Naomi Girson | Staff Writer
Vice President of Student Life Douglas Frizzell is set to pass the torch this spring after nine years to new vice president Leanna Fenneberg.
Fenneberg has been working in higher education for more than 24 years and was chosen to replace Frizzell from a nationwide applicant search.
“Leanna Fenneberg emerged as an outstanding candidate from a truly talented national pool of applicants. Leanna impressed the entire search with her extensive knowledge, excellent strategic sense and practical ability in the many aspects of creating an invigorating student learning environment,” said University President Ken Gormley in a news release.
As the new vice president, Fenneberg will be in charge of overseeing student services and resources on campus such as residence life, disability services, the Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion, the Center for Career Development and student conduct.
“I feel that Dr. Fenneberg is inheriting a very talented and amazing staff. I wish that I could have spent time informally with students on a more regular basis,” Frizzell said.
Fenneberg fits the bill after she found her passion for higher education at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit university in Milwaukee where she studied for her undergraduate degree.
“I fell in love with the idea of a holistic student education and the fundamental values of being at a faith-based institution that focuses on not just student success, but you know, forming leaders who are gonna go out and make a difference and have a positive influence on the world,” Fenneberg said.
Fenneberg was vice president for student affairs at private Rider University from 2017 to 2023. During this time she served on the president’s cabinet and provided broad oversight of student campus life.
A student leader at Rider University, Olivia Battinelli, became colleagues with Fenneberg from their very first meeting. She described Fenneberg as a good listener.
“I think that made her really stand out on our campus, you know? You felt her energy as soon as she stepped into the position,” Battinelli said.
Nicholas Barbati, assistant vice president of student affairs at Rider University, spoke highly of her ability to merge her life with campus life.
“Dr. Fenneberg was always there in the front row, cheering on our students or bringing her family to the campus festivals that we had, and really, really integrated her life into the experience that we had for our students here on our campus,” Barbati said.
Fenneberg began her career at Saint Louis University where she received a Ph.D. in higher education administration and worked for over 18 years. She oversaw various areas of student affairs, and she also served as the assistant vice president of student development for 10 years.
Kent Porterfield, current vice provost at Gonzaga University, recalls her potential immediately while working in student development at St. Louis University.
“She was always somebody to step forward to take initiative and accept responsibility. She was creative. She was well thought of by the students, the administration, the faculty. She was probably among the most organized people I’ve ever worked with. She just had a great ability to manage herself, manage those that she supervised and manage the operations that were under her responsibilities,” Porterfield said.
Fenneberg has held a number of higher education administrative positions.
Fenneberg was the national director of 37 professional Knowledge Communities while serving on the Board of Directors for NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and also held a position on the executive board for the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Fenneberg said she values prioritizing both work and home as aspects of her life that function together.
“I do feel like I am one whole person, I am not just one person at work and one person in my life. I feel like there’s a lot of continuity in the things that I value,” Fenneberg said.
Battinelli believes Fenneberg will be a positive addition to Duquesne’s campus.
“She brings such a lovable attitude and she’s just going to bring that sunshine to Duquesne. I have no doubt in my mind that she is just going to be such an incredible asset to that campus community,” Battinelli said.