Dennis C. Golden '63
His leadership skills, first honed on the gridiron of Mount St. James, are legendary. But Dennis Golden’s life and accomplishments belie any stereotype.
Born and raised in Bayside, Queens, and a graduate of the inaugural class at Holy Cross High School, Denny arrived on the Hill in 1959 to study history and play football.
A charismatic figure on Fitton Field, he was a two-way tackle under coach Dr. Eddie Anderson. Denny was named to All-New England and All-East teams, and earned Associated Press All-American honorable mention. He co-captained the Crusaders’ 1962 football team with fellow Hall of Famer Tom Hennessy, and was a member of the Quantico 1963 Armed Forces Championship football team. After graduation he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys but turned down a pro offer to enter the Marines. When he returned from the service, he not only pursued a career in education -- he embraced it wholeheartedly and with the same drive and focus that his teachers and coaches remarked upon.
Denny earned a master’s in guidance and psychology from Assumption College, and then received a doctorate in higher education administration from Boston College. He taught and worked in student affairs at Holy Cross, Framingham State, Duquesne University, and University of Louisville. He coached football on the Division I and Division III levels for 13 years.
In 1995, he was named president of Fontbonne University in St. Louis, the first male, married, and lay president of the Catholic university sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, During his tenure, he increased enrollment to an all-time high, and oversaw the change in status from college to university, and a record-setting comprehensive campaign.
His outreach to underserved populations was a cornerstone of his presidency. He also served as professor of education at Fontbonne, teaching and mentoring students for nearly two decades.
In service to higher education, Denny has been a member of numerous college and university accreditation teams. He is a nationally-recognized authority on pluralism and diversity, and has written, published and consulted about law and higher education, executive leadership, enrollment management, strategic planning, student affairs, intercollegiate athletics, community service and the presidency. He is past president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
In service to his community, he was on the Board of Directors of the Urban League of St. Louis, The Mission Advancement Initiative Committee and the Seminary Advisory Board for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the Board of Directors of Fair Share Housing Development of New Jersey, and many other organizations. He received State of Missouri’s Martin Luther King, Jr. 25th Anniversary Award.
Denny retired earlier this year, after 19 years as president of Fontbonne University and 48 years in service to American higher education.
For his unwavering devotion to and support of men and women who are making their way in the world; for modeling leadership and working to advance the service of faith and the promotion of justice; and for recognizing and advancing the power and value of Catholic higher education, the College of the Holy Cross presents to Dennis Golden the Sanctae Crucis Award.