Meet Our President

An accomplished academic and administrative leader, President Donahue brings more than 20 years of executive leadership experience at leading U.S. institutions to his role at Saint Mary’s. 

From 2000 to 2013 he was president of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU), a consortium of nine independent theological schools and affiliate centers, located in Berkeley, Calif., where he recently presided over the milestone 50th anniversary of the GTU.

President James A. Donahue

His accomplishments at GTU included facilitating the ecumenical relationships of the GTU member schools while increasing and strengthening the interreligious and academic programs. He oversaw a successful capital campaign, which increased financial support for students and established the Center for Islamic Studies. The campaign also further established the GTU's renowned Flora Lamson Hewlett Library as one of the finest theological libraries in the world.

Prior to his presidency at the GTU, Donahue served for 15 years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as professor of theology and ethics, dean of students and vice president for student affairs, where he oversaw the full range of student support services, including residence life, community service and shared supervision with the university president for Division I athletics. He has also held faculty and administrative positions at Boston College and Santa Clara University.

Donahue has been committed to the public role of ethics and theology throughout his career. He has served as an ethics consultant to various organizations, including the Levi Strauss Corporation, the Department of Defense and the Catholic Health Association. His primary research areas and teaching interests include professional ethics, religion in public life and the issues of organizational and professional ethics. In addition to producing a multitude of articles, papers, presentations and speeches, he is the co-author of Ethics Across the Curriculum: A Practice-Based Approach, and the co-editor of Religion, Ethics and the Common Good. He is also completing the manuscript for his third book, Organizational Character: Studies in the Ethics of Institutions.

In his role as president at the GTU, Donahue also had the opportunity to work closely with faculty and administrators at Saint Mary’s, including the Bishop John S. Cummins Institute for Catholic Thought, Culture and Action, and as an advisory board member of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism.

Donahue holds a B.A. degree from the College of the Holy Cross, an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union. Donahue’s nonprofessional interests range from jazz to political analysis to college basketball and professional baseball. He and his spouse, Jane Purinton, have two sons.

President James Donahue and his wife, Jane Purinton.

About Jane Purinton

Jane Purinton graduated from New York University with a double major in English and religious studies. She continued her education in theology at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, where she met Jim Donahue. They were married in 1984.

Purinton has spent most of her professional life working in nonprofit administration in arts and education. In Washington, D.C., she worked at Georgetown University and the Textile Museum, and volunteered in the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress. After returning to California, she spent 10 years as a career technical education instructor at the College of Alameda. She currently volunteers as a writing coach at El Cerrito High School.

Raised on the East Coast and devoted to California, today Purinton considers herself to be bicoastal. Her two sons live in Washington, D.C., and there is a first grandchild on the way.

She enjoys discussing literature and religion and loves Maine, jazz, museums and walking the Bay Trail, country roads and city streets.