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Lynn Pasquerella named 18th president of Mount Holyoke College

Pasquerella_hires2Lynn Pasquerella, the current provost at the University of Hartford and a doctor of philosophy specializing in medical ethics, was named the 18th president of Mount Holyoke College at a specially convened Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 31.

Pasquerella was the unanimous pick of a 16-member search committee and will begin her tenure at Mt. Holyoke at the start of next July.

Pasquerella was introduced Monday at a Chapin Auditorium ceremony, marked by the school’s tradition of ringing its historic Mary Lyon bells.

A Connecticut native, Pasquerella is a 1980 magna cum laude graduate of the all-women’s college in South Hadley, making her return in this administrative role a personal one.

In a Monday release, Media Relations Associate Mary Jo Curtis described Pasquerella’s appointment as a full-circle progression, calling the decision to name her president “the culmination of a career in higher education that began more than 25 years ago.”

Pasquerella, a first-generation college student, followed her degree from Mount Holyoke with a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brown University.

Leslie Anne Miller, a 1973 Mount Holyoke graduate and the chair of the Board of Trustees, called Pasquerella the embodiment of Mount Holyoke’s ideals and representative of a new generation of university presidents.

“Lynn represents the ideal of a Mount Holyoke education,” said Miller in the school’s statement.

“She embodies academic excellence, leadership and a deep-seated commitment to the liberal arts and educational access,” she continued. “She is in the vanguard of a new generation of academic leaders who are taking the helm at a time of great challenge and opportunity for top liberal arts colleges.”

Pasquerella’s rise to a top position in academia has been swift. She served from 1985 to 2004 as a professor of philosophy at the University of Rhode Island before she was chosen to serve as the associate dean of URI’s graduate school. In 2006, she ascended higher into URI’s graduate programs, when she was named vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school.

In 2008, Pasquerella moved west a state, as she was tabbed to be the University of Hartford’s provost and chief academic officer.

Pasquerella stayed in Hartford since her March, 2008 appointment at Hartford, and will now move north to South Hadley to lead her alma mater.

In addition to her work as a college administrator, Pasquerella has been published in various academic journals and publications.

In 2002, she co-wrote Ethical Issues in Home Health Care with Rosalind Ladd and Sherri Smith, and in 1986 she helped to pen Ethical Dilemmas in Public Administration.

She has also done research on the ethical impact of the Human Genome Project and worked on the Day Kimball Hospital Ethics Board in Putnam, Conn.

Pasquerella is presently working as a project leader on a research team for the Africa Center for Engineering Social Solutions, attempting to empower women in AIDS-afflicted parts of Kenya. She also served as an investigator on a National Science Foundation grant to promote careers in science and math for women.

Pasquerella said she is gratified to be returning to her old school and looks forward to promoting women’s education in the school’s release.

“I am honored by this opportunity to return to Mount Holyoke as its 18th president,” she said. “I look forward to joining the Mount Holyoke community in pursuit of our common objective: promoting the freedom that lies at the heart of women’s education.”

University of Hartford President Walter Harrison said that while losing Pasquerella deals a blow to the university’s management, he is proud of her advancement.

“Lynn Pasquerella is a powerful intellectual force, a dynamic and compassionate leader, and a charismatic and wonderful human being,” he said. “I am as fond of her as anyone I have ever worked with, and our whole community will be devastated that she is leaving after only a year and a half as provost,” he continued. “But we are all so very proud of her,” he added.

In addition to having attended Mount Holyoke, Pasquerella has present connections to the area; one of her twin 19-year-old sons attends Hampshire College.

Beyond serving as president, Pasquerella will also teach philosophy at Mount Holyoke, as she did at Hartford and Rhode Island.

Pasquerella takes over as president after Joanne Creighton, who had led the college since 1996, stepped down last spring.

Sam Butterfield can be reached at

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