Dr. Robin Holmes-Sullivan Announced As First Woman, Black President At Oregon’s Lewis & Clark College

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Dr. Robin Holmes-Sullivan’s professional journey has been marked down in history as she now steps into a role she never expected.

According to the college, after a six-month national search, Holmes-Sullivan will be the first woman and the first person of color to serve as Lewis & Clark’s 26th president in the college’s 155-year history.

Holmes-Sullivan was a top choice of all three deans and President Wim Wiewel, out of more than 100 applicants. According to the college, her accomplishment is a product of the continuous support she receives from the faculties of all three schools.

“I am humbled and thrilled at the opportunity to serve as Lewis & Clark’s next leader,” Holmes-Sullivan said in a press release statement. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for our students, staff, and faculty.”

Nina Johnson / Lewis & Clark

Holmes-Sullivan currently serves as Lewis & Clark’s vice president for student life and dean of students, and is expected to assume the presidency in July 2022, following the retirement of President Wiewel.

A respected higher education leader, Holmes-Sullivan brings three decades of professional experience at universities and colleges in Oregon and California. She started out at the University of Oregon as a clinical coordinator in the university’s counseling center and ascended into the vice president of student life role.

The majority of her career in higher education has been dedicated to students, and before that she focused extensively in psychology. As per OPB, Holmes-Sullivan didn’t expect to be working in the higher education field, but she knew that she could utilize her clinical psychology and student affairs background to lend support to students. In her history-making role, Holmes-Sullivan plans to make ambitious efforts toward students’ mental health.

“I think I bring that understanding and that ability to work through some of those issues and inspire others to help students work through those important issues,” she told the broadcasting company.

The uncertainty of the pandemic has increased among students. Lewis & Clark is hopeful in its decision to select Holmes-Sullivan, especially because she’s already established a climate of trust and respect across campus.

“In these tumultuous times, especially in regard to student issues, I can’t think of a more level-headed and experienced leader than Robin,” current president Wim Wiewel said in a statement.

Her familiarity with the campus culture gives her an advantage at making her transition as seamless as possible.

“I’m already here on campus. I’m already working with colleagues and the current president, and we’ve been working, I think very successfully, and making good progress on our strategic plan for several years now,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “One of the main things I want to do is keep that positive trajectory going in terms of our enrollment goals, in terms of the types of students we’re able to attract and support in their academic endeavors.”

This win is among her many firsts for Holmes-Sullivan, yet she intends to set a positive example for her students.

“It’s obviously something that is going to be, and is, very meaningful to me and to our school and also to the young people who will be looking at me as someone who they can feel inspired by,” Holmes-Sullivan said. “They can realize that they can dream big.”

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