President moves: Administrators prove popular picks as next leader on the job

All three presidents who announced retirements in the past two weeks served at their institutions for more than a decade, which is a promising sign considering recent surveys found presidential tenures dwindling to less than six years.

Three college administrators—including one president—will be coordinating goodbye parties at their current institutions as they prepare to move on to bigger opportunities elsewhere.

All three presidents who announced retirements in the past two weeks served at their institutions for more than a decade, which is a promising sign considering recent surveys found presidential tenures dwindling to less than six years.


Devin Stephenson – Florida Polytechnic University

Devin Stephenson has been selected to become Florida Polytechnic University’s next president, the second in the institution’s 12-year history. Stephenson is currently the president of Northwest Florida State College, a community college. A tenured community college leader, Stephenson has 15 years of experience serving institutions across Alabama, Missouri and Kentucky, Tampa Bay Times reports.

The newly appointed president also serves as a state representative on the Southern Regional Education Boards’ executive council. As Florida’s representative, he helps provide data and recommendations to policymakers across 16 Southern states.

His contract is still pending approval from the state’s higher education system.

Lisa Coleman – Adler University (Ill.)
Lisa Coleman

Lisa Coleman, senior vice president for global inclusion and strategic innovation at NYU, will be leveling up in her administrative career as the newly appointed president of Adler University, according to an Adler press release. As the Chicago-based college aims to expand its graduate education and deepen its impact globally on creating equity-minded leaders, no better person came to bind for the Board of Trustees.

Coleman’s career at NYU focused on building global partnerships and equity, inclusion and innovation initiatives, which intersects with what Adler is looking for. Adler stakeholders are hoping for Coleman to drive innovations in health care, cultivate global leaders committed to access and equitable practices, and reimagine wellness frameworks through partnerships and whole-person approaches.

Prior to NYU, Coleman served as Harvard University’s first special assistant to the president and first chief diversity officer, which also contained globally minded strategies.

Coleman begins on Sept. 1.

Justin Schwartz
Justin Schwartz – University of Colorado Boulder

University of Colorado Boulder has found its next president, Justin Schwartz, the current executive vice president and provost at Pennsylvania State University. He will replace the long-reigning president, Phil DiStefano, who has overseen the campus for 15 years.

Schwartz’s current duties at Penn State have made him an indispensable candidate for a university president who beat out over 90 other applicants for the job at CU Boulder. At Penn State, he has co-led initiatives to enhance student success, grow interdisciplinary research, lead service teams focused on faculty recruitment and retention and helped develop a new budget allocation model.

Schwartz begins in July on a three-year contract, Daily Camera reports.

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Bradley Creed – Campbell University (N.C.)
Bradley Creed

Following a 30-year career in higher education and a decade-long stint as president of Campbell University, Bradley Creed is calling it a career. He plans to retire in the summer of 2025 and make way for the new guard. In Campbell’s 137-year history, there have only been five presidents.

But Creed’s career was no minor note. He led one of the most successful capital campaigns in Campbell’s history by raising $105 million, according to a press release. Furthermore, the private Christian university beat national trends during the pandemic and ticked enrollment upward.

Rebecca Bergman – Gustavus Adolphus College (Minn.)
Rebecca Bergman

Rebecca Bergman is retiring from Gustavus Adolphus College in the summer of 2025 following an 11-year run, the university announced.

Bergman was the first woman to lead the private liberal arts college when she stepped in in 2014. She was no stranger to Gustavus; she served on the Board of Trustees from 2007 to 2014 following the enrollment of her eldest son in 2003. Prior to her 18 years of executive leadership, Bergman had no career in academia. Her wealth of professional experience was her 26 years working as an engineer and senior executive at a medical device company.

The former engineer proved a natural as president. Bergman led two comprehensive funding campaigns that generated over $400 million, according to a university statement. She has also implemented changes to Gustavus’ academic curriculum, adjusted students’ graduation requirements and created the college’s first master’s degree program in athletic training.

Joanne Berger-Sweeney – Trinity College (Conn.)

Joanne Berger-Sweeney is calling it a job well done following her decision to retire as Trinity College’s 22nd president and first Black and female leader. She served for 11 years, creating a lasting legacy at the private liberal arts by improving campus equity and diversity and fostering community and global engagement, according to a university statement.

Berger-Sweeney created a mentoring program for first-year students and helped connect upper-level students with career and post-college networks through the Career and Life Design Center. She also helped Trinity redefine the mission of the liberal arts degree to stay in step with developing 21st-century skills. Beyond the student, the long-time president also helped Trinity forge a partnership with the city of Hartford and its downtown area.

With plans to retire on June 30, 2025, Trinity has begun its search for the 23rd president.

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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