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Canisius expected to get first lay president Field of 55 candidates has been narrowed to 3 finalists to replace Cooke

Canisius College is poised to have its first lay president.

Three finalists -- none of them clergy -- have been selected by the school's search committee as candidates to replace Canisius President Rev. Vincent M. Cooke, who will retire from the Catholic college after this academic year.

The college is already well acquainted with one of the finalists: John J. Hurley, who is a member of Cooke's cabinet, serving as executive vice president and vice president for college relations at Canisius.

The two others are Steven R. Di-Salvo, who has a background in academia and philanthropic advisement, and Guiyou Huang, dean of Biscayne College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at St. Thomas University, a private Catholic college in Miami Gardens, Fla.

The three were narrowed from a field of 55 prospects, Canisius officials said Thursday.

Each of the finalists will spend three days on campus meeting with the Canisius community, but the board of trustees will make the final decision.

"The board of trustees gave the search committee the charge to go out and find the most highly qualified candidates for the next president of Canisius College," said the Rev. Michael Tunney, chairman of the 14-member search committee. "The search committee is very happy to present these three candidates to the school and for the board's consideration as they choose our next president."

The chosen candidate would become the 24th president at Canisius and the first lay leader of the Jesuit institution. It's a trend at many Catholic colleges and universities as the presence of priests and nuns fades from campuses.

Hurley is a senior official in Cooke's administration, responsible for strategic planning, marketing, external and alumni relations, as well as planned and annual giving programs to the college.

A graduate of Canisius, Hurley earned a law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School. He worked for 13 years as a commercial lawyer and partner at Phillips, Lytle, Hitchcock, Blaine & Huber.

Hurley joined Canisius in 1997 as vice president of college relations.

DiSalvo is founder and president of The Hopewell Group Inc., a for-profit organization based in New York City that provides philanthropic advisement services to individuals, families, foundations and corporations.

DiSalvo, who earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Fordham University, has served as development officer at Fordham; executive assistant to the president at Loyola University in Chicago; and director of major gifts and capital campaign at Fairfield University.

Prior to founding The Hopewell Group in 2006, DiSalvo was executive director of Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational programs to stop domestic violence.

Huang earned a master's in English from Peking University in China and his doctoral degree in English from Texas A&M University.

He has been an English professor at Lehigh University, Kutztown University of Pennsylvania and Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Huang also has served as dean of undergraduate studies and programs at St. Thomas.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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