Ohio Dominican University’s (ODU’s) Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Michael A. Grandillo to serve as interim president during its meeting on Dec. 1. He succeeds Connie Gallaher who will retire in December 2023 following the completion of the fall semester. Grandillo will begin his service at ODU on Dec. 6 as president-designate, and will assume the presidency on Dec. 16, 2023.
Grandillo brings over 43 years of higher education experience to Ohio Dominican, having most recently served as president of Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan from 2015 until his retirement in 2022. Currently, he leads a consulting firm specializing in higher education, government and public policy.
At Madonna University, Grandillo led a financial and academic transformation that erased a multi-million-dollar operations deficit while transforming the university from a largely commuter to residential campus in seven years with the funding and building of three new residential halls. Madonna’s endowment increased 20%, surpassing $54 million. He also secured the largest individual contribution in the university’s history. In a six-year period, three of the entering classes were the largest in Madonna University history.
The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaffirmed Madonna’s accreditation until 2028. In its summary report, the HLC praised the institution for its exceptional commitment to its mission and values, sound fiscal management, strong strategic initiatives, and leadership in fully online programs. During his presidency, Grandillo established more than 20 new academic programs, including one at the doctoral level. He launched 11 new athletic teams, celebrated two national championships and several conference championships.
Madonna’s campus increased by 26 acres under his leadership with the transformation of a former high school campus into a performing arts, athletic and academic center, including a new basketball and volleyball arena. A successful capital campaign allowed for the construction of a 28,000 square-foot, $12.4 million Welcome Center. Renovation and technical upgrades of the dining hall and library also were completed.
Prior to his time at Madonna, Grandillo served as president of Lakeland College in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He also spent 17 years as vice president for development and public affairs at Tiffin University and nine years as director of development at Heidelberg University.
A gifted fundraiser, he has overseen seven successful capital campaigns at five universities; tripled the endowment at two institutions and funded the construction of 15 new collegiate buildings in his career.
Grandillo is familiar with ODU as he provided consulting insights to the university’s leadership and trustees in 2022.
“Ohio Dominican University’s Board of Trustees engaged a number of qualified and talented professionals to serve the university in this interim role, and we are highly confident that Dr. Grandillo is the right individual to lead Ohio Dominican at this critical time in its history,” said Fred Takavitz, chair of the Board of Trustees. “In reviewing Dr. Grandillo’s vast experience in higher education and his professional accomplishments, particularly in helping organizations achieve growth in enrollment and fundraising, the trustees felt he would be an ideal fit for the role. We believe he is uniquely qualified to help ODU overcome challenges facing private higher education so it can continue to provide students with an outstanding education for another century or more. I look forward to students, faculty, staff and alumni having a chance to meet Dr. Grandillo in the weeks and months ahead. On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation to President Gallaher for her leadership over the past two and a half years, which has helped stabilize ODU and position it for growth going forward.”
“I am humbled and honored to be named interim president of Ohio Dominican University, an institution I have long admired,” Grandillo said. “At no time in its storied 112-year history is an ODU education more needed. We all stand on the shoulders of the Dominican Sisters of Peace who ask us to seek Truth and serve God, and we will do this by providing access and opportunity to all who walk through our doors. An ODU education changes lives.”
“I look forward to members of the Ohio Dominican University community and the Dominican Sisters of Peace having an opportunity to welcome Dr. Grandillo as he begins this new chapter in ODU’s history,” said Sr. Patricia Twohill, OP, Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, ODU’s founding congregation, and search committee member. “His impressive background in higher education, combined with his personal dedication to advancing our faith-based mission, gives me great hope that under his leadership, Ohio Dominican will flourish in a way that aligns with the opportunities of tomorrow.”
In addition to executive leadership, Grandillo has experience teaching in the classroom, holding academic rank as a professor of Political Science and History at Madonna, an adjunct member of the graduate faculty at the University of Toledo, and as an adjunct professor of Political Science at Tiffin University.
Grandillo earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Ohio Northern University, a Master of Science in Education from the University of Dayton, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education and Italian Renaissance History from the University of Toledo.
A published historian, Grandillo’s research and scholarly interests lie in the denominational movement in higher education, the Italian Renaissance and the American Presidency. He has authored numerous articles and presentations related to student success, veterans’ affairs, admissions policies and development. In 2010 he published the definitive institutional history of Tiffin University, “Onward to the Dawn.”
He has received numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Detroit’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, one of Northwest Ohio’s top young leaders (Twenty Under 40), a White House Fellowship Regional Finalist, the Outstanding Dissertation Award recipient from the University of Toledo and the recipient of two Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Circle of Excellence Awards.
A lifelong Roman Catholic, Grandillo was raised in Dayton, Ohio and attended St. Rita of Cascia Catholic elementary school. He is a 42-year member at St. Joseph Catholic Church of Tiffin and has held a myriad of volunteer leadership roles in his profession, community and Church. In addition to his work in higher education, Grandillo served four terms on the Tiffin City Council, and a year and a half as council president.
He and his wife, Nancy have been married for 39 years. Nancy is a Heidelberg College graduate and is the past Chair of the Board of Trustees of Terra State Community College in Fremont, Ohio. They currently live in Tiffin, Ohio and look forward to joining the Columbus community. Together they have two children and two grandchildren. Vincent, an Eagle Scout, and his wife Amy, are graduates of Hiram College. His daughter, Gina is a graduate of Ohio Northern University, where she was a past member of their Board of Trustees, and holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Dayton College of Law.