Lisa Marsh Ryerson is president of AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity. Ms. Marsh Ryerson served as president of Wells College in Aurora, New York, from 1995 to 2013. She was the college’s 17th president and the first alumna to hold the position. Ms. Marsh Ryerson elevated the college’s standing as a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education and completed the largest and most successful fundraising effort in the college’s history.
A highly effective champion of academic excellence and community engagement, she led initiatives that resulted in substantial improvements to the campus; the revitalization of commercial properties in the village of Aurora; a successful transition to coeducation after more than a century as a women’s college; the launch of an endowed Center for Business and Entrepreneurship; and expanded programs and opportunities for students. Under her leadership, the college increased enrollment and enjoyed consistently high national rankings.
Ms. Marsh Ryerson strengthened the national profile of Wells through her active involvement in numerous state and national organizations. She served as board chair for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities of New York State, the Women’s College Coalition, and the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN). Her executive committee affiliations included: the Council of Independent Colleges; the Middle States Commission on Higher Education; and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, for whom she chaired the accountability committee. She also served on the NCAA Division III President’s Council and as chair of the North Eastern Athletic Conference President’s Council.
Ms. Marsh Ryerson built important local and regional partnerships, including: as advisory board chair for the Finger Lakes Cultural and Natural History Museum; as a trustee of Auburn Community Hospital; on the leadership council of the Cayuga Fund of the Community Foundation of CNY; on the Central New York Advisory Board of HSBC Bank; as a director of the Metropolitan Development Association; on the executive committee of the Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce; as vice-president of the board of Seven Lakes Girl Scout Council; and as a founding board member of Peachtown Elementary School in Aurora.
Her achievements have earned her numerous awards, including recognition by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Girls Inc. of Central New York, the Public Relations Society of America, and the New York State Senate. In 2013, Ms. Marsh Ryerson was named president emerita by the Wells College Board of Trustees.
Ms. Marsh Ryerson holds a bachelor of arts degree from Wells College and a master of science degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland. She received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the State University of New York at Albany for having “met and exceeded each of John Quincy Adams’ standards for leadership.”
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