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Núñez, Alexander Named Presidents-in-Residence

Former Lasell, current Eastern Connecticut State presidents will join the HGSE community this fall

The Harvard Graduate School of Education has announced two new appointments to its Presidents-in-Residence program. Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU), and Michael Alexander, former president of Lasell University, will join HGSE for the 2023–24 academic year.

“I am thrilled that we will be joined by two highly regarded and accomplished Presidents-in-Residence who will bring varying perspectives on higher education leadership in the 21st century,” said Senior Lecturer Francesa Purcell, faculty director of the Presidents-in-Residence program. “Both Elsa and Michael have superlative track records leading institutions and serving on the boards of national postsecondary organizations. Most critically, they are reflective and thoughtful practitioners who will connect with and inspire HGSE students.”

As presidents-in-residence, Núñez and Alexander will teach and mentor students in HGSE’s higher education concentration, contributing to courses and providing valuable insight based on their long careers as university presidents.

Núñez has served as president of Eastern Connecticut since 2006 and brings a wealth of experience to HGSE through her experience in executive-level roles at higher education institutions. At ESCU, she shepherded several major infrastructure projects, including an expanded and remodeled student center, a state-of-the-art science building, and a Center for Community Engagement.

Prior to her presidency, she served as vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the University of Maine systems and provost and vice president for academic affairs at Lesley University. She’s also worked at City University of New York as university dean for academic affairs and vice chancellor for student affairs.

“The Presidents-in-Residence program is an important component of the School of Education’s Higher Education offerings,” said Núñez. “I am very proud to have been asked to serve as a faculty member in the program and look forward to working with very talented students.”

Alexander recently announced his departure from Lasell, where he served as president since 2007. His tenure as president at Lasell was a time of vast growth and expansion in which campus enrollment increased 80 percent, full-time faculty doubled, and there was a 90 percent increase in annual giving. The university completed a three-year capital campaign that raised more than $15 million for new programs and the endowment, and partially funded a new Science and Technology Center.

Before his presidency, he served as assistant dean of freshman for Harvard College while completing his Ed.D. work at HGSE. He also has experience in media and entertainment, including a stint as vice president and chief financial officer of USA Network.

“I am honored that I will have the opportunity to be a resource to HGSE students and my higher education colleagues by sharing the knowledge and experience I have gained as the president of Lasell University,” said Alexander.

Núñez and Alexander are set to replace the current pair of Presidents-in-Residence: former Amherst College president Biddy Martin and Javier Cevallos, who served as president of Framingham State University.

Long’s announcement of the 2023–24 Presidents-in-Residence also came with the surprise news that — thanks to generous donations from alumni and past Presidents-in-Residence — the program is now fully endowed. It will also be renamed in honor of Senior Lecturer Judith Block McLaughlin, who started the initiative at HGSE in 2001 and who will retire after this academic year.


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