Innovative Presidential Arrangements

By John O. Harney

Sheahon Zenger

Comings and Goings …

The University of New Haven Board of Governors promoted an “innovative presidential transition plan” in which Steven H. Kaplan, who has been president of the university for the past 18 years, will become its first chancellor and CEO in July, while Sheahon Zenger, its director of athletics and recreation, will become interim president, overseeing day-to-day operations. Under the transition plan, the interim president, the provost and all vice presidents will report to the chancellor and CEO.

Gretchen Mullin-Sawicki announced she will be leave the presidency of NHTI, Concord’s Community College, late in March. Holding the post since 2019, Mullin-Sawicki supported the Concord, N.H. region by turning half of the college into an alternative care site for overflow Concord Hospital patients at the height of the pandemic. She oversaw a move of the college’s arts programs from an offsite leased location to the campus and built a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Central New Hampshire in operating the Mary Stuart Gile Early Learning Center on campus. Community College System of NH Chancellor Mark Rubinstein will serve in a dual role, leading NHTI for an interim period expected to be six months, and continuing the run the system office, which is located on the campus of NHTI. Rubinstein cast the arrangement as “an unexpected opportunity for me to learn more about our work from the institution’s vantage point, including understanding how those system and regional efforts affect the campuses.”

American International College (AIC) named Dr. Hubert Benitez, acting chief inclusion officer at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., as the 12th president of the 137-year-old institution in Springfield, Mass. He will succeed Vince Maniaci, who is who is retiring after 17 years of service to AIC. A dentist, Benitez was previously president and CEO for Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences, which was acquired by Rockhurst.

University of Maine at Farmington President Edward Serna accepted an appointment to be the 12th president of South Carolina’s Winthrop University, his alma mater, beginning in July.

Tufts University appointed Vernon Miller, a member of the Thunder Clan from the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa and a coordinator for Cornell University, as the first director of the new Indigenous Center at Tufts, developing programming for the indigenous student population at Tufts and working with the admissions team to introduce more indigenous students to the Medford, Mass.-based university.

Stonehill College named Sam Beldona, former dean of the University of Scranton’s Kania School of Management to be dean of the Easton, Mass. college’s Leo J. Meehan School of Business, and Kirill Bumin, assistant dean of the graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, to be inaugural dean of graduate studies at Stonehill.

The Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns named Ernest Almonte as the new executive director of the association representing Ocean State municipal leaders, succeeding Brian Daniels who resigned. Currently interim CFO of the Rhode Island Department of Health’s transition support team, Almonte was auditor general of Rhode Island for more than 15 years and partner in the accounting, tax and consulting firm RSM US.

Passings …

Former New Hampshire first lady Dorothy Peterson died at age 95 in Peterborough, N.H. She was the wife of New Hampshire governor and longtime NEBHE delegate and chair, Walter Peterson who died in 2011. A philanthropist, she was president of the Monadnock Community Hospital Board of Trustees and president of the Peterborough Historical Society, now known as the Monadnock Center for History and Culture, as well as on the board for the Anna Philbrook Children’s Foundation. Her son Andy Peterson, a former New Hampshire state legislator and NEBHE delegate noted, “she was able to come to this age and feel that she was ready to move on to the next stage, and she was calm and in a place of feeling complete within herself or with her life.”

Dr. Paul Farmer, the Harvard Medical School professor who founded the nonprofit Partners in Health, died at age 62. Farmer helped establish hospitals in Rwanda and Haiti and brought HIV drugs to Haiti in the early 2000s.


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