The Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., is president of DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university and the largest private university in the Midwest, and chairman of Ascension,
the nation’s largest Catholic and non-profit health system.
He also serves on the boards of the American Council on Education (ACE),
the Chicago History Museum
and the steering committee of the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition.
Father Holtschneider became DePaul’s 11th president on July 1, 2004 and oversees a $566 million budget, 23,110 students and 931 full-time faculty on four Chicago and suburban campuses. He has led DePaul through two successful strategic plans that saw the broadening of DePaul’s national applications, the rise in its graduation and retention rates, the extensive expansion and improvement of its facilities, and the development of 178
new programs including the creation of new colleges and schools of Science and Health, Communication, Cinematic Arts, Hospitality Leadership and Digital Design.
U.S. News and World report noticed DePaul’s strategic redesign in 2015-16, naming DePaul as among the nation’s “Most Innovative Universities.”
To sustain the university's founding commitment to first-generation students, about $460 million in philanthropic support has been raised during Father Holtschneider’s tenure. This includes completion of the "Many Dreams, One Mission"
capital campaign, which raised $333 million, the largest portion of which was allocated for student scholarships to ensure access to high quality education for future generations of DePaul students.
Fr. Holtschneider joined the board of Ascension Health in 2009 and moved to the parent board of Ascension in 2012, where he chaired the audit committee for the $22 billion health care organization consisting of the health care system and an array of health-related businesses. He also served on the Finance Committee, Executive Compensation Committee, Governance Task Force, the Steering Committee for the Ascension Leadership Academy and chaired the Model Community Committee.
A Detroit native, he studied at Harvard University and received his doctorate in administration, planning and social policy in 1997 after writing a dissertation on the early history of financial aid in the United States. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Niagara University in 1985, studied for the priesthood at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, Pa., and was ordained in 1989.
Father Holtschneider was an administrator with St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., from 1996 to 1999, first as assistant dean of Notre Dame College and later as associate dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Concurrently, he served as an assistant professor of higher education in St. John’s Graduate School of Education. He served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at his alma mater, Niagara University in Niagara Falls, N.Y., from 2000 to 2004, where he directed the university’s strategic planning efforts and daily operations.
Father Holtschneider led two national studies examining trends in governance and leadership in American Catholic colleges and universities. He is the author of one book and numerous articles on U.S. higher education and Catholic higher education, as well as a frequent consultant and speaker on these topics.
He is a professor of education at DePaul and a faculty member in the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Management Development Program where he teaches strategy, and where, during the fall 2014 semester, he served as Visiting Scholar and President-in-Residence. He also is a faculty member at Boston College’s Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education.
Father Holtschneider has been honored widely for his work on a variety of issues, including being listed as one of Diversity MBA Magazine’s Top 100 under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders
(2012). He received the ACE Council of Fellows Mentor Award in 2015, recognizing his guidance in preparing the next generation of academic leaders in higher education. He also holds honorary doctoral degrees from Adamson University, Manila; College of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey; Marywood University, Pennsylvania;
Niagara University, New York; Soka University, Tokyo; St. Thomas Aquinas College, New York; and received the Vincentian Charism Award from All Hallows College in Dublin. In 2011, he was honored by the Archdiocese of Chicago with its "Strangers No Longer Award" for his leadership on comprehensive immigration reform.