LOUDONVILLE -- Former U.S. Chris Gibson will take over as the new president of Siena College, the first non-friar to hold the position in the school’s 82-year history, college officials announced Friday.
As Gibson introduced himself to the college community, Gibson alluded to the polarized nature of American society and asserted that the country needs more leaders infused with the values held up at the Franciscan school.
“We don’t treat each other right in this country right now,” Gibson said.
Gibson said the Franciscan mission “calls all of us to serve others” and said college is about more than just intellectual development; it’s also about physical, moral, religious, ethical and spiritual development. He said the college’s mission was “whole-person development.”
“We need more saints,” Gibson said. “We need more Siena saints.”
Gibson graduated from Siena College in 1986 before joining the Army and serving tours during the First Gulf War and in Kosovo and Iraq. Gibson has taught American politics at West Point and earned a doctorate in government at Cornell University.
After retiring from the Army, Gibson ran for Congress as a Republican and defeated incumbent Scott Murphy. Gibson served three terms in Congress, announcing in 2015 that he would not seek another term in office. In Congress, Gibson was considered among the most bipartisan members. He called his new charge at Siena the third calling of his life – after the Army and Congress.
“Of all the callings I’ve had this one is the strongest,” Gibson said.
The college’s last president, Brother Edward Coughlin, died last year after suffering from complications from a heart surgery. Gibson recognized Coughlin’s service and legacy.
“We remember Brother Ed for his grace, his sense of humor and his commitment to our students and our mission,” Gibson said.
John Murray, chair of Siena’s board of trustees, said Gibson’s leadership would be “transformational” for the college and alluded to Gibon’s litany of accomplishments.
“For me to describe his accomplishments would take the rest of the afternoon,” Murray said as he introduced Gibson on campus Friday afternoon.