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Royal, Wippman Named Presidents-in-Residence

Former presidents of Holyoke Community College, Hamilton College will join the HGSE community this fall

The Harvard Graduate School of Education has announced the latest members of its Judith Block McLaughlin Presidents-in-Residence (PIR) Program. Christina Royal, president of Holyoke Community College, and David Wippman, president of Hamilton College, will join HGSE for the 2024-25 academic year.

As presidents-in-residence, Wippman and Royal will teach and mentor students in HGSE’s higher education degree offerings, contributing to courses and providing valuable insight based on their long careers as university presidents. Senior Lecturer Francesca Purcell, faculty director of the Presidents-in-Residence Program, shared that the latest appointments offer unique insights from across the higher educational leadership landscape.

“Their varying perspectives on higher education leadership in the 21st century will enrich and deepen the learning experiences for our students in the residential higher education concentration and in the online higher education pathway,” Purcell said. “Christina has extensive experience leading community colleges and David brings insights leading a small liberal arts college with both boasting exceptional records advancing equity, opportunity, and excellence across the national higher education landscape. Importantly, they are thoughtful practitioners who will engage with and inspire HGSE students.”

Dozens of college and university presidents have taken part in the PIR Program since it was created in 2001. Royal is the first community college president, and she said she is “honored” by the distinction.

Christina Royal
Christina Royal
Courtesy of Holyoke Community College

“It is important for Harvard graduate students who are studying higher education to understand that community colleges are essential to the ecosystem of public post-secondary education and the vital role they play as an economic engine for society,” Royal said. “I’ve dedicated my career to higher education, with a particular focus on historically marginalized and racially minoritized students.”

Royal, who announced her departure as Holyoke’s president in the spring of 2023, made history as the school’s first woman of color president when she was appointed in 2017.

Her tenure saw the school launch programs promoting diversity and equity in higher education, working with the Holyoke Housing Authority and Westfield State University to support low-cost housing for students. Royal also advocated for programs to develop child care options for students with children and a student emergency fund for sudden expenses. Upon her retirement, an annual equity award at Holyoke was started and named in her honor.

“I’m looking forward to engaging in meaningful discussions with Harvard learners to deepen their understanding of the complexities of our American system of higher education,” said Royal. “Through these discussions, my hope is that they continue to unlearn the systems and structures that no longer work for us and re-learn ways to strengthen the ones that do.”

Royal earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Marist College in 1994 and received an M.A. in educational psychology in 2003. Royal received her Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning from Capella University in 2007. Her teaching career has included 15 years at Marist, another seven at Cuyahoga Community College and a stint as provost and chief academic officer at Inver Hills Community College.

Wippman, who has served as Hamilton’s president since 2016, announced his retirement at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. A recognized authority in international law, Wippman has taught about ethnic conflict, public international law, international criminal law, and international human rights.

His tenure at Hamilton has included the development of the College’s strategic plan, including a record-breaking Because Hamilton campaign to raise $400 million for College priorities, including $120 million for student scholarship aid. Wippman’s office prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion, and developed new programs to support student advising, digital fluency, and cross-boundary political thought and complex social issues.

Wippman was previously named dean of the University of Minnesota Law School in 2008. He also served as a professor and associate dean at Cornell Law School as well as vice provost for international relations at Cornell University.

“Serving as a President-in-Residence is a wonderful opportunity to work with and learn from future higher education leaders at a time when higher education leadership has become more challenging than ever,” Wippman said. “It's an honor to join a program with such distinguished faculty and talented students.”

David Wippman
David Wippman
Courtesy of Hamilton College

A former U.S. Court of Appeals law clerk, Wippman served as a director in the National Security Council’s Office of Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs, working on war crimes issues, the International Criminal Court, economic sanctions, and U.N. political issues. Wippman earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1976, a master’s degree from Yale in 1978, and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1982.

The Presidents-in-Residence program was fully endowed in 2023 and renamed in honor of former Senior Lecturer Judith Block McLaughlin, who retired at the end of the 2022-23 academic year. McLaughlin first started the Presidents-in-Residence program in 2001, and two decades later it continues to serve as an opportunity for Ed School students to gain new perspectives and learn lessons from groundbreaking educational leaders sharing their own experiences and insights.

“Fundamentally, students need to understand themselves as leaders, what drives their decision-making processes, and who they are as people, in order to effectively lead others,” Royal said. “We spend a lot of time educating students into a contemporary image of a leader, although the best preparation for leadership is learning to be authentically themselves and share their unique gifts, talents, and strengths with others.”


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