The Rev. Eric Albert Zimmer will become president of the University of Saint Francis on July 1.
Zimmer was appointed by the congregation that founded the university 129 years ago, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, working closely with the USF board, according to a statement from the university. He will succeed Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, who will retire after 27 years as president June 30.
“I take with all seriousness the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Sister Elise at the University of Saint Francis,” Zimmer said in the announcement. “The concern for the whole person, in the Franciscan tradition, consistent with Church teaching on the sanctity of life, extends the vision of Saints Francis and Clare to the present day. I am honored by the responsibility offered to me by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. I look forward to serving the university in this time of challenge and hope.”
Zimmer currently serves as associate teaching professor in the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame as well as pastor of Saint Patrick’s Church in Walkerton. He directs the Mendoza College of Business interchange with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education. He teaches negotiation and business communication and his research emphasis includes the adoption of innovation in nonprofit organizations and the fundraising practices of nonprofits. He has previously worked in higher education at Creighton University, Georgetown University and the University of Washington.
His work includes:
• Attaché for the Holy See Permanent Mission to the United Nations
• Founder and director of Leadership Development at the Creighton University School of Medicine
• Official of the Secretariat for the Congregation for Catholic Education, Universities Section, the Holy See
• Trustee, National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing
• Captain, United States Air Force Reserve
• CEO, Jesuits.net
Zimmer has a track record of success in fundraising, finance and investments, according to the USF announcement. He increased Saint Patrick’s Parish revenue by 50% in the first 12 months and developed six- and seven-figure capacity prospects for Creighton University. He also assisted in the design of the request for a high eight-figure gift at Notre Dame. He developed the fundraising arm of the National Office for Post-Abortion Reconciliation and Healing.
He is also an innovator and entrepreneur who created Jesuits.net, an international online networking and communication tool for Jesuits. He directed a multilevel national research team for Annenberg Public Policy Institute’s multiyear study on inhibiting effects of anti-drug video messages. As Official of the Secretariat, Zimmer directed Vatican oversight of 1,013 Anglophone Catholic universities, ecclesiastical faculties of theology, philosophy and canon law, and affiliated seminaries 54% of Catholic worldwide institutions, including 216 in the United States.
Zimmer holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA from the University of Chicago, a M.Div. and a licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University of New Orleans.
Zimmer has also spent time focusing on international pastoral ministry and service through long-term service in international communities, including Nepal, India, Chile, France and Italy, and in pastoral care with Omaha’s Hispanic community and New York City’s inner city and Ground Zero communities. He speaks five languages. He is also an avid cyclist and professionally trained bicycle mechanic who biked across the United States in 2003 for Project Rachel.
During the 2019-20 academic year, Zimmer will continue to serve at Notre Dame and Saint Patrick’s Church while Sister Elise focuses on finishing her career as USF president.