In 1973, Dr. Eugene V. Petrik became Bellarmine College's second
president. When Dr. Petrik took the helm at Bellarmine, the college was
in a period of declining enrollment and financial peril. Over the next
several years, Dr. Petrik energized the college, expanded it
significantly and built it into one of the region's leading private
Over the course of Dr. Petrik's administration,
Bellarmine's enrollment doubled from 1300 to 2600 and its endowment
grew from $134,000 to $7 million. The number of undergraduate programs
at Bellarmine doubled and five new graduate programs began. The campus
grew by five buildings and Bellarmine later named a residence hall in
his honor: Petrik Hall.
Born and raised in the New Jersey suburbs of New
York City, mild mannered and soft spoken Eugene Petrik earned a
bachelor's degree in physics from Fairleigh Dickinson University in
1955 and a master's and doctorate in science education from Columbia.
He taught at Fairleigh Dickinson, New York University, and Seton Hall
before becoming vice president at Mount St. Mary's and eventually
president at Bellarmine.
Ever the man of science, Dr. Petrik was known and
loved for his keen intellect, his remarkable problem-solving ability,
and his infectious optimism.
Dr. Petrik was also influential in the Louisville
community, serving as leader of the 1982 commission on city-county
merger, the Leadership Louisville Foundation and the Louisville Rotary
Club. He also served on numerous boards, including the boards of the
Metro United Way, The Louisville Central Area, Inc. and The Old
Kentucky Home Council of Boy Scouts of America.
In 1990 Dr. Petrik retired from Bellarmine and was
succeeded by Dr. Joseph J. McGowan.
In a presidency of 17 years, Dr. Petrik led
Bellarmine to steady expansion, diversity and professional growth,
eventually achieving its status as the largest private college in
Kentucky. At the same time, the institution remained faithful to its
roots as a comprehensive liberal arts college in an ecumenically
Catholic tradition. Above all, President Petrik envisioned a
distinctive Bellarmine education as one that fostered "greatness of
heart" in its students as both experience and expectation.