The nationwide search for Shippensburg University’s next president ended today as Laurie Carter from Eastern Kentucky University was announced to be SU’s 17th president starting Aug. 7.
Carter will replace SU Interim President Barbara Lyman, who took office after former president George “Jody” Harpster retired on Jan. 20. Carter is currently the executive vice president and university counsel at EKU, a regional, public university with more than 16,000 students.
Frank Brogan, chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE), made the announcement during a ceremony today in Shippensburg University’s Old Main Chapel.
“Dr. Laurie Carter has made an immense body of work through her long and very illustrious career in higher education,” Brogan said. “She was unanimously agreed upon through the process.”
Carter’s position at EKU involves leading 33 departments and overseeing a budget of more than $71 million, according to a PASSHE press release. Carter also served as the director of student affairs and assistant dean at The Juilliard School and taught at Seton Hall University.
“Laurie Carter will bring to Shippensburg University a wide range of experience and success in a variety of educational settings,” said Cynthia Shapira, the chair of the PASSHE Board of Governors (BoG).
While Carter’s career as an administrator led her from New York City to Richmond, Kentucky, she is familiar with PASSHE.
“I am a graduate of the state system,” Carter said. “I look forward to coming back to the state system.”
After graduating from Clarion University with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Carter earned her master’s degree in the same field from William Paterson College. Carter then earned her doctorate in law from Rutgers School of Law-Newark.
While Carter is returning to PASSHE, her official arrival on Aug. 7 will make history for SU. Carter will be the first woman and the first black permanent president of SU that was approved by the PASSHE BoG. Lyman made similar history in January, when she was appointed as the interim president to succeed Harpster.
Two challenges Carter said she expects to face is trying to grow student enrollment and managing a budget at a time when support for higher education is dwindling.
“Shippensburg has unique challenges right now that are absolutely in my wheelhouse,” Carter said. “I hope to address those challenges early on.”
Carter’s time at EKU was largely focused on increasing enrollment and retention of students. She found there are good practices universities can use to help with recruitment and retention rates, but it is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
“It’s figuring out how to put these practices in place for Ship,” Carter said. “Each university is different.”
Despite enrollment and budget challenges, Carter said SU will be successful when everyone works as a team.
“Shippensburg University is poised for greatness,” Carter said. “If we work together as a community we will not only change the trajectory of this campus but we will also forge with the Shippensburg community, the region, the state of Pennsylvania to make sure that higher education receives the support it deserves and students have access to the education they deserve.”
One of the ways Carter will be able to connect and relate to some SU students is because she is a first-generation college graduate.
“It really gives me a sense of where many of the students of Shippensburg are coming from,” Carter said. “I have that perspective and I think it will be very helpful.”
Carter strives to be student focused in her current role at EKU and plans to carry that goal to SU, she said. Carter wants to make sure SU is recruiting the best and brightest students and help them be successful, she said.
“Student success has been at the core of my work and it will continue to be at the core of my work as I join the Shippensburg family,” Carter said. “Shippensburg was a perfect fit for my skill set and the perfect opportunity for me to come back.”
Lyman will remain the interim president until Carter takes over on Aug. 7, but Lyman was thanked at the ceremony for her hard work during the presidential search and transition process.
“Thank you to Barbara for her steady leadership,” Brogan said. Being an interim at any role is tough, he said, but it is hard to make sure the university is still moving forward.
“We will not forget the work of our interim president Barbara Lyman and her staff for their good work,” said Michael Schaul, SU’s Council of Trustees chair. “Our next priority is to support President Carter as she adds her work to protect and grow our university.”