Brooklyn Heights

Brendan J. Dugan, transformational leader of St. Francis College, dies at age 69

Wake to be held Wednesday and Thursday at Scotto Funeral Home

December 19, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brendan J. Dugan. Photo courtesy of St. Francis College
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It is with great sorrow that St. Francis College (SFC) announces the passing of President Brendan J. Dugan, a graduate of the college Class of 1968, on Dec. 18. He was 69 years old.

President Dugan worked in commercial banking for 40 years before becoming president of SFC on July 1, 2008. Before that, he was chairman of the college’s board of trustees and was instrumental in completing the $40 million Campaign for Big Dreams, a transformational project that resulted in the building of the Anthony J. Genovesi Athletic Center, the Academic Center, and set the stage for the Eileen C. Dugan Life Sciences Center, which opened during his presidential tenure and houses the college’s fast-growing nursing program.

President Dugan was honored on Dec. 7 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn at the 2016 Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon with the Emma A. Daniels Benefactor Award. The honor was accepted by his son Joseph Dugan, principal of Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School.

Reading from President Dugan’s comments that afternoon, Joseph said, “Barbara [Dugan] and I would not be the people we are today were it not for our Catholic faith and the Catholic education that we have received throughout our lives. It has formed our identity, and that of our family, reinforcing the values and beliefs that our parents lovingly instilled in our homes.”

“President Dugan will be remembered for his love of family, faith, and the future of our borough,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Brooklyn has benefited from his years of service, which I came to personally appreciate through our work with St. Francis College and its student body. I share in mourning his passing alongside the countless number of people that had the opportunity to experience his kindness and friendship firsthand.”

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of St. Francis College President Brendan J. Dugan, a wonderful educator and a credit to his family and community,” said Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO Andrew Hoan and former Brooklyn Chamber President and CEO Carlo A. Scissura. “It was an honor to recognize President Dugan’s many accomplishments at our Winter Gala, from his successful banking career to his time giving back to his alma mater. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

President Dugan was involved with the diocese for many years, serving on the Finance Council, as trustee for the St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish and spending years on the board of the Futures in Education Foundation and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School.

“We are grateful for Brendan’s commitment to Brooklyn Bridge Park and the overall betterment of Brooklyn,” per a statement from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. “He will be remembered for his modest nature, his strong faith, his solid commitment to education, and, above all, his devotion to family.”

Last week, President Dugan was also honored by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce at its annual gala. His son Patrick Dugan, ’01, a senior director at Cushman & Wakefield, accepted the award Thursday night on behalf of his father.

The honor was introduced by two personal and professional colleagues. “When you think of Brooklyn, when you think of business, when you think of St. Francis College, you certainly think of Brendan Dugan,” said National Grid New York President Kenneth D. Daly, ’88, who called President Dugan his mentor.

“When you hung around with Brendan, unless you were in the banking business you really didn’t really know he was a banker. Not only that, you didn’t even know he was CEO of a bank,” said Domenick A. Cama, senior executive vice president and COO of Investors Bank who grew up with President Dugan in Carroll Gardens. “He’s a pretty humble guy. He’s a mentor to me also. He is a person that exhibits humility and modesty. Those are the two lessons that I’ve learned, the two words that I’ve learned from Brendan from him in his career. 

During his four decades of banking, President Dugan served at a number of institutions, with his most recent banking position being chairman and CEO of Sovereign Bank’s Metro NY/NJ Division.  Sovereign had recently acquired Independence Bank where Dugan served as a senior executive since 2003.  Prior to joining Independence, he served as COO of Citibank Commercial Markets (2001-2003), president of European American Bank (1991-2001) and president and CEO of NatWest USA (1974-1991).

“St. Francis College has lost an icon and a visionary,” assemblymember Felix Ortiz said in a statement. “I was sad to learn of the passing of St. Francis College President Brendan J. Dugan. He was a true advocate for higher education and the students of St. Francis College. My thoughts and condolences are with his wife Barbara, sons, grandchildren and the entire St. Francis College community.”

In 2013 he put his vast banking experience to work again as a member of the board of directors of Investors Bank.

Upon being named president of SFC, Dugan made clear that his mission was “to offer working-class families a college that provides a great education at an affordable price and one that makes sure its graduates are not just prepared to enter the job market but will be productive in all aspects of their lives.”

His strong belief in helping others extended well beyond the college and the diocese. He was a board member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy. In the past, he was active with the New York Bankers Association and was a member of its board of directors and Legislative Policy Committee.

President Dugan understood that his exemplary leadership on campus was inextricably tied to the success of Downtown Brooklyn – and that the area’s institutions of higher education had an important role in driving that success,” per a statement from the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “To that end, President Dugan was instrumental in founding the Partnership’s Brooklyn Education Innovation Network, and was one of the first to recognize the importance of strengthening ties between the area’s academic institutions and businesses. President Dugan was far more than a great leader for St. Francis. He was a pillar of the Downtown Brooklyn community, and he will be deeply missed.”

In June 2009, President Dugan was inducted into the Pontifical Order of the Knights of St. Gregory the Great by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Other community organizations that have bestowed honors upon him in the past include the Greater Jamaica Development Corp., the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai Brith, Helen Keller Services for the Blind, the Crohns and Colitis Foundation, the American Jewish Congress, Neighborhood Housing Services, Good Shepherd Services, Touro Law School, St. Francis College, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Boy Scouts of America and Brooklyn Legal Services Corp.

President Dugan cherished his Irish heritage. His family hailed from Kilcar County, Donegal. He was honored by both the St. Patrick’s Society of Brooklyn and The Great Irish Fair.


A wake honoring President Dugan will be held at:

Scotto Funeral Home

106 First Place, 11231

Wednesday and Thursday: 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.


The funeral will be held at:

St. Mary Star of the Sea

467 Court St., 11231

Friday: 10:30 a.m.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Brendan J. Dugan ‘68 Scholarship Fund. 

Dugan is survived by his wife Barbara A. Dugan, his sons Joseph (Stephanie), Michael and Patrick (Christina) and his six grandchildren Brendan C., Ryan, William, Helena, Colin and Mary. He is also survived by his sister Patricia Curtin and brother Brian.

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