LOUDONVILLE — Former U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson on Friday was appointed the 12th president of Siena College.
The college’s Board of Trustees approved the appointment by a unanimous vote in a special session Friday. Gibson’s five-year term begins July 1.
Gibson, 55, lives in Kinderhook, and is the first Siena College president who is not a member of the clergy. His appointment was announced at the college’s Sarazen Student Union on Friday.
“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,” Gibson said.
Gibson, a U.S. Army veteran, is a former congressman who represented the 20th Congressional District from 2011-13, and the 19th Congressional District from 2013-2017. In 2016 he launched an exploratory committee as he considered making a bid for New York state governor, but later that year opted not to run. He retired from Congress to return to academia.
In February 2017, Gibson began serving as a visiting professor of American Foreign Policy at Williams College, in Massachusetts, and will now take the reins as president of Siena College, where he received his bachelor’s degree in history in 1986.
The school played an important role in his development, Gibson said.
“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,” Gibson said. “The connection I developed to the Franciscan tradition as an undergraduate inspired my personal calling to servant leadership.”
Gibson succeeds former college president Brother F. Edward Coughlin, who died July 30 from a massive stroke he suffered during a non-emergency cardiac procedure for a congenital heart defect.
The college has been searching for a replacement since Coughlin’s death and received more than 75 applications for the job, said Thomas J. Baldwin Jr., vice chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees and chairman of the presidential search committee. Margaret E. Madden served as interim president until Gibson’s appointment Friday.
Siena College Board of Trustees Chairman John F. Murray welcomed Gibson to the post.
“The entire campus community looks forward to working with him to build on the college’s current successes and move strategically into the future,” Murray said. “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.”
Siena College was founded by seven Franciscan friars in 1937.
In addition to his work in Congress and as a visiting professor, Gibson served in the U.S. Army for 29 years, attaining the rank of colonel, and was deployed seven times, including four combat tours in Iraq and a peacekeeping mission to Kosovo
Gibson participated in the humanitarian relief mission in Haiti in 2010, when the country was devastated by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that killed 300,000 people. He is the author of two books and has two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in government from Cornell University. His latest book, “Rally Point: Five Tasks to Unite the Country and Revitalize the American Dream,” was published in 2017.