COLCHESTER, Vt., Jan. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The full community of Saint Michael's College -- students, faculty, administrators and staff – packed into McCarthy Arts Center on campus Tuesday morning (January 30) to meet and welcome Dr. Lorraine Sterritt, who was named last Friday (January 26) to be the College's 17th president. She will be the first woman to lead the Catholic, residential liberal arts college.
"When I first started exploring this opportunity, Saint Michael's stole my heart," said Sterritt, who charmed the large audience by likening the whole process to online dating. "The more I fell in love with Saint Michael's, the more I realized how fundamentally the institution's values and mine were in alignment" -- devoted to learning, social justice, hospitality, respect of the dignity of every human being and stewardship of the planet, she said, adding, "The spirit of Saint Michael's came through loud and clear at every turn."
Sterritt proposed taking a "Triple A" approach to her work, which she said stands for "analysis assessment and action." That means "building on the great work" of current President Jack Neuhauser, making an assessment of possible bold new directions and taking actions on the best of those options. "All of that takes a village and we we'll do it together," she said. "As a person called to a life of service, I am profoundly honored to be admitted to your company."
During the half-hour gathering, the assembled community heard from members of the Search Committee – Trustees Chair and Committee Chair Mary Kate McKenna '80, Mike New, former VP of Human Resource and Administrative Service, who emceed the half-hour gathering; Kimoi Seale '06, assistant dean of students/assistant director for the Center for Multicultural Affairs, representing staff, Emily Ferreri '19 representing the student body, and Professor of French Peter Vantine, representing faculty. Sterritt greeted and thanked each with a warm hug.
Directly following the community event, area press gathered with Dr. Sterritt and the Search Committee and administration leaders in the Hoehl Welcome Center for brief remarks and interviews. The remainder of her day on campus included lunch with the College's founding Edmundite community, a stop in the Campus Book Store to stock up on Saint Michael's and Purple Knight "bling," and a tour of the president's house hosted by President Neuhauser. Late in the afternoon she headed back to North Carolina, where she currently serves as president of Salem Academy and college in Winston-Salem N.C.
The Presidential Search Committee announced its selection Friday to the Saint Michael's community. Dr. Sterritt will assume her duties as president in July 2018.
The College shared more of Dr. Sterritt's background during last Friday's announcement. That information follows from the original press release:
"The Committee is thrilled to have Dr. Sterritt, a scholar and experienced administrator, coming to lead the College at such a crucial time in our history," said Mary-Kate McKenna '80, Presidential Search Committee Chair, and Chair of the Saint Michael's College Board of Trustees.
Sterritt holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in French from Queen's University Belfast, and a master's degree and a doctorate in French from Princeton University. Prior to assuming the position at Salem, Sterritt served as dean for administration at Harvard College, and as a member of the faculty of arts and sciences. Prior to Harvard, Sterritt held positions as associate dean and associate vice provost and was a member of the faculty at Stanford University. Previously she had held positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Princeton University.
"Dr. Sterritt possesses a deep love of the liberal arts and a clear vision for the future of higher education," McKenna said. "She was the unanimous choice of the Board of Trustees and we all look forward to working with Dr. Sterritt in the years ahead. We are at a pivotal time in higher education and Dr. Sterritt is the visionary president we need to lead Saint Michael's College boldly into the future."
Very Reverend Stephen Hornat '72, Superior General of the Society of Saint Edmund and search committee member, said it is no surprise to him that out of the 65 applicants to apply, Sterritt would rise to the top of the list. "We are fortunate to attract someone of her caliber. Her graciousness and warmth mesh well with our Edmundite tradition of hospitality," Hornat said. "She will make a great president and will have the prayers and support of the Edmundite and larger Saint Michael's community."
Current Saint Michael's College President John J. Neuhauser said, "Saint Michael's is a special place and Dr. Lorraine Sterritt is a wonderful choice to lead the College at this time." Neuhauser said Sterritt brings "an intelligence and depth of understanding of the importance of a liberating education to our nation, and she couples this with a genuine concern for all members of the College community, students, alumni, staff and faculty. Years from now we will only grow in appreciation for the fine work of the search committee."
Biology professor Mark Lubkowitz, who participated on the search committee, said about the process, "I have been impressed by the thoughtfulness and integrity applied at every step of the search process. It is always a challenge to carefully consider all the voices in the community, but in true St. Mike's fashion, we were dedicated to getting it right." Lubkowitz added, "Presidents are expected to inspire, nurture, and bring out the best of the students, staff, and faculty. Dr. Sterritt strikes me as person who will do just that. She is the right person at the right time."
Staff also were well-represented throughout the search process by members on the committee and through a group of staff in interview sessions with final candidates. Search committee member Kellie Campbell '08 M'12 said, "Given our residential nature, staff play a huge part in the educational experience of our students. Dr. Sterritt clearly understands and appreciates this and conveyed that very well throughout the process. I am excited to work with her when she arrives."
The search committee involved student input throughout the process and student participation in the interview sessions with final candidates. Emily Ferreri '19, student representative on the search committee, said, "Dr. Sterritt strikes me as an individual who is deeply invested in the well-being of students and I believe that the student body will find her to be a visibly engaged, supportive, and inspiring leader."
Sterritt expressed her enthusiasm to join the community of Saint Michael's College. "I am very excited and deeply honored to assume the presidency of Saint Michael's College," she said. "The people with whom I met in the interview process impressed me with their dedication to learning and service to humanity grounded in Edmundite ideals. Their devotion to the welfare of humanity and to care for the environment is exemplary." Sterritt added that she and her husband, Bert Lain, "are thrilled to be joining the Saint Michael's community."
About Dr. Lorraine Sterritt
Born and raised in Ireland, Sterritt first came to the United States on vacation in 1984, when she visited New York, Boston, and Vermont, and in her words, "fell in love with Vermont." She moved to the United States in 1985.
Sterritt has a career of nearly 30 years in education in the U.S. starting at Chatham Hall, an all-girls college-preparatory boarding school in Chatham, VA, where she was Director of School and also taught French and Latin from 1985 to 1991. From 1991 to 1996 Sterritt studied at Princeton University, where she also served as Assistant Master of Wilson College. In 1996, she became associate dean of freshmen at Harvard University before moving to the University of Pennsylvania, where she served as Dean of Freshmen and Director of Academic Advising. From 2004 to 2010, she was administrator with teaching roles at Stanford University, and served as Associate Dean for Graduate and Undergraduate Studies for the School of Humanities and Sciences. From there she moved to Harvard, where she was a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University and Dean for Administration at Harvard College. Sterritt has served as president of Salem Academy and College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, since 2014.
About Saint Michael's College
Saint Michael's College, founded in the great Catholic intellectual tradition, which also recognizes the principles of social justice and compassion, is a selective, fully residential Catholic college in Vermont's beautiful Green Mountains. Our closely connected community delivers an internationally-respected liberal arts and graduate education near Burlington, one of the country's best college towns. To prepare for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives, students here grow intellectually, socially, and morally, learning to be responsible for themselves, each other and the greater world.
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SOURCE Saint Michael’s College