Trend-setting Leadership at COPLAC Colleges and Universities

Mary Hendrix headshotShepherd University recently announced the appointment of Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix as its sixteenth president. Dr. Hendrix is a 1974 alumna of Shepherd and a native of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. She will be the first graduate in the 144 year history of the University to serve as President.

COPLAC continues to outpace the national average in terms of gender equity at the senior leadership level. Fourteen of COPLAC’s 29 member institutions are led by women presidents/chancellors. In addition, women hold the position of Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs at 13 of our campuses.

Every COPLAC campus has hired distinguished alumni to its faculty after conducting national searches. The recruitment of highly qualified alumni at the presidential level, however, is a more recent development.

In 2012, the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education selected Brigadier General Francis L. Hendricks, a 1979 graduate of Mansfield University, to serve as President of his alma mater. After a successful thirty year career in the Air Force, including five years as commander and deputy commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Dallas, Texas, General Hendricks has turned his attention to making Mansfield University the premier public liberal arts institution in the State of Pennsylvania.

Like General Hendricks, Dr. Mary Hendrix brings to her new position at Shepherd a long list of leadership successes. Prior to her “return” to Shepherd, she served as President and Chief Scientific Officer of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. She has been a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils, the National Human Genome Research Institute Council, and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Board of Scientific Advisors.

In the case of both of these new academic leaders, an undergraduate experience at a public liberal arts institution was the ideal preparation for the challenges of leadership in two distinct professional fields. And those professional experiences are now helping to shape the future and reaffirm the value of the liberal arts.

*Photo contributed by Shepherd University. 

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