’s president and chief executive officer, Dr. Pestello leads one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious Catholic universities with more than 13,500 students, 6,700 employees and a $1 billion endowment.
A Roman Catholic, Dr. Pestello is Jesuit-educated and has spent the entirety of his 30-year career in Catholic higher education. A dynamic leader known for moving the institutions he serves forward, he brings extensive leadership experience to his role at Saint Louis University.
Prior to his arrival at Saint Louis, Dr. Pestello was the president of Le Moyne College, a comprehensive Jesuit liberal arts institution in Syracuse, NY. At the time of his appointment in 2008, he became Le Moyne’s first permanent lay president. During his six-year tenure, the college experienced significant growth and progress.
Under Dr. Pestello’s leadership, Le Moyne had the four largest freshman classes in its history, nearly tripled the size of its endowment and pursued a number of campus improvement projects. A capital campaign, which started shortly before his arrival, closed at nearly twice its original goal. On the academic side, the college established a new business school and revised its core curriculum. Le Moyne’s national rankings also rose.
A collaborative, inclusive and transparent leader, Dr. Pestello’s first major undertaking at Le Moyne was a campus-wide initiative called “OneLeMoyne” that led to a new vision statement and strategic plan for the college.
Prior to becoming Le Moyne’s president, Dr. Pestello spent nearly 25 years as a faculty member and provost at the University of Dayton, a Catholic, Marianist research institution in Ohio that is similar in size and scope to Saint Louis University.
At Dayton, Dr. Pestello served as a professor of sociology, chairman of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. As a faculty member, he was thrice elected vice president of Dayton’s academic senate, the highest position a member of the faculty could hold at that time.
In 2001, Dr. Pestello was appointed Dayton’s provost and senior vice president for educational affairs. In that role, he was noted for his emphasis on faculty development and for making academic excellence the centerpiece of the school’s educational processes. He also led a collective effort to draft a vision statement that spawned a new strategic plan for the institution.
In addition to his roles at the university level, Dr. Pestello has served on the board of the American Council on Education’s Commission on Effective Leadership, and he is a member of the Council of Independent Colleges’ board of directors.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Dr. Pestello has three degrees in sociology. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from John Carroll University in 1974; his Master’s degree from the University of Akron in 1981; and his doctoral degree through a joint program of the University of Akron and Kent State University in 1985.
Dr. Pestello’s wife, Frances Pestello, Ph.D., also is a sociologist and scholar, most recently serving as a tenured faculty member in the Department of Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology at Le Moyne College. In 1993, the couple co-authored the award-winning academic tome Sentiments and Acts with Irwin Deutscher.
The Pestellos have two adult children: a daughter, Vitina, and a son, Freddie. Outside of his academic and leadership duties, Dr. Pestello enjoys jazz, theater, bicycling and travel, among many other pursuits.