Sweet Briar president leaving to lead Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
President Jo Ellen Parker has announced she will leave Sweet Briar College in August 2014 to assume the presidency of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The Sweet Briar College Board of Directors has regretfully accepted her resignation while congratulating her on her new position.
An interim president will be appointed later this spring to allow for an orderly transition. Parker will continue to serve as president until an interim is named and will provide all appropriate assistance during the transition. Plans to search for a permanent replacement will be announced later this summer.
“President Parker has been a dedicated and conscientious leader, as well as a force for change while honoring deep traditions at Sweet Briar,” said Paul Rice, chairman of the Sweet Briar College Board of Directors. “We regret her departure, but understand that the opportunity that the Carnegie Museums present comes once in a lifetime. We wish her and her husband, Rick Manasa, well on this new journey. The board will continue the work of the College and will move thoughtfully and aggressively in its selection of Sweet Briar’s next president.”
Parker became Sweet Briar’s 10th president in July 2009. Under her leadership, the College developed “A Plan for Sustainable Excellence” and has made significant progress in key strategic initiatives since its adoption in 2011.
Approximately $10 million has already been raised in support of the strategic plan, supporting additional scholarships for students, the renovation of 15 classrooms, and the creation of the Fund for Educational Excellence and Innovation to enhance instruction and curriculum. The faculty has also launched reviews of curriculum and of campus-wide learning goals.
In addition, a multi-million dollar renovation of the Mary Helen Cochran Library is slated for completion this fall.
During Parker’s tenure, the campus has seen growth in the diversity of its student body. For example, when she arrived in 2009, 11 percent of the first-year class identified themselves as members of underrepresented races or ethnicities. In 2012, the number was 29 percent. Numbers of Pell Grant-eligible and first-generation college students have grown similarly. Under her leadership, the College also has increased operating efficiencies.
“It has been my privilege to serve Sweet Briar College alongside its remarkable faculty and staff,” Parker said. “I am proud of what we have accomplished together to offer students an exceptional educational experience, and I remain confident in the direction we are taking. I leave knowing that Sweet Briar is poised to take another strong step into a distinguished future.”
Prior to her appointment as Sweet Briar’s president, Parker served as executive director of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education and as president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association.
She also has served as a faculty member and administrator at her alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, and taught in the English department of Swarthmore College.
Parker earned her A.B. in English from Bryn Mawr, her M.A. in English from the University of Kansas and her Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania.