Douglas Palmer, the 11th President of Siena Heights University began his term on July 1, 2023. He comes to Siena Heights from Culver-Stockton College in Missouri, where he served as President. As president of Culver-Stockton, Palmer guided the college through the COVID pandemic while adding a number of high-demand programs designed to meet the needs of the local workforce. He secured a gift of more than $1 million to make Culver-Stockton the permanent home of the Tri-State Development Summit, an economic development organization covering 36 counties and three states. He expanded programs to meet local workforce needs, including establishing new majors in agricultural business and data analytics.

Palmer has a strong belief that a high-quality private education should be accessible for all students. He was a non-traditional student himself, earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville following an enlistment as an active-duty soldier and paratrooper in the U.S. Army. He used the G.I. Bill to fund his undergraduate education and subsequently earned full tuition scholarships to pursue graduate work. He completed his Ph.D. in history at The Ohio State University where he won a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to study in the Netherlands. He was also awarded the Presidential Fellowship given to the 25 top dissertation writers in the university.

Palmer started his career at Walsh University, a Catholic university in North Canton, Ohio teaching world history where he became chair of the Humanities Division. His interest in helping students prepare for an interconnected world and global economy through the lens of Catholic social teaching led him to establish Walsh’s global learning program. Founder of Walsh’s campus in Rome, Italy, Palmer oversaw programs in Europe, Latin America and Africa. He worked with students to lead Walsh’s efforts in Universities Fighting World Hunger and attended a United Nations charter signing event in which higher education leaders from around the world pledged to direct the teaching and research efforts of modern colleges and universities to solve global hunger. In addition, he worked with local leaders and healthcare institutions as Provost to create programs which served the needs of the local community. He led the efforts to create a fully online nurse practitioner program in mental health and addictions treatment and a Master’s in Occupational Health to better serve Ohio’s healthcare needs.

As a researcher, Palmer has published and spoken often about law, politics and religion, particularly in the context of the American and French Revolutions. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Emory University School of Law. He is also recognized as a leader in the field of international education where he served as the Chair of the Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship committee for NAFSA: the Association of International Educators. He has worked with higher education leaders around the world, having led workshops and training on global learning to national and international audiences.

Palmer and his wife (Cathy) are both natives of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and they have three boys. Palmer has completed a full marathon and five half-marathons and is an avid fly fisherman.

Doug Palmer portrait

President of Siena Heights University