ChangeMakers: Dr. John Smarrelli Jr.

Dr. John Smarrelli Jr. is the 22nd President of Christian Brothers University and its first permanent lay president. Over the past 25 years, he has served in senior administrative positions at Loyola University in Chicago, IL and Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY.

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A biochemist by training, Dr. Smarrelli has retained his faculty status in his discipline while holding administrative positions. He earned his doctorate and master's degrees from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and has conducted postdoctoral work in biology at the University of Virginia. Over the years in his role as professor of biology, Dr. Smarrelli has received numerous awards for teaching, has published articles in scientific journals, obtained funding for his research on gene structure from the National Science Foundation, and authored textbooks as well as multiple College Board publications regarding the Advanced Placement Program.

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Since arriving in Memphis in 2009, Dr. Smarrelli has begun programs in Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies at CBU. Dr. Smarrelli is an active member of the Memphis community focusing on economic development and social services including involvement with Memphis schools, member of the Transition Planning Commission, TLE Advisory Board, economic development groups, and serving on the boards of St. Mary’s University of MN, the East Memphis Rotary, Catholic Charities, the Gulf South Conference, the Salvation Army, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. Dr. Smarrelli is a member of numerous local, regional and national university associations. John and his wife, Eloise, have three adult children and four grandchildren. The Smarrellis attend Holy Spirit Catholic Church.


Recently, the White House recognized CBU for its Latino Student Success Program; both Paz Arita and CBU President John Smarrelli represented the college at the ceremony where they met then President Barack Obama. Dr. Smarrelli is active on social media and can be followed on Twitter at @CBUPresident.


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