MILWAUKEE – Sister Andrea Lee, IHM, Ph.D., one of the nation’s longest serving and accomplished college leaders announced today that she will end her service as president of Alverno College, effective June 30, 2022.
Joseph Foy, vice president of academic affairs at Alverno, will serve as interim president while a search committee, led by Board members and committee co-chairs Kathy Hudson and Kathleen O’Brien, will conduct a national search to identify a permanent successor.
“It is a distinct honor to lead a sponsored ministry of the School Sisters of St. Francis and to serve at this extraordinary institution,” said Lee. “Alverno College consistently reflects uncommon excellence, a quality both rare and remarkable. During these next months, I will be working diligently with my colleagues to execute our plan forward; to ensure that my successor finds solid and fertile ground from which to launch the college’s advances toward its next horizon of excellence.”
Lee is Alverno’s eighth president and succeeded Mary Meehan in 2016. Upon completing her presidency at the end of June, Lee will have served 25 years as a college or university president.
As president of Alverno, Lee led development of a strategic plan focused on ongoing growth in educational programs that build on the College’s traditional strengths while addressing new and emerging workforce needs. This has allowed Alverno to expand its reach to different student populations, including those in online, adult, and graduate programs, while strengthening programs for undergraduate women.
Growth at Alverno under Lee’s leadership, includes:
o Developing and strengthening undergraduate and graduate programs in social work, education, STEM, public health, neonatal nurse practitioner, community and school psychology, music therapy, and doctorates in education and nursing practice.
o Founding the School for Adult Learning and New Initiatives, an innovation center for development of degree and micro-credential programs focused on critical workforce needs, particularly in health care, leadership, education, and business;
o Expanding options in nursing education in Milwaukee and the region, including acquiring the Columbia College of Nursing and developing important partnerships with area healthcare systems;
o Launching, in partnership with Synergis Education, a rapidly growing Direct Entry Master’s of Science in Nursing program. Offered in Wisconsin and at a new site in Mesa, Arizona, this program helps address critical workforce shortages in nursing;
o Advancing diversity and equity in higher education in Milwaukee by obtaining Wisconsin’s first federal designation as an Hispanic-Serving Institution, and launching the Thea Bowman Institute for Excellence and Leadership, a full-scholarship and leadership development program for undergraduate Black women;
o Obtaining Wisconsin’s first licensed Urban Education program, and strengthening ties with Milwaukee area schools, including Milwaukee Public Schools and several other K-12 private and charter schools;
o Establishing a doctoral program in educational leadership that enrolls nearly 100 highly diverse students from across the country;
o Extending Alverno’s technological capability to meet the instructional needs of faculty and improve operational systems and cybersecurity for the College; and
o Improving the college’s four and six-year graduation rates, doubling the endowment over a five-year period, and reducing the debt by 24% while investing in new program development.
“A significant part of Sr. Andrea’s legacy is the students who graduate and leave Alverno College with competence and confidence, knowing that their lives make a difference and that they will contribute significantly toward building a more just, compassionate world,” said Donald Layden, chair of Alverno’s Board of Trustees.
Lee’s impact has not been limited to Alverno College. At the national level, she serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the 200-member Association for Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), most recently as its Chair. She also serves on the Public Policy Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and is a member of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, along with serving on the Ascension Wisconsin Board and on the steering committees of both the Higher Education Regional Alliance (HERA) and the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC).
“Sister Andrea has effectively led Alverno through some of the most historic and challenging times in higher education with grace and a fierce dedication to our Mission and students,” said Joseph Foy, vice president for academic affairs. “She is an innovative, visionary leader who works tirelessly and compassionately to serve others. Leading with a dedication to inclusion and the empowerment of students through transformational educational opportunities, she has guided the campus community by building from strength. Her tenure at Alverno has left an indelible mark on the future success of the college. It has been an honor and privilege to be part of the journey with her.”