President moves: Yale taps next leader, plus more hires abound

Colleges and universities welcome new presidents while bidding students farewell for the summer.

Colleges and universities welcome new presidents while bidding students farewell for the summer. The biggest splash is the recent hire of Yale’s next leader. Also: Southern New Hampshire settles into its next president following Paul LeBlanc’s departure and Tuskegee University finds a former federal student aid leader to champion the HBCU.


Tuskegee University President Mark Brown
Tuskegee University President Mark Brown
Mark Brown – Tuskegee University (Ala.)

Tuskegee University has found a new president in Mark Brown, a retired Air Force major general with decades of experience in the military and education leadership.

With over 30 years of experience in the Air Force, he served as deputy commander of the Air Education and Training Command, which recruits, trains and educates military personnel. Following his retirement, he became the chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid, overseeing $1.7 trillion and all of the nation’s Title IV funding. Most recently, he served as the CEO of the Student Freedom Initiative which oversees providing supplemental financial to students across 63 HBCUs.

Brown succeeds Charlotte Morris, who will be finishing her third separate term as president. He is the first alumnus to lead the nearly 143-year-old HBCU.

Maurie McInnis – Yale University (Conn.)

Maurie McInnis, current president at Stony Brook University in New York, will take the helm at Yale University. She will be making her return to her alma mater as its first permanent female president.

McInnis has forged a strong track record as a higher education leader ahead of her appointment. She has led academics, research and operations in her four-year run at Stony Brook and oversees the Brookhaven National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy facility. Moreover, she served as provost of the University of Texas at Austin and vice provost at the University of Virginia, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. McInnis’ is also a respected scholar and cultural historian, first gaining her reputation as a graduate student at Yale in the Department of the History of Art, according to a university statement.

Yale University President Maurie McInnis
Yale University President Maurie McInnis

The incoming president takes the reins at a tumultuous time. Yale has become a cultural flashpoint due to campus protests around the Israel-Hamas war. At Stony Brook, McInnis faced a faculty censure vote due to her decision to arrest campus protesters in May and survived by a very close margin, The New York Times reports.

Current President Peter Salovey will return as a full-time faculty member following his 11-year tenure. McInnis begins in July.

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Lisa Marsh Ryerson – Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University is looking toward a familiar face for its next president, selecting Provost Lisa Marsh Ryerson to lead the school forward.

Ryerson has big shoes to fill following the retirement of Paul LeBlanc, who led the school for 20 years and drove it to become the largest nonprofit university in the United States through its heavily advertised online program. However, Ryerson is fueled by her past presidential experience at Wells College (N.Y.), where she served for 18 years.

The provost plans to build on LeBlanc’s success while integrating her own strategies. “If I do nothing else, but do this, driving equitable outcomes is my biggest goal,” Ryerson told The Penmen Press, the university’s newspaper. “Being sure that we are driving equitable outcomes ties back to our mission where we work actively every day to be sure that we know each learner.”

She also plans on reimagining the campus community based on student needs.

Matthew Shaftel – Russell Sage College

After a national search, Matthew Shaftel has been named the 11th president of Russell Sage College in New York, according to a press release.

Shaftel will begin his presidency on July 1 after serving for the last seven years as dean and full professor in Ohio University’s College of Fine Arts. One of his biggest accomplishments is cultivating philanthropic support, spearheading a transformational $94 million college facilities project. As associate vice president at Florida State University, he led the development of a signature general education program.

Loras College President James Collins
Loras College President James Collins


Jim Collins – Loras College (Iowa)

Following the expiration of his five-year contract next May, Loras College President Jim Collins is looking toward a seamless departure. He served the private Catholic college as president for 20 years and worked there for over 40.

Collins is credited with helping improve retention, graduation and placement rates, according to a university statement.

Stepping down

Mike Lee – Sonoma State University (Calif.)

Mike Lee abruptly retired from Sonoma State University following his placement on administrative leave, marking another presidential casualty of protests over the Israel-Hamas war.

Lee made several concessions to pro-Palestine protestors, promising he would initiate an “academic boycott” against Israel and form an advisory council with members of a local Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. However, California State University Chancellor Mildred García informed the community that Lee made this decision without approval and described his actions as “insubordination,” Politico reports.

Lee will return to retirement after coming out to take the reins of SSU in 2023.

Lori Varlotta – California Lutheran University
California Lutheran University President Lori Varlotta
Lori Varlotta

Lori Varlotta has resigned from California Lutheran University, which may be no surprise to faculty and the board of trustees following a tumultuous last year. The faculty assembly passed a resolution 122-3 accusing the president of mismanaging funds and dividing the university’s community, VC Star reports. Varlotta requested to the board a release from her contract earlier this year as well.

However, she did receive praise from Board Chairwoman Ann Boynton for leading the university through the pandemic. Varlotta’s tenure lasted three years.

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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