Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, announced Tuesday its next president will be current Augustana College provost and dean of the college Pareena Lawrence.
"In launching the search, the trustees' goals were clear: we were intent on recruiting a president who is devoted to women’s education and the liberal arts and someone who is a proven leader and strategic thinker," wrote Judy Lambeth, chairwoman of the Hollins board of trustees, in a letter to Hollins students, faculty, staff and alumni.
Lawrence will continue working at Augustana through June before beginning her tenure at the private women's university in July. She will succeed current Hollins President Nancy Oliver Gray, who is retiring.
Hollins University was founded in 1842 as the first chartered women's college in Virginia. It has 639 undergraduate female students and 163 co-ed graduate students.
"We did not limit our search to those in higher education; we considered candidates who were in business, government and other non-profits," said Lambeth. "As it turned out, we found the best person right on a liberal arts campus."
Lawrence joined Augustana in 2011, where she has overseen the academic programs of the college, developed new career development initiatives and worked with faculty members to help improve student learning outcomes.
"She's tireless," said Augustana associate dean Wendy Hilton-Morrow, who was part of the search committee who hired Lawrence at Augustana. "I've found Pareena to be a very collaborative leader. She seeks input from others. She played a key role in the strategic planning process at Augustana. And that became something that involved all areas of campus."
A native of India who immigrated to the United States after earning degrees from the University of Delhi, Lawrence will become the first minority woman to head Hollins.
"I’m confident that her impact on this campus will be felt by generations of Augustana students," Augustana President Steve Bahls wrote in an email to students, faculty and staff. "And I know she will make an extraordinary difference at Hollins."
Bahls will select an outside firm to assist the college in selecting a successor for Lawrence. Augustana communications director Sam Schlouch said Bahls plans to choose a firm within the next week.
An internal search committee composed of the administrative cabinet, faculty council, student government association and board of trustees will help Bahls map out a plan to fill the position.
Schlouch said Augustana has time on its side in the selection process, because Lawrence will remain in her current position until the summer.