After a three-year run as president at Shippensburg University, Laurie A. Carter will move on to become the next president of Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Lawrence, a 1,555-student private liberal arts college and conservatory of music, made the announcement Thursday. Carter becomes the 17th president in the 174-year history of Lawrence on July 1, succeeding President Mark Burstein, who announced in September that he would step away at the close of this academic year after eight years leading the college.
“Lawrence’s integration of the college and the conservatory has produced a rich campus culture informed by academics, athletics, and the arts and inspires creativity across all endeavors,” Carter said in a video message on the university’s website. “… As a sitting president, I am well aware of the challenges facing higher education, but I know the Lawrence community is ready to work together to continue the traditions of excellence while ensuring a bright future for the students, the university, and the community.”
Carter is a 1984 graduate of Clarion State College (now Clarion University) with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She earned a master of arts degree in communications in 1987 from William Paterson College and a doctor of law in 1993 from Rutgers School of Law-Newark.
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For Carter, the move to Lawrence brings her back to a private school setting, one with investments in the performing arts and a deeply ingrained liberal arts philosophy. She spent 25 years in leadership positions at the Juilliard School, a private performing arts college in New York City. She was Juilliard’s first African American administrator and taught on the liberal arts and graduate faculty. She developed the institution’s student affairs program, launched diversity initiatives, created the Office of the General Counsel, and co-created the Jazz Studies program.
She took over the leadership position at Shippensburg in 2017. Some of her accomplishments at Ship include creating a first-year experience program, a first-generation college students’ program, a comprehensive student success center, and an academic center for student-athletes, according to a news release from Lawrence.
In addition, she collaborated with the local business community to create a downtown location for Shippensburg University’s Centers of Excellence, transformed the gateway to campus into a new Alumni and Welcome Center, and renovated a decommissioned steam plant into a home for the state system’s first School of Engineering.
Carter’s efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion at Shippensburg were recognized by the publication Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, which named her one of 25 outstanding women in higher education. Her efforts have included the addition of an executive level chief diversity officer, renovation of a multicultural center, creation of a PRIDE Center, and expansion of the Title IX office.
Most recently, she created an Anti-Racism Institute to foster racial understanding.
“For the last three years, I’ve been leading a university with a laser focus on equitable student success,” Carter said. “It’s work that I’m passionate about and have spent my career committed to.”
Lawrence ran a six-month search process before selecting Carter. The Presidential Search Committee, led by chair Cory Nettles ’and vice chair Sarah Schott, said the “breadth, depth, and diversity” of the candidate pool was robust.
“We wanted someone who would deepen the learning opportunities for Lawrence students, someone who was capable of managing the tremendous financial challenges that are buffeting liberal arts colleges all across the country, someone who would help us continue down the journey we’re on of diversity and inclusion and our goal to become an anti-racist institution, and someone who understands the hallmarks of a private, residential, liberal arts college,” Nettles said. “There was one candidate who rose to the top of our list and who stayed there, and that candidate is Laurie Carter.”
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