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Recognizing Our Female Leaders and Their Contributions to Higher Education

In the United States, Women’s History Month first got its start in tandem with International Women’s Day in 1911. Many decades later, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in 1987, and every year since then, March has been dedicated to highlighting and telling the stories of extraordinary American women.

Each year, topics such as the current state of the feminist movement, women’s achievements in everything from the arts to politics to science, and breaking through the glass ceiling are discussed and presented upon to highlight the importance of women’s roles in society as well as where there is room for improvement in terms of gender equality.

Did you know that today, three of the most prominent members of SUNY’s senior leadership team are females? They are all doing amazing work to drive higher education in New York for all students. In honor of National Women’s History Month, we would like to highlight some of our many female leaders at SUNY, from System Administration to our various campuses, and their many contributions to the SUNY family and beyond.

Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson

SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson headshot

Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson is the 13th chancellor of SUNY and started her tenure in September of 2017. At her inaugural State of the University System Address this past January, Chancellor Johnson outlined her vision for SUNY, which includes the following four themes: Innovation Entrepreneurship; Individualized Education; Energy and Sustainability; and Partnerships. In her remarks, she noted that she wants SUNY to be a leader within these four themes within New York State, as well as nationally and internationally, and Chancellor Johnson is no stranger to being a leader in these areas herself.

Prior to becoming SUNY’s 13th chancellor, Chancellor Johnson was a co-founder and CEO of Cube Hydro Partners, LLC, a clean-energy infrastructure company whose focus is on building and operating hydropower plants in North America. In this role, Chancellor Johnson grew the company from one plant to 19 plants, which in total generated enough power to serve 150,000 with clean energy. She also co-founded ColorLink, Inc., later acquired by RealD, which is responsible for 3D effects in movies such as Avatar, Gravity, and hundreds of other films.

Before creating her own companies, she served as Under Secretary of Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy under the Obama administration and was responsible for unifying and managing a $10.5 billion energy and environment portfolio.

Chancellor Johnson also has a vast history of leadership roles within higher education. Most recently, she served as both provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University where she led a university-wide effort called the Mosaic Initiative, which led to the recruitment of outstanding and underrepresented faculty.

Before her tenure at Johns Hopkins, Chancellor Johnson was Dean of the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University from 1999-2007. At Duke, she led a strategic planning process as part of Duke’s “Building on Excellence” initiative, which led to major growth in graduate student enrollment and research programs and expenditures. Chancellor Johnson also worked closely with faculty and department chairs to increase the percentage of female faculty from 6 to 19 percent.

Chancellor Johnson also knows a thing or two about innovation, as she holds 118 U.S. and international patents and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors.

She received her B.S. with distinction, M.S. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University, and did a NATO-based post-doctoral fellowship at Trinity College in Dublin.

With a resume like this, we couldn’t be more excited about where Chancellor Johnson’s visions and themes for SUNY will take us moving forward.

Dr. Grace Wang

Grace Wang headshot

Dr. Grace Wang has passions in science, research, and student success. She puts those to good use at SUNY. Dr. Wang was named Interim Provost for SUNY by the Board of Trustees in September 2017. Her duties include fostering academic excellence across the System and ensuring that SUNY education is accessible and of the highest quality for all. In addition to her Interim Provost role, she also serves as the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development where she plays a lead role in designing, directing, and expanding the footprint of SUNY’s research, graduate education, industry relations, and economic development activities. In both capacities, she strives to enable pathways for student success and success in research, providing a vision and strategic directions for both.

Before her arrival at SUNY, she served as acting Assistant Director for Engineering at the National Science Foundation where she led the Engineering Directorate, managing a funding portfolio of over $900 million dedicated to investments in frontier engineering research, supporting engineering education, and fostering innovation, and technology commercialization. She Joined NSF in June 2009 as a Program Director for the SBIR/STTR Program, focusing on investing in small businesses in the areas of nanotechnology, advanced materials, and manufacturing.

One fun Fact about Dr. Wang is that she holds seven U.S. patents. She earned her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Northwestern University.

Eileen G. McLoughlin

Eileen McLoughlin headshot

As the Chief Financial Officer for the largest comprehensive system of public higher education in the nation, Eileen McLoughlin is responsible for helping deliver optimal higher education services to New York. She took office as the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Chief Financial Officer for SUNY in November 2014, when she was charged with overseeing all aspects of SUNY’s financial resources and a $12 billion all-funds budget. In addition to managing the funds, she is responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing the financial planning for SUNY System and each of its 64 campuses. Eileen works closely with the VP for Finance and Administration at each of the colleges to establish financial plans, policies, and procedures to ensure financial stability at each campus.

With more than 30 years experience in finance, and more than 15 years of experience in higher education, Eileen exemplifies all the qualities of a true leader.

She previously served as the Assistant Vice President of Finance and Budgeting at RPI overseeing a  $400 million budget. Eileen started out at UAlbany earning her Bachelor’s degree and going on to earn her MBA from RPI.

SUNY Presidents

Not only is there female leadership at the top of SUNY System Administration, but many campuses have females serving as president across the system too. These women do a great job leading our SUNY colleges and universities, helping provide access to education, economic development, and community engagement to all people:

  • Adirondack Community College; Dr. Kristine D. Duffy
  • College at Brockport; Dr. Heidi R. Macpherson
  • Buffalo State; Dr. Katherine S. Conway-Turner
  • Cobleskill; Dr. Marion Terenzio
  • Cornell, NYS College of Agriculture & Life Sciences; Dr. Kathryn J. Boor (Dean)
  • Corning Community College; Dr. Katherine P. Douglas
  • Dutchess Community College; Dr. Pamela Edington
  • Empire State College
  • FIT; Dr. Joyce F. Brown
  • Fredonia; Dr. Virginia Horvath
  • Geneseo; Denise A. Battles
  • Herkimer County Community College; Cathleen McColgin
  • Jefferson Community College; Dr. Ty A. Stone
  • Monroe Community College; Dr. Anne M. Kress
  • Oneonta; Dr. Nancy Kleniewski
  • Onondaga Community College; Dr. Casey Crabill
  • Orange County Community College; Dr. Kristine M. Young
  • Oswego; Deborah Flemma Stanley
  • Potsdam; Dr. Kristin Esterberg
  • Tompkins Cortland Community College; Dr. Orinthia T. Montague
  • Upstate Medical University; Dr. Danielle Laraque-Arena
  • Westchester Community College; Belinda S. Miles

This year, the National Women’s History Project’s theme for National Women’s History Month is honoring women who have shaped America’s history and its future through their efforts to end discrimination against women and girls. For more information about this year’s theme, please visit the National Women’s History Project’s website.

    Written by Julie Maio

    Julie is a Communications Assistant at SUNY System Administration.




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