The Mary Christie Institute Presidents’ Council is a group of higher education leaders distinguished by their dedication to college student emotional and behavioral health. The Council, chaired by Dr. DeGioia, is made up of current and/or former heads of colleges and universities who share perspectives and offer input on the most pressing student affairs issues facing administrators today.
John J. DeGioia, Ph.D.
President, Georgetown University
For close to four decades, John J. DeGioia has helped to define and strengthen Georgetown University as a premier institution for education and research. A Georgetown alumnus, Dr. DeGioia served as a senior administrator and as a faculty member in the Department of Philosophy before becoming Georgetown’s 48th president in 2001.
As President, Dr. DeGioia is dedicated to deepening Georgetown’s tradition of academic excellence, its commitment to its Catholic and Jesuit identity, its engagement with the Washington, D.C. community, and its global mission. Under his leadership, Georgetown has become a leader in shaping the future landscape of higher education and has recently completed a $1.5 billion fund-raising campaign dedicated to enhancing the lifelong value of a Georgetown education.
Dr. DeGioia is a leading voice in addressing broader issues in education. He previously served as Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education and is currently Chair of the Board of Directors of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education as well as Chair of the Board for the Consortium on Financing Higher Education. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Board of Directors for the Business-Higher Education Forum, the NCAA Board of Governors, the NCAA Division 1 Board of Directors and is Chair of the Division I NCAA Committee on Academics.
Connie Ledoux Book, Ph.D.
President, Elon University
Connie Ledoux Book began service as Elon’s president on March 1, 2018, bringing more than 20 years of higher education leadership to the university. She was named Elon’s ninth president after serving as provost of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, and previously serving 16 years as an Elon faculty member and senior administrator. Book has a deep belief in the transformative opportunities of higher education and a primary commitment to student success.
She has been a leader in Elon’s development as a prominent national university. As faculty fellow for strategic planning, she coordinated creation of the university’s Elon Commitment strategic plan. As associate provost, she spearheaded establishment of the Student Professional Development Center, creation of the residential campus plan, development of the Study USA program and growth of civic engagement initiatives.
In March 2015, Book was named the first female provost and dean in The Citadel’s 175-year history. She was honored with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award for leadership of college-wide diversity and inclusion efforts, including helping The Citadel achieve record enrollment for African American, female and Latinx students during her tenure.
Since rejoining Elon in 2018 as its first female president, Book has forged strong ties across the university. She led the creation of Boldly Elon: Our strategic plan for 2030 and she launched the public phase of Elon LEADS, the most ambitious comprehensive fundraising campaign in the university’s history.
Book has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in education administration and supervision from Northwestern State University (Louisiana), and a doctorate from the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, Ph.D.
President, Vassar College
Elizabeth H. Bradley has served as President of Vassar College since July 2017. In that time, she has led the College to establish new programs and partnerships in India, Rwanda, and China to bring the model of liberal arts higher education to these settings. In addition, Vassar has collaborated with Columbia University to create a 5-year BA-MPH program for Vassar students.
Bradley graduated phi beta kappa from Harvard in economics magna cum laude, earned an MBA from the University of Chicago, and a PhD in health economics from Yale University. While at Harvard, Bradley was captain of the Women’s Squash team. Bradley grew up in New Britain, Connecticut and is married to her husband John with whom she has three adult children.
Brent Chrite, Ph.D.
President, Bentley University
E. LaBrent Chrite, the ninth president of Bentley University, is an experienced higher education leader who believes business can change lives for the better. He served most recently as the president of Bethune-Cookman University (2019-2021) and dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver (2014-2019).
Over the course of his career, Dr. Chrite has helped governments, universities and foundations to develop programs and research initiatives aimed at bolstering emerging markets, entrepreneurism and capital development and reducing poverty. He has worked to strengthen economic conditions and improve business education around the world, including in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Namibia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and for the Tohono O’odhom Nation on the Sells Reservation in Arizona.
Dr. Chrite believes strongly that business can be a powerful force to solve problems that plague humanity.
As the president of Bethune-Cookman University, Dr. Chrite led the institution through an accreditation review that strengthened institutional governance and fiscal integrity. Under his leadership, the university secured continued accreditation while eliminating deficits and achieving institutional stability. In partnership with the university’s faculty senate, he overhauled faculty governance and consolidated academic units to allow more efficient operations and administrative leadership.
While serving as dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, Dr. Chrite oversaw the development of a strategic plan aligned with the changing higher education landscape, leading to new programs as well as increased enrollment, student satisfaction and revenues.
Pamela Eddinger, Ph.D.
President, Bunker Hill Community College
Pam Eddinger is president of Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), the largest of 15 community colleges in Massachusetts. Dr. Eddinger began her tenure at BHCC in 2013 and previously served as president of Moorpark College in Southern California from 2008.
Dr. Eddinger’s service in the Community College movement spans more than 25 years, with senior posts in academics and student affairs, communications and policy, and executive leadership. Dr. Eddinger serves on a number of boards and commissions, including the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), GBH Boston, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, the Boston Foundation (TBF), the Massachusetts Workforce Development Board, the Boston Private Industry Council, Achieving the Dream (ATD), the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, and the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AACU). Dr. Eddinger was honored in 2016 by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Barnard College and her master’s and doctorate in Japanese Literature from Columbia University.
Marion Ross Fedrick, M.P.A
President, Albany State University
Marion Ross Fedrick was appointed as the 10th president of Albany State University on August 14, 2018, by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. Fedrick previously served as interim president and interim executive vice president of the university. Spanning nearly thirty years of senior leadership experience, Fedrick has served in a variety of private and public sector roles.
Committed to ensuring students realize their full potential, Fedrick believes every student deserves access to an excellent and affordable education. A two-time graduate of the University of Georgia, Fedrick holds a bachelor’s degree in adult education, with a concentration in organizational development, and a master’s degree in public administration.
A hallmark of Fedrick’s presidency is her focus on providing the ideal student experience. One which focuses on preparing students for professional careers while ensuring the entirety of the student’s wellbeing is cared for. Since 2018 President Fedrick has used her commitment towards achieving excellence to drive new initiatives including a redesign of the institution’s academic colleges, approval of the University System of Georgia’s first nexus degrees, and the design and implementation of the university’s integrated student success model. As a result of her laser focus on this ideal, the University has achieved a sixteen percent increase in retention, and a six percent increase in student enrollment. As a champion for student wellness, Fedrick has expanded access and opportunities for ASU students by entering into partnerships that increase the available campus-wide student resources.
Due to her widely known commitment to addressing student wellness, Fedrick is highly sought after to contribute to statewide initiatives including the University System of Georgia’s (USG) Mental Health Task Force, and Georgia’s COVID-19 Health Equity Council. Her leadership on the Health Equity Council has helped to increase the effectiveness of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s statewide outreach to communities most affected by COVID-19, and to ensure the equitable distribution and administration of the COVID-19 vaccination.
In demonstration of her commitment to student success, racial and social equity, and the power of community, Fedrick has been a spokesperson for access, equity, and fairness. The intersection of her vision, passion, and broad leadership capabilities have placed Fedrick in key leadership roles throughout her career. Serving as the USG vice chancellor of human resources, Fedrick has led strategic initiatives relating to effective university administration, leadership development and all human resources planning efforts. She has also served at Clark Atlanta University, Emory University Hospitals, State of Georgia’s Office of State Personnel Administration, AT&T, and the former BellSouth Corporation.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Georgia, she and her husband, Horace, who is a 34-year law enforcement veteran, have one daughter, Sarah.
Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D.
President, Howard University
Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick was appointed the seventeenth president of Howard University in 2014. He previously served as provost and chief academic officer. Most recently, the Howard University Board of Trustees selected Dr. Frederick to serve as the distinguished Charles R. Drew Professor of Surgery.
Dr. Frederick has advanced Howard University’s commitment to student opportunity, academic innovation, public service, and fiscal stability. He has overseen a series of reform efforts, including the expansion of academic offerings, establishing innovative programs to support student success and the modernization of university facilities.
Dr. Frederick received his B.S and M.D. from Howard University. Following his post-doctoral research and surgical oncology fellowships at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Frederick began his academic career as associate director of the cancer center at the University of Connecticut. Upon his return to Howard University, his academic positions included associate dean in the College of Medicine, division chief in the Department of Surgery, director of the Cancer Center and deputy provost for Health Sciences. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business in 2011.
Dr. Frederick is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, abstracts, and editorials and is a widely recognized expert on disparities in healthcare and medical education. His medical research focuses on narrowing racial, ethnic and gender disparities in cancer-care outcomes, especially pertaining to gastrointestinal cancers.
Dr. Frederick was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Humana Inc. He is a member of surgical and medical associations including the American Surgical Association and the American College of Surgeons.
In 2017, he was named “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine and in 2015 was named “Male President of the Year” by HBCU Digest. Most recently, Dr. Frederick was named “Nonprofit Leader of the Year” by the Washington Business Journal.
Paula A. Johnson, M.D., M.P.H.
President, Wellesley College
Paula A. Johnson, president of Wellesley College, is an innovator recognized globally for advancing, promoting, and defending the education, health, and well-being of women. This critically important work is deeply informed by her broad range of experience as a pathbreaking physician-scientist and educator who is an expert in health care, public health, and health policy.
President Johnson has dedicated her scientific and medical career to furthering our knowledge of the biological differences between women and men. She has led the way in ensuring that research findings are effectively translated in order to improve health care for women and has used her voice to effect important changes in policy so that sex differences are included in research. By uncovering gender biases in these arenas and advancing science, she has helped transform how medicine is practiced and how research is conducted, touching the lives of countless women.
Before coming to Wellesley, President Johnson founded and served as the inaugural executive director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology and was chief of the Division of Women’s Health, both at Brigham and Women’s Hospital—a Harvard teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading academic medical centers. Central to the Connors Center’s approach is its work to further our understanding of the intersection of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, and other social determinants of health. President Johnson developed the center’s efforts to both undertake cutting-edge research and translate it into outstanding clinical care for women, and she oversaw the center’s work to utilize its research and care models to better educate the next generation of physicians and scientists. Her vision for achieving sustainable improvement in women’s health is reflected in the Connors Center’s unique approach to all aspects of health throughout the lifespan.
A cardiologist, President Johnson was also the Grayce A. Young Family Professor of Medicine in Women’s Health at Harvard Medical School, a professorship named in honor of her mother, and a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Her research and the research, health care models, and training programs of the Connors Center have had an impact on women across the country by helping to shape health care and health policy reforms. Her work has also influenced and educated emerging leaders beyond the borders of the United States who seek to improve the health of women globally. In 2018, President Johnson co-chaired the landmark report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, titled Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools and college campuses across the country, President Johnson joined Massachusetts Governor Baker’s 14-member Higher Education Working Group (HEWG) to develop a framework to safely reopen campuses. She also chairs the Massachusetts Higher Education Testing Group. Her 2021 essay, “Learning the lessons of Covid, in order to teach them,” was published by the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership.
President Johnson is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine, the nation’s leading advisory organization providing expertise on issues relating to biomedical science, medicine, and health. She has been recognized as a national leader in medicine by the National Library of Medicine and has received several honorary degrees and numerous awards for her contributions to science, medicine, and public health. Most recently, she received the Stephen Smith Medal for Distinguished Contributions in Public Health by the New York Academy of Medicine.
She earned international acclaim for her 2013 TED Talk, “His and hers…healthcare,” which continues to raise awareness of the crucial need to understand sex differences in treating disease.
Her vision, research, and ability to lead at the intersection of education, health care, and public health have earned President Johnson key leadership roles in organizations around the world. She chaired the board of the Boston Public Health Commission and was a member of the National Institutes of Health Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health. She has served on numerous national and international boards, and currently serves on the Abiomed Board of Directors.
Since becoming president of Wellesley in July 2016, she has advanced women’s higher education, championing cross-campus efforts to integrate the ideals of inclusive excellence into every aspect of academic and residential life. She has matched that with a belief that health and wellness are crucial to academic and personal success, reimagining how a college promotes resilience, resolve, and balance in its students at a time when this is needed most. Under her leadership, the College is also developing new opportunities in STEM fields by drawing on the synergies found at the intersection of science, the humanities, and social sciences.
President Johnson attended Harvard and Radcliffe colleges, received her A.B., M.D., and M.P.H. degrees from Harvard, and trained in internal medicine and cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.
Marty Meehan, M.P.A., J.D.
President, University of Massachusetts
Marty Meehan is the 27th president and first undergraduate alumnus to lead the five-campus University of Massachusetts system. A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, President Meehan was elected to the presidency after eight successful years as chancellor of his alma mater, UMass Lowell, leading the campus to top-tier national status and improving its performance in every sphere of activity, including enrollment, student success, fundraising, and auxiliary revenue generation.
Under President Meehan’s leadership, UMass has achieved milestones in enrollment growth, research expansion, financial aid funding and statewide economic impact. In addition, the UMass School of Law earned full ABA accreditation and has seen the academic credentials of its incoming students and bar pass rates rise.
During his 14 years in Congress, he served on the House Armed Services and Judiciary committees and established a national reputation for his legislative leadership. He won praise for his efforts to protect the public from the health risks of tobacco, and he was a central figure in campaign finance reform. In addition to his degree from UMass Lowell, Meehan earned a master’s degree in public administration from Suffolk University in 1981 and a juris doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1986.
Lee Pelton, Ph.D.
Former President of Emerson College
Lee Pelton is the former president of Emerson College and the current President of The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations with $1.6 billion dollar in assets. He is a nationally and internationally known speaker and writer on the value of a liberal education and the importance of leadership development, civic engagement, and diversity in higher education. He came to Emerson on July 1, 2011, after serving for 13 years as the president of Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.
He is a well-respected thought and innovation leader, recognized by Boston Magazine as 11th on 100 Most Influential Bostonians, Robert Coard Distinguished Leadership Medal 2021, Boston Chamber of Commerce as Distinguished Bostonian 2020, June 2020, Boston Racial Equity Fund (chair), Racial Justice Grant in Honor of Lee Pelton, $100,000 grant to be distributed to selected non-profits, EOS Foundation, 2020, The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities, 2020, in Boston Business Journal, 50 Most Powerful Leaders in Boston, October, 2020 and 2018; Boston Magazine Power Issue, One of The 100 Most Influential People in Boston, April 2018, Boston Magazine’s May 2017 Power Issue: The 21 Most Powerful People in Boston Business and in its May 2014 Power Issue: The Power of Ideas: 75 Bold Thinkers Who Are Shaping Our City and the World. Other awards include Boston’s 100 Most Influential People of Color (Get Konnected!, 2016), the Rosoff Award 20/20 (The Ad Club, April 2016), the Diversity Leadership Award (The National Diversity Council, October 2015), the Sabra Award (Israeli Stage, November 2014), Boston 50 on Fire, recognizing 50 leading innovators in Boston(BostInno, November 2014), Speak the Truth Award (Student Immigrant Movement, December 2014), and the Champion of Freedom Award (Freedom House, March 2012).
Nicholas S. Zeppos, J.D.
Chancellor Emeritus, Vanderbilt University
Nicholas S. Zeppos is Chancellor Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor of Law and Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He served as Vanderbilt University’s eighth chancellor from 2008-19. He joined the Vanderbilt law faculty in 1987 and prior to his service as Chancellor served as Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.
An esteemed legal scholar, teacher, and university leader, Zeppos teaches Civil Procedure and seminars on American politics and history. He currently serves as a member of the board to Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital and was recently elected as a Corporation Member of Mass General Brigham Incorporated. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Center for Effective Lawmaking and a Faculty Affiliate for the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions.
Under Zeppos’ leadership, Vanderbilt University has become one of America’s foremost research institutions. With a strong commitment to access, community, and inclusion, in 2008 Zeppos led the launch of Opportunity Vanderbilt, the university’s pioneering financial aid program, which replaced all undergraduate student loans with scholarships. Zeppos was also instrumental in planning and executing Vanderbilt’s residential college system, and its pioneering Martha R. Ingram Freshmen Commons.
Zeppos also placed a constant focus on ensuring Vanderbilt is a welcoming and inclusive environment. He created the role of vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer and has been an outspoken advocate for the university’s imperative to foster opportunities, respect, and safety for all. In 2016 he ended a decades-long controversy by removing the name “Confederate Memorial Hall” from one of the university’s residence halls. He also led efforts to honor and tell the stories of university trailblazers, including Perry Wallace, who broke the color barrier in SEC basketball.
Mental health and care and treatment for those with mental illness was a top priority during Zeppos’ time. He helped lead a university-wide campaign to foster a culture of openness, honest reflection, and brave dialogue about mental health. Zeppos’ “GO THERE” campaign to address mental wellness and early diagnosis and care for mental illness remains a pathbreaking initiative. Substantial investments in basic and translational science to spark and develop new treatments for those who suffer from mental illness were part of the “bench to bedside” strategy Zeppos developed and implemented in this area long neglected stigmatized on and off university campuses.
In 2016 Zeppos led the complex transition of the university and Vanderbilt University Medical Center into two separate legal and financial entities, a prescient restructuring that positioned both institutions for long-term success. In Zeppos’ time, the endowment increased from a low of $2.9 billion after the financial crisis of 2008, to $6.4 billion. Almost half of the money in the endowment was added during Zeppos’ eleven-year tenure.
Throughout his career, Zeppos has been an effective advocate for universities and the essential value and impact of academic research at the state and federal level and a vigorous and successful defender of critical funding for research and education. In 2015 he co-chaired the bipartisan U.S. Senate Task Force on Government Regulation of Higher Education and conducted the foremost national study on the high cost of regulatory burdens on America’s research universities. He served as the chair of the Association of American Universities Board of Directors and served as a board member for the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and as president of the Southeastern Conference.
Strong support for free speech and civil dialogue with a diversity of opinions and perspectives also marked Zeppos’ tenure and his overall vision for campus culture. To promote inquiry and dialogue, he has hosted a range of globally renowned speakers from all sides of the political spectrum and a variety of disciplines, including President George W. Bush, President Joe Biden, former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams, authors Charles Krauthammer and Peggy Noonan, former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, actor David Diggs, and leading cancer researcher and author Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, among many others.
He has been recognized with multiple awards, including INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s Giving Back Award in 2016, the Tennessee Tribune’s “Person of the Year” in 2016, and the Jack C. Massey Leadership Award from Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee in 2011.
Prior to serving as Chancellor and Provost, Zeppos had won numerous teaching awards. Upon his return to the faculty in 2020 he won his sixth law school teaching award.
He is the incoming CEO & President of The Boston Foundation (I June, 2021), one of the nation’s leading philanthropic organizations with $1.6 billion dollar in assets. In 2020, The Boston Foundation awarded $215 million dollars in grants.
He is a well-respected thought and innovation leader, recognized by Boston Magazine as 11th on 100 Most Influential Bostonians, Robert Coard Distinguished Leadership Medal 2021, Boston Chamber of Commerce as Distinguished Bostonian 2020, June 2020, Boston Racial Equity Fund (chair), Racial Justice Grant in Honor of Lee Pelton, $100,000 grant to be distributed to selected non-profits, EOS Foundation, 2020, The Governor’s Awards in the Humanities, 2020, in Boston Business Journal, 50 Most Powerful Leaders in Boston, October, 2020 and 2018; Boston Magazine Power Issue, One of The 100 Most Influential People in Boston, April 2018, Boston Magazine’s May 2017 Power Issue: The 21 Most Powerful People in Boston Business and in its May 2014 Power Issue: The Power of Ideas: 75 Bold Thinkers Who Are Shaping Our City and the World. Other awards include Boston’s 100 Most Influential People of Color (Get Konnected!, 2016), the Rosoff Award 20/20 (The Ad Club, April 2016), the Diversity Leadership Award (The National Diversity Council, October 2015), the Sabra Award (Israeli Stage, November 2014), Boston 50 on Fire, recognizing 50 leading innovators in Boston (BostInno, November 2014), Speak the Truth Award (Student Immigrant Movement, December 2014), and the Champion of Freedom Award (Freedom House, March 2012).