President Francesca Onley, PhD, CSFN
At a Glance
Sister Francesca Onley, PhD, CSFN, was inaugurated as Holy Family University’s fourth President and Chief Administrative Officer on November 22, 1981. In her more than 30 years at the helm of the University, she has overseen the growth of the University.
Born in Philadelphia’s Mayfair section on March 4, 1933, Sister Francesca joined the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 1950. She received her bachelor of arts degree in Education, Business from Holy Family in 1959. Seven years later, she earned her master’s degree in secondary Education, Business from Marywood University, and in 1986, Sister Francesca earned a PhD in Higher Education Administration from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
Under her guidance, Holy Family made the transition to University status in 2002.
Sister Francesca’s vision has allowed Holy Family to grow throughout the decades she has been President. In that time, the University has constructed many buildings, including the Campus Center (1988), the University building in Newtown(1997), the Education & Technology Center (2005), and the Garden Residence (2006).
Other University sites include Bensalem (2003) and South Philadelphia (2007).
An effective administrator with more than 30 years experience in planning, fundraising, financial management, development and institutional expansion, Sister Francesca has overseen the re-structuring of the University’s Board of Trustees, and maintained the integrity of the University’s educational philosophy and academic programs.
Professional Activities and Memberships
International Association of University Presidents
Chair of the Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace.
As chair of the Commission on Disarmament Education, Conflict Resolution and Peace, Sister Francesca has encouraged university presidents in the Association to launch and/or strengthen peace education initiatives. More information on IAUP can be found at www.iaup.org.
PhD Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (Higher Education Administration), 1986
MS Marywood College (Secondary Education, Business), 1966
BA Holy Family University, (Education, Business), 1959
Additional Positions Held
Holy Family University
Assistant to the President from 1980 to 1981
Nazareth Academy High School
Principal, 1972 to 1980
Assistant Principal, Guidance Counselor, 1967 to 1972
Faculty, 1965 to 1967
Nazareth Academy Grade School
Faculty, 1953 to 1965