Provost Lentini accepts position as president at Molloy College


Nicole Morsfield

Provost James Lentini will leave Oakland at the end of the Winter 2020 semester to serve as president at Molloy College in New York.

Provost James Lentini will be leaving Oakland University to serve as the president of Molloy College in Rockville Center, New York, located just outside of Manhattan. With the winter 2020 semester being his final at OU, many are reflecting on the work and achievements Lentini has had as a Golden Grizzly. 

In these past few years working with Provost Lentini, I have appreciated the time spent alongside a dedicated academic, administrator and compassionate professional who demonstrates every day that he has the welfare and success of students as his highest priority,” President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz said in a statement.

Lentini began his tenure six years ago, but the Detroit native always had a local connection to OU. 

“I’m a native Detroiter — grew up on the east side, and went to high school on the east side, so it’s in my blood,” Lentini said. “I was a faculty member at Wayne State for 15 years, I knew Oakland from way back when. I had friends here, actually performed here a couple times — I’m a musician.” 

After working as a dean at Miami University of Ohio, Lentini heard about the position opening for provost at Oakland and felt the need to return to his roots. 

“We built a home in Ohio, but there was a bit of a tug, it was attractive to come home, so I did,” Lentini said. 

While at Oakland, Lentini worked to streamline leadership, create programs for the students and faculty to participate in and improve student success across the board. 

Since 2013, Lentini saw a 10% increase in graduation rates, doubling the four-year graduation rate, raised the university’s Carnegie Classification from R3 to R2 through increasing doctoral and research programs and partnered with Oakland Community College (OCC) to increase transfer rates. He also guided the William Beaumont School of Medicine through its first graduating class in 2015, and he helped to both create and restructure departments across campus to better serve students, most notably the School of Music, Theatre and Dance, Office of Research, the Graduate School and the Office of Student Success. 

Lentini will be moving on to Molloy College, a smaller, private Catholic institution on Long Island. Molloy has a large nursing school among other similar programs that Lentini is familiar with from his tenure at OU. 

“Arts is pretty big there, which is my personal background,” Lentini said. “They have a program there called CAP 21, which is a musical theatre program in Manhattan, that’s a fun thing. My son is a musical theatre major … we’re going to an exciting area, with my family being artists, with myself a musician, New York is an attractive opportunity for us.” 

President Pescovitz and other administrators are currently conducting a search for Lentini’s successor. They plan to document updates and allow for community input on the OU website some time this month. 

While Lentini will be missed, many are very excited for his next chapter in his career. He remembers his time at Oakland fondly, and he is proud of the student success he had helped to facilitate. 

“After I first took the position, in ’13 or ’14, I performed a recital with my wife Dana in Varner Hall,” Lentini recalls. “I was able to practice a little more in those days … being able to represent OU in some ways … have been great experiences for me.”