John Downey Named Vice President of Campus Life and Student Success
At a meeting of the Stetson University Board of Trustees, President Christopher F. Roellke, PhD, introduced John P. Downey, PhD, as its next Vice President of Campus Life and Student Success. Downey was selected to lead the university’s student affairs following a nationwide search. He joins Stetson from Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, where he has served as Dean of Students since May of 2019. Downey joined virtually during the Board of Trustees morning session.
“John really stood out among all the excellent candidates we met,” said Roellke. “He brings great experience and understanding of so many facets of student life, academic affairs and enrollment management. He is known as a trusted advocate for students and for his collaboration.”
Downey begins his new position on Jan. 1, 2023. At Stetson, he will lead a large and diverse team of highly committed and engaged individuals focused on supporting all students by offering multiple opportunities and venues for personal and academic growth, leadership and career opportunities, and an enriched collegiate experience.
“I am thrilled to be joining Stetson University. I feel very fortunate to be part of a community with such a rich history and tradition. The students, faculty, staff, alumni and trustees I met were so impressive and committed to the institution,” said Downey.
At Widener, Downey led a team of more than 100 staffers and reorganized Student Affairs to exceed student expectations and increase student engagement, satisfaction, belonging and learning. Besides a Student Affairs division that included new student orientation, student government, Greek life, clubs and organizations, his oversight included International Student Services, Study Abroad, Civic and Global Engagement, and Athletics.
He and his team at Widener developed a student engagement platform, increased student satisfaction with their out-of-classroom experience and doubled the number of students participating in living-learning communities. He was part of Widener’s leadership on the university’s Crisis Management Team, Health Advisory Team and Back to Campus Task Force during the pandemic.
Prior to Widener, Downey was Dean of Students at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina. Previous experience includes leadership positions in academic advising, student development and student activities. Downey received his doctorate in higher educational leadership and policy studies from Indiana University. He received his master’s degree in business administration from The College of New Jersey and his bachelor’s degree in commerce from Rider University.