Wellesley Alumna Selected as President of Trinity College

May 2, 2014

Joanne Berger-Sweeney '79 Will Take the Helm at Trinity in July 2014

Joanne Berger-Sweeney smiles and holds up Trinity athletic jersey with her last name and number 22 on it

Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., recently named Joanne Berger-Sweeney ’79 to be its next president, following a unanimous vote by its Board of Trustees. An accomplished teacher, scholar, neuroscientist, and administrator, Berger-Sweeney will take the helm at Trinity on July 1, 2014.

Since 2010 she has been dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., serving as chief officer for the university's largest school, with more than 5,000 students. Before Tufts, she was at Wellesley, where she served for 19 years as a faculty member and associate dean.

Berger-Sweeney joined the Wellesley faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and later held the position of Allene Lummis Russell Professor in Neuroscience. Her teaching and research career at Wellesley spanned 13 years prior to being named associate dean in 2004. As associate dean, she oversaw 20 academic departments and programs in addition to her teaching and research.

She received her undergraduate degree in psychobiology from Wellesley College, an M.P.H. in environmental health sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in neurotoxicology from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Institute of Health (INSERM) in Paris, France.

“With the selection of Joanne Berger-Sweeney, we have found the right leader to renew our commitment to the value and delivery of an excellent liberal arts education,” says Chair of the Trinity Board of Trustees Paul E. Raether. “Dr. Berger-Sweeney has devoted her career to the education of students who are smart, eager to work with faculty, and ready to engage in many and varied ways across campus life.”

According to a Trinity College announcement, Berger-Sweeney was selected from an extremely well-qualified applicant pool following an extensive national search conducted by a 14-member committee composed of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees, and guided by a top-tier search firm. Berger-Sweeney is the first African American and first woman to be elected president of Trinity. She will succeed James F. Jones, Jr. as president, following his retirement after 10 years of service.

Cornelia Parsons Thornburgh, chair of the search committee and chair-elect of Trinity's Board of Trustees, says, “Dr. Berger-Sweeney rose to the top of our highly competitive candidate pool. She impressed us with her strong academic credentials, curricular innovations, collaborative nature, and enthusiasm for the Hartford community. … I strongly believe that her vision of Trinity College as an ‘elite liberal arts college with an urban pulse’ is one that will guide us, inspire us, and lead us on a path to distinction and greatness.”

photo: Patrick Raycraft / The Hartford Courant

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