In Vermont, a New Leader for a New Public System, Plus Warner Returns to RI and Private Vermont Law School Names New Prez

By John O. Harney

Comings and Goings …

Parwinder Grewal (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

Parwinder Grewal, an entomologist and administrator at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), was named as the first president of Vermont State University (VSU), which will launch in summer 2023 with the consolidation of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University and Vermont Technical College. The flagship University of Vermont and Community College of Vermont will remain under separate current governance models. Pending approval by the New England Commission of Higher Education, the inaugural VSU president will also serve as president of Castleton, Northern Vermont and Vermont Technical for the 2022-23 academic year as they transition to Vermont State University. Grewal is a dean and special assistant to the president at UTRGV, which completed a similar consolidation process in 2013. He served UTRGV as founding dean of its College of Sciences, dean of its Graduate College and executive vice president for research, graduate studies and new program development.

Former Rhode Island Commission of Higher Education Jack Warner was chosen interim president of Rhode Island College. He’ll succeed Frank Sánchez, who chose not to renew his contract. Warner served as Rhode Island commissioner’s from 2002 through 2009, when he became CEO and executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents. Before those jobs, Warner served as vice chancellor of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and worked as an administrator at Bristol Community College.

Vermont Law School named  Widener University law school dean and professor Rodney A. Smolla as the next president of the Green Mountain State’s only law school, starting July 1. In yet another example of increasingly common leadership innovations in higher education, the law school’s board of trustees said it split the president and dean positions into two, allowing the president to concentrate on higher-level strategies. A new strategic plan aims to build on the private law school’s highly regarded environmental program and first-of-its-kind restorative justice program. Smolla also served as president of Furman University in South Carolina and as dean of the law schools at Washington and Lee University and the University of Richmond, both in Virginia. At Vermont Law School, he will succeed Beth McCormack, who has served as interim president and dean since January 2021, becoming the first woman to lead the law school.

Bowdoin College President Clayton Rose announced he will step in June 2023 after eight years leading the Brunswick, Maine liberal arts college. Before joining Bowdoin, Rose worked in finance, including as vice chair and chief operating officer of the investment bank J.P. Morgan.

Sheila Adamus Liotta, the founding dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Providence College, was named vice president of academic affairs at Saint Anselm College’s, succeeding Br. Isaac Murphy, who is now executive vice president.

Passings …

Leonard Alkins, who served as president of the Boston NAACP from 1995 to 2006 and as a key aide in the Massachusetts Legislature, died at age 77.


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