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  • Walter Iwanenko Jr., PhD

    Dr. Iwanenko

    Walter Iwanenko Jr., Gannon University’s eighth president, was born in Flushing, N.Y., to immigrant parents from Poland and Ukraine. He graduated from Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y. He is a first-generation college student, earning Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Occupational Therapy from D’Youville College. Iwanenko began his career at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo as a staff occupational therapist, working with patients impacted by spinal cord injuries, burns, head trauma, stroke and other cardiovascular disorders. He began teaching as an adjunct instructor at D’Youville College and accepted a full-time faculty position in 1996.

    While advancing through the faculty ranks, Iwanenko earned a Ph.D. in epidemiology and community health from the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Medicine in 2003. He went on to earn his School Administrator Certification from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 2004. He was a tenured faculty member and served as the chair of the Health Services Administration and Business departments at D’Youville College. He led the development of several new programs, including an undergraduate degree in Health Services Management and a doctoral program in Health Care Administration.  

    He has extensive experience in creating and managing healthcare organizations. In 2000, he founded ChildPro of WNY and Monarch Little Learners Academy in Lackawanna, N.Y. Responding to the need for high-quality services in the community, Iwanenko led the planning and construction of a 14,000-square-foot facility that provided educational and therapeutic services to hundreds of children with special needs while employing more than 180 individuals.  

    In 2011, Iwanenko accepted a position as the founding dean of Adult and Graduate Studies at Hilbert College. He led the development and implementation of graduate programs in public administration and criminal justice administration as well as an undergraduate adult degree completion program. Iwanenko executed several new initiatives, including a graduate student study away program in Budapest, Hungary, and a corporate collaboration with Baker Victory Services known as the Residential Administrative Mentoring Program, which was Hilbert’s first online graduate degree program in criminal justice administration. 

    Iwanenko was named vice president of Academic Affairs at Gannon University in the fall of 2016. Since his arrival, he has led community development initiatives, including the formation of Our West Bayfront, a 501c3 focused on community redevelopment. Iwanenko has assisted with the establishment of Gannon’s Ruskin, Florida, campus and its academic programs in OT, PT, Physician Assistant, Athletic Training, and Speech Language Pathology. Iwanenko has launched several initiatives at Gannon, including the formation of the Graduate Student Association, the establishment of the Alstadt Environmental Center, and the development of the Institute of Health and Cyber Knowledge (I-HACK) along with its academic programs in cybersecurity, cyber-engineering, and the minor in innovation and creativity.  

    In the fall of 2020, Iwanenko was named Provost and Vice President of Student Experience, which was a merging of academic units with student engagement. He then managed athletics, academic support services, residence life, mission and ministry, counseling and health centers, recreational and wellness, student accountability, and food service. As provost, he led the evaluation and redesign of the university’s liberal studies core, the first-year experience, faculty mentoring program, student employment program and honors program. 

    In November 2022, Iwanenko was selected as the eighth president of Gannon University, a role he assumed on July 1, 2023, after the retirement of Dr. Keith Taylor.   

    Iwanenko has been active in the local community as a youth football coach, parish event chair, and by serving on the boards of the Erie Technology Incubator, Our West Bayfront, and Erie Arts and Culture. Iwanenko is a resident of Erie, and has been married to his wife, Mary, since 1994. Together they have three children: Alexandria, Ashley and Erek.