Judy Lambeth ’73, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees, announced the selection of Pareena Lawrence as the school’s next president in this letter to students, faculty, staff, and alumnae on November 29, 2016.
Hollins University has announced that Pareena Lawrence, provost and chief academic officer of Augustana College, will become the school’s 12th president. She will take office in July 2017.
Lawrence will succeed Nancy Oliver Gray, who will be retiring next June after serving as president of Hollins since 2005.
“We were intent on recruiting a president who is devoted to women’s education and the liberal arts, and is a proven leader and strategic thinker,” said Judy Lambeth ’73, chair of the Hollins University Board of Trustees. “We wanted to find an individual who embodies the values we hold dear at Hollins and can also inspire us to advance the institution even further. Pareena has all these characteristics, together with boundless energy and optimism.”
“Enabling more students to have access to transformative educational opportunities, as I have had, has been the core to my life choices,” Lawrence said. “However, it wasn’t until I was contemplating the presidency of Hollins that it hit me that everything in my life, each experience was preparing me for this extraordinary opportunity.”
Lawrence has been at Augustana, a 156-year-old, nationally ranked liberal arts college in Illinois, since 2011, and her responsibilities have gone beyond the traditional role of provost. In addition to serving as a primary architect of Augustana’s strategic plan, she has overseen an innovative set of student services, pioneered new career development initiatives, and has been a successful fundraiser and external ambassador for the college.
Lambeth described Lawrence as “a passionate believer in the power of a woman’s college. She movingly conveyed to our presidential search committee how attending a girls’ school in India changed her life. It is precisely our mission as a women’s college that has drawn Pareena to Hollins.”
“The dedicated faculty and staff members at the school gave me the freedom and support to envision who I could become,” Lawrence recalled. “They mentored me and helped me grow in determination and confidence. They instilled in me a deep sense of social responsibility and giving back to the community. My education gave me the skills to break traditional norms and the assurance that I could make something of myself based on raw talents and perseverance despite scarce resources and lack of connections.”
Lawrence, 49, graduated from the University of Delhi in 1987 with honors in economics, and two years later moved to the United States to pursue her Ph.D. in economics at Purdue University. In 1994, she joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota at Morris, where she became a full professor of economics and management in 2008.
“It is a plus that Pareena is an award-winning instructor and an accomplished scholar, with research focusing on international development and women’s issues,” Lambeth explained. She added that Lawrence’s training as an economist gives her an extensive understanding of the finances of higher education, and her various administrative roles have equipped her to deal with the array of challenges and opportunities that arise on a college campus.
“Pareena embodies all that is a Hollins woman: smart, articulate, warm, caring, and engaged, and aligned with our mission,” said Alexandra Trower ’86, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees and the presidential search committee. “She has the ability to execute with excellence while always looking ahead toward a great vision and strategy.”
“I am honored and delighted to join the Hollins community,” Lawrence said, “and I look forward to building on the tradition of excellence at the university.”
President-Elect Lawrence was officially introduced to the campus community during a special event in duPont Chapel on November 29, 2016. View her remarks here.
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