President moves: 2 leaders entrusted with restoring harmony

Bogged by incendiary campus protests and the controversial exit of its former president, Stanford University believes its latest presidential appointment will restore harmony at the premier California research institution.

At least six four-year institutions have hired a president in the past two weeks. Among them, two are wading into rough waters as each institution endures a year of upheaval and controversy.


Andrea Chapdelaine – Connecticut College

Andrea Chapdelaine, president of Hood College in Maryland, has been tapped as the incoming leader at Connecticut College. Chapdelaine has cultivated an impressive track record at Hood, increasing the private college’s enrollment, retention rate and endowment in the nine years she’s served as president, CT Mirror reports.

The incoming president will look to turn things around following the tumultuous exit of its former president, who caused an uproar for proposing a fundraiser at a venue with antisemitic and racist cultural ties.

Earning master’s and doctoral degrees in social psychology from the University of Connecticut, Chapdelaine is a leader recognized for “bring[ing] people together to build stronger communities,” according to Connecticut College. At Hood, she established the Division of Community and Inclusivity, bolstered shared governance, and formed partnerships with community leaders.

Patricia Draves – Monmouth College (Ill.)

Patricia Draves will be embarking on a new chapter as the president of Monmouth College. Currently, she’s the president of Graceland University in Iowa. Draves is no stranger to Monmouth; in her earlier years working for higher education, she was a chemistry professor at the school she’s now leading.

Draves helped raise over $55 million at Graceland in the seven years she was at the helm. She succeeds Clarence Wyatt, who has served since 2014.

Draves begins in July.

Jonathan Levin – Stanford University (Calif.)

Bogged by incendiary campus protests and a controversial exit of its former president, Stanford University believes its latest presidential appointment will restore harmony at the premier California research institution. Jonathan Levin, dean of Stanford’s graduate business school, will take over in August.

“People wanted someone with a very distinguished academic record, somebody who has a deep familiarity with Stanford, understanding our spirit and culture,” said Jerry Yang, chair of Stanford’s Board of Trustees, according to The New York Times.

Levin’s roots at Stanford run deep. He earned undergraduate degrees in math and English from Stanford in the 1990s and was chair of Stanford’s economics department before he was appointed business school dean. He also serves on a White House advisory panel on science and technology.

Monsignor Joseph Reilly – Seton Hall University (N.J.)

Monsignor Joseph Reilly has been appointed the president of Seton Hall University. Reilly’s appointment marks a return for the private Roman Catholic University in having a priest-president at the helm. He has also experienced various phases of life at Seton as a student, alumnus, faculty member, administrator and priest, ROI-NJ reports.

As an administrator at Seton Hall, he’s served various roles, such as vice provost of academics and Catholic identity and dean of the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. As a stakeholder, he’s served as a member of its Board of Trustees.

In 2015, Pope Francis appointed him a Missionary of Mercy.

Reilly begins July 1.

Aimee Sapp – Meredith College (N.C.)

Meredith College has found its next president in Aimee Sapp, a veteran higher education leader who gained her 25 years of academic experience at William Woods University in Missouri. For the past 11 years, she’s served as its chief academic officer. Sapp will succeed President Jo Allen, who will step down at the end of this academic year, ABC 11 reports. Sapp will have big shoes to fill following Allen’s 13-year run.

Lawrence Ward – University of Hartford (Conn.)

The University of Hartford has found its next president in Lawrence Ward. In Ward’s current role as vice president for learner success and dean of campus life at Babson College (Mass.), he is credited with enhancing student well-being and belonging, developing non-tuition revenue channels and overseeing multiple construction projects, according to the university announcement. He is also an NCAA Board of Governors member and chair of the NCAA Division III Management Council.

Ward begins in July.

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Steve Briggs – Berry College (Ga.)

Berry College is looking for a new president after its longtime leader, Steve Briggs, announced his retirement. After serving for nearly 20 years, Briggs is calling the 2024-25 academic year his last.

Briggs is credited with expanding Berry’s academic offerings and modernizing its campus facilities. Berry has opened or expanded “a dozen” facilities under Briggs’ oversight, many of them in the athletic department, Coosa Valley News reports.

However, Briggs’ most vital accomplishment comes in the form of staving off enrollment and retention issues that have plagued the rest of the country since the pandemic, Forbes reports. Berry was able to accomplish this by reimiaging its Customer Relationship Management database.

Stepping down

Robert Robbins – University of Arizona

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins announced he will not seek to renew his contract, which expires June 30, 2026. While the contract technically guarantees Robbins two years until a successor, the Board of Regents has already planned to commence a nationwide search for his replacement.

The announcement follows a cash reserve miscalculation that pinned the university $177 million in the red, ABC 15 reports. Estimates put the time it will take to recoup the losses at three years, Forbes reports. The university will be looking to implement a flurry of cost-cutting measures, and the panic has drawn criticism from the community.

Robbins has served as UoFA’s president for seven years. One of his most notable accomplishments is his overlooking the university’s largest fundraising goal, $3 billion, which has currently amassed $2.2 billion, according to the Regents.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

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