Ryerson takes the helm at SNHU, succeeding Paul LeBlanc as the unversity’s 6th president

Lisa Ryerson – first-generation college graduate and Manchester resident – is the new president for SNHU. Courtesy Photo

MANCHESTER, NH –  Lisa Marsh Ryerson began her tenure this week as the sixth president of Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Ryerson, who previously served on the SNHU Board of Trustees for six years before taking on the role of university provost in 2022, succeeds Dr. Paul J. LeBlanc who announced his decision to step down late last year following 21 years of transformational leadership.

The SNHU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Ryerson as president for a two-year term effective July 1.

“Lisa Marsh Ryerson is a talented and proven leader who embodies SNHU’s mission to transform lives, and we are thrilled to welcome her to her new role as SNHU president,” said Winnie Lerner, Board Chair, SNHU Board of Trustees. “SNHU is committed to ensuring that people can capitalize on life-changing opportunities they otherwise may not be able to access, and this important legacy will continue under Lisa’s leadership. Through her time on our board and as university provost, Lisa has brought fresh thinking and shown her commitment to SNHU, its people, students, and alumni. We know she will continue to be a wonderful leader for SNHU and champion for higher education.”

Under Ryerson’s leadership as provost, SNHU united campus and online academic programs with student experience efforts, including admission, advising, and student financial services, into one team committed to the student academic experience. As provost, Ryerson was responsible for SNHU’s offerings and the strategic direction of the overall student experience. As the largest nonprofit provider of higher education, SNHU serves more than 200,000 learners across the globe and offers 200+ programs, from certificates to doctoral-level degrees, including business, education, liberal arts, social sciences and STEM.

“As an educator to my core, I am proud to embark on this new and exciting journey as president of SNHU after two remarkable years serving as provost,” Ryerson said. “I believe that access to education and the attainment of a credential are major social determinants of health, and I look forward to continuing the university’s work on behalf of our learners across the globe while also advocating for the more than 40 million Americans with some college and no degree. I’m reminded every day how lucky I am to work alongside the talented teams at SNHU where decisions are made together in service of our students. As a leader in innovation, we will continue to learn about emerging technologies and harness them to ensure a frictionless, seamless, and successful experience for our learners.”

“I believe that access to education and the attainment of a credential are major social determinants of health, and I look forward to continuing the university’s work on behalf of our learners across the globe while also advocating for the more than 40 million Americans with some college and no degree.

Lisa Marsh Ryerson, SNHU President

Prior to joining SNHU, Ryerson served as president of the AARP Foundation, the charitable affiliate of the AARP, for nearly nine years. In this role, she spearheaded innovative partnerships with other organizations to create and advance effective solutions that help vulnerable older adults increase their economic opportunity and social connectedness. During the last three-year plan under her leadership, the foundation generated over $5 billion in income for older adults.

A lifelong learner and educator, Ryerson has taught middle school and held numerous positions in higher education ranging from admissions professional to president. From 1995-2013, Ryerson served as university president and CEO of Wells College in Aurora, New York. Under Ryerson’s leadership, Wells increased enrollment by 45%, launched an endowed Center for Business and Entrepreneurship, and revitalized the economy of the surrounding community. Lisa has also served on boards of higher education and nonprofit organizations, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Congressional Hunger Center. She now serves on the boards of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, the National Women’s History Museum and The Generosity Commission.

Ryerson is a first-generation college graduate and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wells College, and a Master of Science in Education/Literacy from the State University of New York Cortland, where she was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. She was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from SNHU, 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,” and an Honorary Doctor of Social Services from Dickinson College.

Ryerson, a mother and grandmother, lives in Manchester with her husband George. To learn more about Ryerson, read her Q&A on the SNHU website.