The Presidents of Providence College

Reverend Dennis Albert Casey, O.P.

First President, 1918-1921
Birth: June 24, 1877,
Killorglin, Cty, Kerry, Ireland
Death: March 20, 1940, in Columbus, OH
[In the] “Religious Orders, at least in the old days, there were certain men in the Province who would be sent to a job as men who would have experience in building the place and opening the place…Casey was of that type.”
-Rev. William A. Hinnebusch, O.P., ’30, Dominican historian and author and former member of Providence College Department of History
In 1910, after years spent establishing numerous parishes and schools, Matthew Harkins, D.D., Bishop of the Diocese of Providence, felt the time was right to pursue his dream of establishing a Catholic college in the Diocese. He was familiar with the seven-century teaching mission of the Order of Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans, and invited the Fathers of the Province of St. Joseph to establish a new college in the City of Providence.
In 1911 the Provincial reported to the Master General in Rome that the Council of the Province had accepted the Bishop’s offer but asked that foundation be postponed until the Province could provide an adequate staff of professors. In 1911 and 1913 the Bishop purchased property in northwest Providence on which to build the college. But the necessary ecclesiastical permissions from the Master General and the Pope were slow in coming.
Negotiations did not progress until the elections of Louis Theissling, O.P., as Master General in 1916, and, especially, of James Raymond Meagher, O.P., as Provincial in 1913. Both shared the Bishop’s commitment to Catholic education. In 1915 Father Meagher and Bishop Harkins began the pursuit of formal permission from Rome in earnest. Even before all the founding documents were received in February 1917, the energetic Father Meagher made several moves to start making the Bishop’s dream a reality.