The Suffolk University Presidential Search Committee has selected two finalists for the University presidency: Margaret McKenna, who transformed Lesley University as its president and who now teaches at Brandeis University, and Louis E. Caldera, a past president of the University of New Mexico whose career in government and higher education has reached the highest levels.
The candidates will visit campus this week to share their vision for Suffolk’s future with University stakeholders.
McKenna is an educator and lawyer who has spent her career advocating for social justice. Her experience in higher education includes serving as president of Lesley University for 22 years, as vice president of Radcliffe College, and as a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University. During her tenure at Lesley, the college grew from 2,000 to more than 10,000 students, from a college to a university, and from a small regional college to a nationally recognized leader in teacher education.
McKenna began her career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice. She has served as deputy counsel in the White House and as undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Education, and she led the education transition team for President Clinton.
McKenna is an author, speaker, and expert on issues of educational access, women’s economic empowerment, hunger, and social change leadership. While leading the Walmart Foundation from 2007 to 2011, she created a strategy that emphasized hunger relief, education, and the economic empowerment of women. She has served on five corporate boards and dozens of non-profit boards and is the recipient of 10 honorary degrees and is now a visiting professor and acting director of the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University. She serves as the vice chair of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Board and sits on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
McKenna holds a JD from Southern Methodist University and a BA from Emmanuel College.
Caldera, an attorney and president of Caldera Associates, began his career as a commissioned officer in the US Army. He was appointed secretary of the Army in 1998 with responsibility for a budget of $70 billion and a workforce of 1.3 million career soldiers and civilians.
In 2001, Caldera became vice chancellor for university advancement and president of the California State University Foundation. He then served as president of the University of New Mexico, the state’s flagship research university, which serves more than 33,000 students on a $1.5B annual budget. He also taught at the University of New Mexico Law School. He was a member of the Obama transition team and then served as assistant to the president and director of the White House Military Office.
Earlier in his career, he was an attorney in private practice and deputy counsel for Los Angeles County. He served three terms in the California State Legislature. In 1997, President Clinton appointed him managing director and chief operating officer of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal grant-making agency with a budget in excess of $600 million.
Following work as a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress and vice president of programs at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, he established his own consulting firm in 2010. Caldera currently serves on the boards of the A.H. Belo Corporation and Career Education Corporation. He has served on the Board of Claremont McKenna College. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Caldera holds a BS from the U.S. Military Academy, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.