Susan Resneck Pierce, President Emerita

Susan Resneck Pierce is President of SRP Consulting, LLC and president emerita of University of Puget Sound, where she served from 1992-2003. Under her leadership, Puget Sound entered the ranks of the national liberal arts colleges. The endowment grew from $68 million to $213 million; the college completed $85 million of new construction and major renovations; SAT scores increased from 1067 to 1253; applications for 650 freshmen places grew to 4400 annually.  

To honor her work at Puget Sound, donors endowed both a chair in humanities and honors, and a lecture series in public affairs and the arts in her name. In addition, thanks also to a major donor, the atrium of Puget Sound’s new humanities building now carries her name.

Pierce is the recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District VIII Distinguished Leadership Award for 2003.

From 1990-92 she served as vice president for Academic Affairs at Lewis & Clark College and from 1984-90 as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tulsa. As assistant director of the Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities, she directed the three federal programs that supported undergraduate education in the humanities. She also has served as chair of the English department at Ithaca College and as visiting associate professor at Princeton University.

Today, as president of SRP Consulting, Pierce advises colleges and universities on such matters as effective board and presidential performance, governance, board development, and strategic planning. She coaches presidents, advises board chairs, and facilitates focused retreats for boards, president’s cabinets, and faculty.

 Pierce writes and speaks extensively about higher education. Jossey-Bass published and Inside Higher Ed sponsored her two recent books: Governance Reconsidered: How Boards, Presidents, Administrators and Faculty Can Help Their Colleges Thrive (2014) and On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders, (2012). She is also the author of The Moral of the Story: Literature, Values and American Higher Education (Columbia University’s Teacher’s College Press, 1982) and numerous essays about American literature, and she is co-editor of a book on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (The Modern Language Association, 1989).

In recent years, Susan Pierce has given presentations at meetings sponsored by the National Association of Colleges and Universities (NAICU), the American Council on Education (ACE), the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), NASPA, the National Association for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the State University of New York system.

Pierce has served on the boards of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the American Conference of Academic Deans, on the advisory committee for the AAC&U project on engineering and the liberal arts, on the Council of Presidents of the Association of Governing Boards and on the Washington Women in Leadership Advisory Committee. She has been active in many civic, cultural and professional organizations, including the boards of the Seattle Symphony, Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, the Tulsa Chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and Tulsa Opera. She co-founded the Access to College program in collaboration with the Tacoma Public Schools. From 1998-2002, she served on the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Task Force on College Drinking and on the executive committee of the Annapolis Group. 

Pierce received a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in 1965, M.A. degree in English from the University of Chicago in 1966, and Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin in 1972. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Susan Pierce now lives in Boca Raton, Florida, where she served as a founding board member of the Festival of the Arts Boca and creator of its Authors and Ideas program. In 2004-05, she served as president of the Boca Raton Community Hospital Foundation and vice president for the hospital. In those roles, she developed the necessary policies and procedures, including new financial controls, for the foundation in anticipation of an anticipated $200 million capital campaign, worked closely with the corporation’s trustee governance committee to define more fully the role and responsibilities of the foundation board of trustees, established an effective marketing/public relations program for the hospital, guided the hospital auxiliary as it moved forward with a strategic planning process and participated in the hospital’s development of its strategic imperatives. During her tenure, the foundation raised an unprecedented amount of money in terms of gifts, planned gifts, and pledges.

Susan Pierce can be reached at susanrpierce@me.com. Her website is www.srpconsulting.com.