Dr. Lance Richey inaugurated as University of Saint Francis President

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Dr. Lance Richey was inaugurated as the 11th president of the University of Saint Francis in a ceremony Friday on campus. 

The installation took place at the North Campus Auditorium, 2702 Spring Street. The day’s events also included Mass, a luncheon and a reception.

Dr. Richey, who first began serving at Saint Francis as a Theology professor 13 years ago, became interim president in May 2023 and was appointed president in March by the sponsoring Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. 

“I am beginning what I hope will be a wonderful and grace-filled adventure for us all as the University of Saint Francis asks itself once again what we are called to do as a Catholic, Franciscan university in a world that needs both those attributes more than ever,” Dr. Richey said as part of his address to the faculty, staff, community members and other supporters in attendance. 

In his address, Dr. Richey reflected on the many “seemingly improbable, but in retrospect, surely providential encounters and events that led me here,” from being born in St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, South Carolina, to exploring and eventually embracing the Catholic faith through caring and helpful Franciscan Friars to working with Franciscan Sisters at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee.

“Two of those Sisters—Sister Coletta Dunn and Sister Margaret Klotz—became special mentors to me, showing me what it means to work tirelessly for students and what it means to study and then try to live out the life of St. Francis,” he said. “Both of them challenged me, personally and intellectually, to look to St. Francis and through St. Francis—to him as a model of discipleship and humility, and through him to the Risen Lord whom he served and loved above all else.”

Dr. Richey added, “At a time when the cynicism of academia and the burden of church scandals could have extinguished the flame of faith, these two Sisters rekindled it in me and made me a lover of the Franciscan tradition as a most beautiful way of living it out.”

Dr. Richey expressed how at home he felt from the first time he visited Saint Francis, including the vivid memory of first seeing the Stations of the Cross embedded in the Pope John Paul II Center in the middle of campus.

“When I got to the University of Saint Francis, I saw wonderful things: the Sisters as a visible presence of the faith on campus, keeping alive the evangelical work and Eucharistic spirituality of their foundress, Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel; a talented and welcoming faculty and staff who were excited about working at, and dedicated to, the mission of the university; and a wonderful group of students who needed what the university had to offer, not only intellectually, but spiritually,” Dr. Richey said.

Saint Francis Board of Trustees Chair Richard Poinsatte conducted the installation ceremony, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration provided a musical interlude and Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-Sound Bend, gave the benediction. 

Greetings of congratulations and encouragement were also shared by Poinsatte, Bishop Rhoades, Provincial Superior Sr. Margaret Mary Mitchel of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, Fort Wayne Mayor Sharon Tucker, Independent Colleges of Indiana Vice President and COO Laura Bridges, Saint Francis Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Cliff Buttram, Saint Francis Director of Alumni Relations Tony Didier and Saint Francis Student Government Association President Quin’Shawn “Shawny” Gordon.

Chief Development Officer of Catholic Charities Dr. Matt Smith served as master of ceremonies and Saint Francis Chaplain Dr. Patrick Hake delivered the invocation.

“I have great respect for the University of Saint Francis and the impact being made to prepare citizens and students for meaningful careers,” Mayor Tucker said. “As mayor of the City of Fort Wayne, I pledge to work with Dr. Richey and find opportunities to collaborate and move the community forward.”

Bishop Rhoades shared how the Diocese also looks forward to continued collaboration with Saint Francis.

“Dr. Richey embraces the Christian spirit of service of this university to our community,” Bishop Rhoades said. “And as interim president and earlier, he has been leader in the mission of service to the church and community. Dr. Richey I am grateful for your generous dedication through the years to the University of Saint Francis and I look forward to the future of the university under your leadership. You rightly see leadership as service, modeled after the example of Jesus, the servant and good shepherd.”

Dr. Richey holds the rank of Professor of Theology and has served Saint Francis in several capacities, most recently as vice president for academic affairs from April 2018 to May 2023. Prior to that, Dr. Richey served more than four years as dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He also previously served as director of the John Duns Scotus Honors Program.

Dr. Richey holds doctorates in Philosophy and Religious studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has published widely in both disciplines. He also holds a Certificate of Pre-Theological Studies from Conception Seminary College in Conception, Missouri, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. Prior to joining Saint Francis, Dr. Richey taught at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Conception Seminary College; and Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Dr. Richey and his wife Carol have five children, all of whom have earned or are earning degrees at Saint Francis.

Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences and the College of Arts, Sciences, and Business. In addition to its traditional programs, Saint Francis designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the music technology program while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis, recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution, has 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships. Approximately 1,900 students from a broad geographic region attend Saint Francis.