Biden Looks to Connecticut for Next U.S. Ed Chief, Massachusetts House Speaker DeLeo Steps Down, Reportedly Seeking Northeastern University Post

By John O. Harney

Comings and Goings …


President-elect Joe Biden chose Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona to be the next U.S. education secretary, succeeding Betsy DeVos, the champion of private schools who served as secretary since the beginning of the Trump administration. Cardona, in contrast, was raised in a housing project in Meriden, Conn., where he attended the city’s public schools then returned to work as a fourth-grade teacher and eventual principal and assistant superintendent. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and a master’s and doctorate from UConn’s Neag School of Education.

Biden also named former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy as his White House climate coordinator. Born in Boston, the graduate of UMass Boston and Tufts, McCarthy held several environmental posts in Massachusetts and was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection.

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo stepped down after leading the House for 12 years. He was reportedly exploring a post at Northeastern University, his alma mater. A lawyer, DeLeo has represented Winthrop and part of Revere, Mass., in the state Legislature since 1991. He was awarded NEBHE’s 2014 Excellence Award for Leadership. The House elected Ronald Mariano (D-Quincy) to be his successor as speaker.

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) announced that Rosanne Somerson will step down after five years as president at the end of the academic year on June 30, 2021 and take a long-deferred sabbatical. Somerson, a furniture designer, who served on NEBHE’s Commission on Higher Education & Employability, will be named RISD’s president emerita.

Franklin Pierce University appointed Simmons University Deputy Provost Catherine M. Paden to be provost and vice president for academic affairs at the Rindge, N.H.-based university, starting in July 2021.

The Baker-Polito administration in Massachusetts named Christine Nolan to be director of the Commonwealth’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) based at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. A mechanical engineer by training, Nolan will succeed Ira Moskowitz, who became CEO of the national Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute in Pittsburgh, and Farhad Vazehgoo, who served as interim director and will continue to advise the center.

Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Nabel announced she will step down as president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which she has led for 11 years, to work in a biotech company.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston announced its 2021 board of directors, with Brown University President Christina Hull Paxson becoming the new chair of the board after serving as deputy chair since 2019. New board members include: Corey Thomas, chair and CEO of Rapid7, who will serve as deputy chair; Jeanne A. Hulit, president and CEO of Maine Community Bancorp; and Lauren A. Smith, chief health equity and strategy officer for the CDC Foundation.



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