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'Brother Ed,' Siena College president, dies at 71

'Brother Ed,' Siena College president, dies at 71

'Brother Ed,' Siena College president, dies at 71
Siena College President Br. F. Edward Coughlin, O.F.M., Ph.D., front, is seen at 2019 Commencement.
Photographer: Erica Miller / Gazette Photographer

Brother Edward Coughlin, president of Siena College since 2014, died early Tuesday morning after complications from surgery last week, the college announced.

Coughlin took charge of the Franciscan college in August 2014 and was formally inaugurated in October 2015.

Coughlin, just weeks after announcing he planned to step down at the end of the coming school year, suffered a catastrophic stroke during heart surgery July 23 for a congenital heart defect. He remained hospitalized for a week as the Siena community prayed.

“The entire Siena College community is shocked and deeply saddened at Brother Ed’s untimely and unexpected passing,” John Murray, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees said in a released statement. “He served Siena with distinction and with a heartfelt commitment to the Franciscan ideals that governed his life and the life of the college.”

During his tenure, Coughlin helped increase enrollment, expanded programs and oversaw a growing endowment. This fall, the college expects to welcome around 800 incoming students, one of the largest freshman classes in the school’s history.

The college established eight new majors and a master of business administration program under Coughlin’s leadership. And the school’s endowment grew from around $35 million in 2013 to over $130 million.

Margaret Madden, Siena’s vice president for academic affairs, will serve as interim president while Siena searches for a new president. Madden said Coughlin led the college “with grace and humility.”

“His influence on Siena was profound,” she said. “He was one of the kindest and most trustworthy people I have ever worked with.”

In posts on the college’s Facebook page, students, alumni and family of students recalled experiences that reflected Coughlin’s character.

“He had such a visible presence on campus, his smile radiating every time you saw him,” one poster wrote.

Coughlin’s funeral and burial is expected to be held at St. Bonaventure University, where he graduated, taught and worked as an administrator before coming to Siena.

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