Over the course of four decades, Lorna Edmundson held leadership positions at seven educational institutions in the U.S., Japan and France, serving as president, chief academic officer, and founding director/fundraiser for innovative programs, the latter at Columbia University, the American University of Paris, The Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, and Trinity, Colby Sawyer, Marymount, and Wilson colleges. Most recently, she served for a decade as president of Wilson College during a time in which the College revamped its governance structures; surpassed its comprehensive campaign goal of $45 million, raising $50 million; established the $25 million, LEED-GOLD certified, Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Math and Technology and the Institute for Science, Math and Technology; launched its Global Citizenship Initiative; and greatly strengthened Wilson’s brand. Stronger systems for evaluating institutional effectiveness and student learning were also adopted. Such progress was made despite the recession, a time in which many colleges were compelled to retrench or increase borrowing at unsustainable rates. When Lorna retired from Wilson in June of 2011, the Trustees conferred President Emerita status upon her and named the Atrium of the Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology in her honor.
Lorna is recognized as an effective leader and facilitator of institutional change, helping public and private educational institutions build on their distinctions, strengthen finances and planning, maximize resources, and forge strategic partnerships in the U.S., France, Japan, South Korea, China, and Saudi Arabia. Among the honors she received are the Athena International Leadership Award, an Honorary Degree from her Alma Mater, Rhode Island College, and an Honorary, Lifetime Membership in Rotary International. She is also featured among leaders from Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. in Halpern and Cheung’s 2008 book, Women at the Top: Powerful Leaders Tell How to Combine Work and Family.
She served many organizations, including the: ACE Commission on International Education; National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; NAICUSE; Campus Compact; Women’s College Coalition; Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities’ Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania; and Vermont Business Roundtable. Through her leadership, Wilson is a founding member of the United Nations Academic Impact Program. Currently, she assists several organizations in strengthening branding, strategic financial planning, fundraising, and international education, expanding the effectiveness of the International and NYC Women’s Forums and advancing goals for women’s education and economic status through Gamma Society International, an NGO at the U. N. As a long-time trustee of Norwich University, she chairs the Academic Affairs Committee and serves on the Executive, Presidential Evaluation, Student Success, School of Graduate and Continuing Studies/Strategic Business Initiatives Committees. Lorna especially enjoys assisting those who seek to strengthen their institution’s vision, visibility, governance, financial situation, and strategic planning, ensuring that they will always have the capacity to deliver fully on their missions, despite troubled times.
She earned her doctorate at Columbia University’s Teachers College; her M.Ed. in Counseling at Boston College, and her B.A. at Rhode Island College. She completed the Columbia Graduate School of Business’s Executive Program in Accounting and Finance for Non-Profit Managers, served as a Visiting Scholar in Columbia University’s doctoral program in College Teaching and Academic Leadership, and was a J. William Fulbright Research Scholar to Japan where she conducted research on the factors that prepare strong leaders, capable of facilitating sustainable change in education, diplomacy, and development. .
Lorna and her husband of forty years – Daniel C. Edmundson, attorney and partner in international business law at Troutman Sanders, LLC – live in New York City and Sharon, Connecticut. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.
After a long and rewarding career, I look forward to assisting new and experienced college presidents and boards of trustees in your efforts to distinguish your institutions, plan strategically, and maximize existing and potential resources. It cannot be said often enough that college and university presidencies are exceptionally demanding. During my years of service, I benefitted greatly from the support and counsel offered to me by many. In turn, I offer my help to those of you now in office and, in so doing, seek to honor the individuals who helped me. Doing this in concert with Ann Duffield and Colleagues makes the work doubly appealing, given our commitment to respect each institution’s’ distinctive culture, listen closely to your perspectives and ideas, explore possible solutions, and offer counsel based on research and evidence of best practice.
At the seven institutions where I served, I was called upon to be visionary, innovative, entrepreneurial, engaging, and effective at board and program development, fundraising and advancement. I’ve also successfully put to the test a variety of strategies for strengthening finances and building endowment. Since most of the institutions I served were tuition-dependent, I have broad experience in developing ownership among constituencies in planning strategically, increasing institutional visibility, staffing and program quality, engaging new donors and raising donor’s sights.
In addition to a firm financial foundation, I am resolute in my belief that the partnership between the president and the trustees must be a strong and healthy one if presidents and institutions are to thrive. I bring considerable experience to this task and can offer useful perspectives on healthy president/board partnerships and presidential transition.
I am a strong proponent of the liberal arts and sciences, with experience in helping organizations improve access and equity for new populations, while preparing all graduates for success through integrated programs in experiential learning, cross-cultural study, and sustainability education – practices proven to increase recruitment, retention, and student achievement. While I believe deeply in the power of women’s colleges, I can also offer valuable perspectives from experience as advisor to the Dean during Columbia College’s transition to coeducation. I’ve enjoyed leading in the design, development and construction of major facilities, including a student residence at Colby Sawyer College and Wilson’s Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology, a facility that is LEED-GOLD certified. Both were built on time and on budget, fully funded through gifts, and had transforming effects on their campuses.
My commitment to the importance of higher education deepened in the years I spent living, studying, and working in Algeria, Japan, France, and several, large U.S. inner-cities. My dedication to healthy colleges and universities was further affirmed during the last 20 years as a Fulbright Research Scholar to Japan, a Visiting Scholar in College Teaching and Academic Leadership at Columbia, and assisting four colleges build cross-college partnerships in South Korea, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, and Eastern Europe. At Wilson, I led in establishing Wilson’s Global Citizenship Initiative, Institute for Women and Girls in Science, Math and Technology, and in strengthening the Women with Children and sustainability programs. I enjoy helping presidents who would like to explore the potential of these and other initiatives for advancing our institutions.
Currently, my consulting practice is nourished and informed through my work with Ann Duffield and Colleagues, as well as through my affiliations with Performa Higher Education, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, Norwich University’s Board of Trustees, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International and its United Nations’ NGO, and the International Women’s Forum. I look forward to being of service to you and to our fine institutions.