Rev. Dr. Eric Albert Zimmer steps down as USF President

April 5, 2023

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—University of Saint Francis President Rev. Dr. Eric Albert Zimmer has decided to step down as president in order to pursue other opportunities within the Church and academia, effective May 8, 2023, as the academic year comes to a close.

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Theology Dr. Lance Richey who has been with USF since 2011, will assume Fr. Zimmer’s day-to-day responsibilities. Fr. Zimmer will work with Dr. Richey and the USF leadership team in order to ensure a smooth transition for USF. Fr. Zimmer is expected to continue to appear on behalf of the University as the outgoing President at several functions, such as Commencement.

“I have enjoyed my time at the University of Saint Francis. Over the last three years, we have met many challenges. I am grateful for the efforts of many who have assisted me in achieving our goals. I look forward to assisting in the transition and I am confident that I will be leaving the University in the hands of tremendously talented and capable colleagues,” Fr. Zimmer said.

Fr. Zimmer noted that he made his decision after consulting with Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and after completing discussions with the Chair of the USF Board of Trustees and the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, the University’s sponsoring congregation.

“We are very grateful for Father Zimmer’s efforts on behalf of our students over the past three years. We wish him the very best as he moves into the next phase of his career and service to the Church,” said Richard A. Poinsatte, USF Board of Trustees Chair.

The highlights of President Zimmer’s tenure at the University of Saint Francis, which began on July 1, 2020, include:

  • Opening an addition to the USF Crown Point site, expanding the ability to double the enrollment in Crown Point, Indiana.
  • Formalizing the Assisi Program for Leadership and Discipleship, a program geared toward a strong discipleship and leadership program for Catholic students.
  • Successfully leading USF during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring students continued to receive the highest quality academic experience while keeping the campus community safe and healthy.
  • Restructuring of the university’s Information Technology services, achieving a $1 million savings in its first year.
  • Reorganizing the employee health insurance program to achieve $2 million savings, while expanding on campus healthcare services to employees.
  • Creating the Presidential Catholic Scholarship and the Catholic Foundation Scholarship to encourage more Catholic students to attend USF.
  • Introducing several new academic programs, particularly in the Health Sciences.
  • Overseeing investments in athletic facilities, to include renovation of the south end zone and installation of premium suites at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium, installation of new turf and scoreboard for football and soccer, and a golf simulator for training for the golf teams.
  • Creating the St. Benedict the Moor, Justice Center.
  • Relocating the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership onto the main campus to increase the convenience and academic successes of students.
  • Leading a successful campus master planning process.

The Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration remain focused on continuing the strength and impact of this important ministry of higher education in the name of the Catholic Church. The Provincial leadership, working closely with the Board of Trustees, will prayerfully appoint the next USF president.

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, USF 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 USF.