Canisius College's next president, Steve K. Stoute, says he welcomes his historic role as the first person of color and the youngest to lead the college in its 150-year history.
Stoute, 41, a vice president and chief of staff at Chicago’s DePaul University, was named Friday as the 25th president of Canisius. He will take over for retiring president John Hurley on July 1.
He said he will rely on his experience as a role model and his personal network to encourage more students and leaders of color to join him in supporting the college's future.
Stoute grew up in the dual island Caribbean nation and came to the United States in 2000 to attend Seton Hall University in New Jersey, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
He earned a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and worked as a legal associate at Dechert LLP in Philadelphia. He served in the development office at Princeton University before joining DePaul as chief of staff in 2018. DePaul, the nation’s largest Catholic university, named him its vice president for strategic initiatives in 2020.
"We are going to see 14 transitions among our 27 Jesuit colleges in the space of two years," Hurley said. "We will likely see 23 lay presidents, increasingly women and persons of color. That's a far cry from 2010, when I was among five lay presidents at Jesuit colleges."
Hurley said Stoute shares a legal background and a deep understanding of the challenges facing higher education, in general, and Catholic higher education, in particular. Last year, Hurley implemented cuts to faculty and programs to stave off a projected $20 million deficit due largely to declining enrollment and losses from the Covid-19 pandemic.
At his introduction, Stoute said his first goal will be “to engage deeply with this community and gather more friends of Canisius. I will go anywhere and everywhere I am invited so people will get to know me and what I care about and what I bring to Canisius.”
He said his biggest focus will be on increasing enrollment and widening the Canisius family.
"We are tuition dependent, so our biggest challenge will be to solidify our enrollment,” he said. “My own data tells me that there are enough students and families interested in Canisius College, but we need to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with them so they understand how Canisius can serve them and how their experience here will be unique in preparing them for the future.”
In addressing a gathering at the college’s Montante Cultural Center to announce his appointment, Stoute asked for a moment of silence for those affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I come from a culture where the belief and the saying is, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ ” he said. “So to my village – my friends, family, mentors and anyone whose path has crossed mine in a meaningful way, thank you.”