Franklin Pierce University names Dr. James Birge as new president

April 7, 2009

Dr. James Birge
Dr. James Birge has been named president of Franklin Pierce University, succeeding Dr. George J. Hagerty who is retiring following 14 years of leadership.

RINDGE, NH - The Chairman of the Franklin Pierce University Board of Trustees, Dr. Zeddie Bowen, announced that Dr. James Birge has been elected as the university's fourth president. Dr. Birge was recommended by the search committee composed of members of the faculty, staff and board of trustees, and included the president of the student body, and the president of the Alumni Association Executive Committee.

The decision was announced to the Franklin Pierce University community Monday, concluding a national presidential search that began in September after Dr. George J. Hagerty announced that he would retire in June following 14 years of leadership.

Dr. Birge most recently served as the Executive Vice President - Chief Operating Officer at Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he also served as Interim President from 2006 to 2007. In addition to overseeing academic affairs, Dr. Birge managed the strategic planning process, implemented an enrollment management model for stabilizing and growing enrollment, and implemented the restructuring of the university's long-term debt.

Prior to arriving at Wheeling Jesuit, Dr. Birge served as Executive Director of Pennsylvania Campus Compact and was Coordinator for Service Learning at Regis University in Denver, Colorado.

Dr. Birge holds a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University, an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, and a B.S. in Elementary Education from Westfield State College in Massachusetts. His dissertation topic was "Academic Presidents as Public Leaders."

"The board was impressed with Dr. Birge's potential to bring strong and collegial leadership to the university in this time of national economic stress," said Dr. Bowen. "Dr. Birge also has a strong commitment to mission-driven programs like our Individual and Community curriculum, our goal to graduate Leaders of Conscience and the role our three academic institutes can play in creating a strong sense of community responsibility."

The board was impressed with Dr. Birge's potential to bring strong and collegial leadership to the university...

— Dr. Zeddie Bowen, Chair, Franklin Pierce Board of Trustees

Dr. Maria Garcia, Associate Professor in the university's College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS), stated, "Dr. Birge's strategic acumen and participative leadership style will be an asset to CGPS. He's a collector of ideas, an excellent communicator, and is not afraid to take action."

"When the committee interviewed Dr. Birge, we were impressed with how carefully he had studied Franklin Pierce University. His response to every question was thoughtful and eloquent," said Dr. Molly Haas, Assistant Professor of Writing in the university's undergraduate College at Rindge.

Dr. Birge succeeds Dr. George J. Hagerty, who is retiring in June after serving a very successful 14 years as president.