President Rooney Named Chair of Empire 8 Presidents Council

July 1, 2020

Dr. Gerard Rooney, president of St. John Fisher College, was named chair of the Presidents Council of the Empire Athletic Conference. Rooney begins his three-year appointment as chair on July 1.

President Rooney addresses a crowd at the Courage Bowl in 2015.

Rooney was elected unanimously when the Council met for its annual meeting in November 2019. He is set to replace former chair Dr. Shirley Mullen, president of Houghton College, who served from 2017-2020.

“I am honored to serve as the Chair of the Empire 8 Presidents Council,” said Rooney. “Our conference exemplifies the best attributes of athletic competition and directly aligns with the Fisher Athletics mantra of ‘Good, Smart, and Talented.’ I am grateful for the opportunity to represent the thousands of Empire 8 student-athletes who are dedicated to excellence in the classroom, on the playing field, and in service to their communities.”

Rooney became the seventh president of St. John Fisher College on July 1, 2015. He has over 35 years of experience in higher education and executive administration and joined Fisher in 1996. Prior to becoming president, he served as executive vice president for enrollment, advancement, and planning.

“Dr. Rooney’s tenure as Empire 8 President begins in the most unprecedented time in higher education,” said Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano. “We are fortunate to have his forward thinking leadership and extensive experience with intercollegiate athletics during this pivotal moment in our history.”

Since taking office in 2015, Rooney has instituted several initiatives that have positively impacted Fisher students and its campus community, including an Executive Intern Program, Presidential Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and a Civic Action Plan, among others.

Rooney also launched Fisher’s College Bound program, a weeklong residential program designed to help low-income, first-generation high school students navigate the college search and selection process. Since its inception, the College Bound Program has served more than 300 students, of which approximately 95 percent planned to attend college.

A charter member of the Empire 8, Fisher has won 66 Empire 8 Championships since the league’s inception in 1999. In 2019-20, the Cardinals won six Empire 8 Championships (women’s tennis, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s track and field). In addition, Fisher student-athletes have excelled in the classroom and community, with countless Academic and Scholar All-America selections. The College had a league record 247 student-athletes earn Empire 8 President’s List honors for earning at least a 3.75 grade-point average during the 2019-20 Spring semester.

The Empire 8 is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and its nine member schools compete at the Division III level. Fisher participates in 21 sports as part of the E8: baseball, softball, field hockey, football, men’s golf, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women's soccer, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women's volleyball.