The Wells College Board of Trustees has named Thomas E. J. de Witt, Ph.D., interim President through the 2014-15 academic year. Wells College President Lisa Marsh Ryerson announced her retirement in the fall and will conclude her nearly 20-year presidency this summer.
“We’re delighted to welcome Dr. de Witt to the College,” said Stanley J. Kott, chair of the Wells College Board of Trustees. “His wealth of experience and the quality of his leadership will be valuable assets as he leads Wells through this transition. The Board and I look forward to working with him and the campus community as we seek innovative and exciting solutions to the College’s challenges.”
Dr. de Witt will begin his service on August 5, 2013, bringing over 40 years of higher education leadership to the position. “It is an honor to be selected as the interim President of Wells College. I am excited to join the College, and I will bring a strong focus to both finances and program in my work as I engage the entire campus community. The College’s rich history and traditions will provide an important foundation upon which we will build Wells’ future,” he said.
Dr. de Witt began his career in higher education in 1971 teaching history at institutions in the United States and Canada, including Queen’s University and Wellesley College (MA), before serving as director of finance for Regis College (MA) and then executive vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer at Endicott College (MA). Dr. deWitt went on to hold the presidency at Lasell College in Newton, MA, from 1988 to 2007, where he was named President Emeritus. He also previously served as a consultant providing budget analysis and policy options for the city of Boston.
Dr. de Witt’s key achievements include repositioning a college from an open-admission two-year women’s college into a competitive coeducational baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution with an innovative curriculum; leading efforts to substantially increase enrollment; generating successful growth in fundraising programs, including endowment growth; eliminating budget deficits and producing surpluses; and conceptualizing, developing and managing an internationally acclaimed retirement community with an integrated academic focus.
Dr. de Witt earned his undergraduate B.A. from the University of Manitoba, an M.A. from the University of Virginia, a Ph. D. in history from the University of Virginia, and an M.B.A. in public management from Boston University’s Public Management Program. He has published and presented on German history in various academic arenas, has held Woodrow Wilson and Virginia-Wilson Doctoral Fellowships, and has been elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Beta Gamma Sigma (business management honors society), and Phi Beta Kappa Fellows.
He is a member of the Board of Overseers of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, honorary co-chair of Lasell College’s Heritage Society, and a founding director and past secretary of the New England Education Insurance Association. He has served as member of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, consultant to the American Optometric Association Council on Education, chairman of the Business Affairs Committee of the Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities of Massachusetts, trustee of Beaver Country Day School in Chestnut Hill, MA, and is active in church governance. Dr. de Witt is married to Margaret E. Ward, Ph.D., professor emerita of German at Wellesley College.
Dr. de Witt comes to Wells College through the Registry for College and University Presidents. Founded in 1992, the Registry is the country's premier interim leadership placement firm in higher education, placing interims at the presidential and senior administrators' level in all of the major areas of administration.
Outgoing President Lisa Marsh Ryerson, also a 1981 graduate of Wells, will remain with the College for a sabbatical year in which she will work with the Board of Trustees on key institutional initiatives.