Madonna University names 1st lay president

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Livonia — Madonna University has named a longtime college official as the first lay president in the Catholic school’s 78-year-history.

The university announced Wednesday that Michael Grandillo becomes the seventh leader July 1, replacing Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, who is retiring after 14 years as head of the 4,200-student liberal arts school.

Madonna University cited Grandillo’s 35 years in higher education as a key factor in his selection.

“His breadth of experience across all aspects of university administration, and his deep faith and respect for the Felician/Franciscan mission and tradition will serve him and the Madonna community well,” said board Chairman Michael Talbot in a statement.

As a consultant with the Registry for College and University Presidents, Grandillo is interim vice president at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, where he heads the Foundation Board, advancement team and public outreach initiatives.

Reached Wednesday, Grandillo said his goal is to build on Kujawa’s efforts and ensure that “the education can be more accessible to more people.

“I want to wake up everyday to live up to the sisters’ values, serve those students and make sure they are prosperous in life,” he said.

The Ohio resident, who is Roman Catholic, also has been president of Lakeland College in Wisconsin; an adjunct professor and vice president for development and public affairs at Tiffin University; director of development at Heidelberg University; as well as president of the Tiffin City Council.

Before St. Mary’s, Grandillo had a similar assignment at Bethel College in Indiana. He started his career in admissions at his alma mater, Ohio Northern University.

Madonna officials said Grandillo has been involved in five successful capital campaigns, tripling two institutions’ endowments and raising more than $80 million dollars.

Kujawa, who has spent about 35 years with Madonna, said Grandillo demonstrates “excellent qualifications” and can help keep the university competitive.

“Students come with certain expectations that cannot be covered by tuition,” she said. “We do have to look for support. ... He is well prepared to do that.”

During Kujawa’s tenure, retention improved by 8 percent; the school’s first doctoral program was launched; academic programs grew to 100 undergraduate and 35 graduate offerings; and Madonna became the first independent university in the state awarded the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Community Engagement Classification, school officials said.

Kujawa also led more than $40 million in campus improvements, including construction of the school’s first stand-alone building in 40 years, as well as started the Haiti Educational Leadership Program.

“I think Madonna University is in a perfect place for a transition now,” she said. “I am very happy with what I was able to do, and I am very happy to be moving on.”