Mount Holyoke College president to resign later in 2016

Mount Holyoke College’s president, Lynn Pasquerella, said Monday that she will step down at the end of the academic year to become president of the Association of American Colleges & Universities.

Pasquerella, who has led the women’s liberal arts college in South Hadley for more than five years, helped oversee a $305 million fund-raising campaign; launched an initiative that provides a paid internship for each student and connects curriculums to careers; and oversaw the creation of the Mount Holyoke Data Science Initiative and the Women in Data Science program, in collaboration with MassMutual and Smith College.

“It has been an extraordinary honor and privilege for me to serve as Mount Holyoke College’s 18th president, and I will be forever grateful for the many ways in which the members of this community have shaped both my life and my career,” Pasquerella said in a letter to the Mount Holyoke community.

Sonya Stephens, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty, will take over as acting president. Stephens, a tenured professor in French, joined the school in 2013. In her current roles, she oversees faculty governance, curriculum support, and academic budgets.


Board of Trustees chairwoman Barbara Baumann praised Pasquerella’s strong leadership, saying, “Lynn has done much to move Mount Holyoke forward, yet she is leaving at a time when significant planning efforts, transformative changes, and long-term investments are underway.”

Pasquerella will take over July 1 as the 14th president of AAC&U, a national association for the development of undergraduate liberal education.

“Throughout the search process, Dr. Pasquerella impressed the committee with her clear commitment to liberal education and inclusive excellence, which are the pillars of AAC&U’s mission; her ability to articulate those principles; and her understanding of higher education in today’s society,” according to the Kenneth P. Ruscio, president of Washington and Lee University, and chairman of the search committee.


Mount Holyoke, founded in 1837, has an enrollment of about 2,200 and offers 51 majors.

J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.