Hofstra appoints its first woman president

Dr. Susan Poser, now provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago, has been named Hofstra University’s new president — the first woman to hold the post. She will assume the position Aug. 1 next year, upon the retirement of longtime Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz.

Hofstra University Board of Trustees Chairman Donald Schaeffer made the announcement Wednesday.

“In Dr. Poser, we have found a higher education leader of exceptional experience, a collaborative and visionary person, and a scholar of great depth and intellect,” Schaeffer said. “Dr. Poser’s leadership skills make her well prepared to succeed President Stuart Rabinowitz, whose extraordinary service has led to years of growth and development for Hofstra University.”

Dr. Susan Poser has been named Hofstra University’s ninth — and first woman — president. Photo courtesy Hofstra University

Poser has served five years in her post at the University of Illinois Chicago, a Carnegie Research One university with 16 colleges, including seven health sciences colleges, and more than 35,000 students. Ten college deans and the university librarian report directly to her. Her office oversees enrollment management, diversity, faculty affairs, global engagement, undergraduate affairs and academic programs assessment for all 16 colleges.

“It is a great honor to be named the ninth president of Hofstra University,” Poser said. “Over the past two decades, Hofstra has benefited from outstanding presidential, board, faculty and alumni leadership, creating an excellent platform to meet the challenges of higher education in the post-pandemic world. I am looking forward to joining the Hofstra community and building on this legacy for years to come.”

“I am extraordinarily pleased to welcome Dr. Susan Poser to Hofstra University,” Rabinowitz said. “Her experience and ability will serve Hofstra University exceptionally well. I have had the privilege to work with the Hofstra University community — students, faculty, administration and staff, families, alumni and community — for many years, and know that under her leadership, Hofstra University will flourish for years to come.”

During Poser’s tenure at UIC, the university acquired the John Marshall Law School, creating the first and only public law school in Chicago. Another major focus was the creation of several initiatives to support faculty and enhance diversity, including pipelines for underrepresented faculty; a bridge program to move underrepresented postdoctoral fellows to faculty positions; the Faculty Administrator Leadership Program to mentor faculty; and recently a new Center for Teaching Excellence, with a special focus on supporting inclusive classrooms.

Poser also played a key role in creating two new cultural centers on campus — one focused on Arab-American students and another centered on students with disabilities. An advocate of interdisciplinary work, Poser has created regular forums for faculty from across the disciplines to meet and share research to generate interdisciplinary research and scholarship.

Poser’s work supporting data-driven student success has led to increases in student retention and graduation rates. Under her leadership, UIC developed a multi-faceted Student Success Initiative, which enhances first-year and first-generation programming for undergraduates, at the same that it promotes college completion. As the principal investigator on a $1 million grant from the Andrew J. Mellon Foundation, she created the Engaged Humanities Initiative at UIC, an undergraduate program for which students work with faculty to connect the humanities to their own lived experiences.

“Susan is an outstanding academic leader, who over the last five years has made significant contributions to the success of the University of Illinois Chicago,” said Michael Amiridis, chancellor of UIC. “The Hofstra University community is fortunate to now have one of the best provosts in the country as their ninth president.”

Poser will join Hofstra after two decades of steady growth at the university. Under President Rabinowitz, the university partnered with Northwell Health, New York state’s largest health care system, to establish the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, whose curricular approach to medical education has been noted nationwide. The partnership expanded to include the Hofstra Northwell School of Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies, which after its origins offering graduate programs for nurse practitioners, is recruiting its first undergraduate nursing class, which is to begin in the fall of 2021.

Other new schools were established as well, including the DeMatteis School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Health Professions and Human Services, and the Kalikow School of Government, Public Policy and International Affairs, among several other initiatives. As one of the region’s largest employers, Hofstra University’s annual impact on the area’s economy is estimated to be more than $ 1 billion.

Before UIC, Poser was a law professor at the University of Nebraska College of Law, where she served as the dean from 2010–16, and as the associate to the university’s chancellor from 2007–10. While she was dean, the College of Law moved up 35 points in U.S. News & World Report rankings, and annual giving to the school increased significantly. She also formed the 2044 Alumni Board of Advisors to make recommendations about diversity in admissions and culture at the law school.

Poser grew up in New York City and majored in classics at Swarthmore College, graduating with honors. She earned a law degree and doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley. Before beginning her academic career, Poser clerked for the Honorable Dolores Sloviter, the chief judge of the U.S. Court Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia, and served as the Zicklin Fellow in Ethics at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Poser’s scholarly work is primarily in the areas of legal ethics and tort law, and she has published widely, including in the Michigan Law Review and Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics.

Poser is married to Dr. Stephen DiMagno, an organic and medicinal chemist. They have two daughters in their 20s. Poser is also an avid swimmer and plays classical piano.

“It will be a privilege to work with the Hofstra faculty, who provide an outstanding liberal arts education and a wide array of graduate and professional degrees that lead to satisfying and successful careers for Hofstra graduates,” Poser said. “I’m looking forward to working on the Hofstra campus, with its state-of-the-art facilities and arboretum, and as a native New Yorker, this will be a very happy homecoming.”

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