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Sunday will be a proud day for Lackawanna -- in Quincy, Ill.

The Rev. Eugene R. Kole, a Lackawanna native, will be inaugurated as the 20th president of 137-year-old Quincy University, on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. He is a graduate of the former St. Barbara School and Father Baker High School in Lackawanna.

"I left home at 18, but I usually visit the Buffalo area twice a year," Father Kole, 50, said by phone from the independent, 1,200-student Quincy University, where he has been in charge since June.

A member of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual since the mid-1960s, Father Kole was ordained a priest in 1975.

He holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from St. Hyacinth College and Seminary in Granby, Mass.; a master of divinity degree from St. Anthony-on-Hudson Theological Seminary; a master's in counseling from Canisius College; a master's in psychology and counseling from LaSalle University in Philadelphia; and a doctorate in ministry from Drew University in Madison, N.J. He has had extensive experience as a counselor.

"My ultimate goal is to make Quincy 'THE' Franciscan university in the U.S.," said Father Kole, most recently dean of graduate and continuing education and dean of enrollment management at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia.

Vice president for student development at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut in the early 1990s, Father Kole was also director of campus ministry at the university from 1985 to 1992. Earlier, he spent 12 years teaching and doing administrative and parish work in high schools and churches in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Alabama.

"This is my first time in the Midwest," said Father Kole, who still has a sister, Monica; an aunt, Kathryn Jaworski; cousins and friends living in Lackawanna.

As his first Illinois winter approaches, he expressed gratitude for his Lackawanna upbringing. "It gave me my ability to adjust to the cold," he said.

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