The community had not received an update on the Presidential search since December. On March 3, Lori Hindle, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Chair of the search Committee, informed the community that current Provost Eric Turner was the final candidate for the position.
Over the next few weeks, Turner will hold meetings with different constituents within the community to answer their questions directly. Following these meetings, the Board of Trustees will use the feedback to make their final decision.
Turner began his work at Lasell as a member of the Board of Overseers. Over the course of the years, Turner served four terms as a member of the Board of Trustees, acting as Chair and Treasurer, and serving on Lasell Village’s Board of Trustees. Those 25 years of volunteer experience resulted in Turner officially joining Lasell as an employee in 2017 as the Vice President of Graduate and Professional Studies and member of the Senior Management Team.
Hindle held multiple listening sessions throughout the fall semester to gather information on what the community was looking for in their next President. In the announcement of Turner as the final candidate, Hindle describes these qualities as “honesty, passion, a commitment to equity, and a responsibility to maintain the connection with who we are as an institution, even as we continue to evolve.”
Dean of Curricular Integration and the faculty representative on the Presidential Search Committee, Dennis Frey, echoed Hindle when describing what the community wanted and what was listed in the job profile, describing the candidate should be committed to connected learning and community but also prioritizing innovation.
“Lasell has always innovated and changed and been entrepreneurial,” Frey said. “The next President should continue that trend… [Turner] is a good match to that description.”
Frey also emphasized the long-standing relationship Turner has with the institution. Not only has Turner been a part of many roles at Lasell, but he acted as the Chair of the Search Committee that yielded President Michael Alexander in 2007. “[Turner] has an incredible relationship with Lasell, going back 30 years… He’s been with the institution, with the community for a very, very long time which is really good,” Frey said. “In other words, he knows the place, he knows the board, and he knows so much about how the place operates and its connected learning heart, you know, its mission.”
In addition to applying directly for the role, Turner received multiple nominations from members of the community. Turner said those nominations were “humbling” and says his long history with Lasell indicates “a certain level of commitment to the institution.”
“I've been able to utilize my background and experience to the benefit of the institution. And frankly, I hope to continue to do that, you know, if and when I am named as the President of the institution,” Turner said. “I was very much appreciative of what folks have done, to express confidence in me to be able to do this.”
Student Government Association President Michael Woo, the undergraduate student representative on the search committee agrees with Frey, saying, “Turner has so much experience with Lasell…He understands our community well and leverages that knowledge as a well-respected campus leader.”
In addition to Woo, other students approve of Turner’s possible promotion and believe he is cut out for the role. Sophomore Jeffrey Serrano Sanchez had Turner and Frey as professors in SOC104: Equity and Intersectionality.
Serrano Sanchez had a relationship with Turner prior to taking his class and as a first-generation student, enjoyed being able to talk with someone of authority. “[Turner]’s a great person to speak to about professional development…He’s a great resource to have and just having a person that is also up in authority is a great connection to have,” Serrano Sanchez said.
Serrano Sanchez not only approves of Turner in the President role, but sees it as an important step forward for people of color on campus, especially male students. “He brings diversity. He would be considered the first black President in I don’t know how many years of Lasell, which is just an outstanding accomplishment,” Serrano Sanchez said. “He’s a very strong advocate for [social justice] and I think him being there and seeing his efforts he puts in…means a lot to students.”
Frey agrees, saying Turner pays attention to the things that matter to the community. “He is a great administrator in that he keeps his eyes on the most important aspects… [Turner has] a wealth of experience dedicated to [Lasell], a deep love and concern for [Lasell] that he brings to campus every day,” Frey said.
The goal for Turner as President is to see Lasell and the community continue to “evolve for the better”, by introducing new programs for both current undergraduate and graduate students, but the students of the future.
“That means continuing to change and introduce new programs for our students, programs that are in line with what's going on out there, in industry, and in the so-called real world,” Turner said. “You know, we have a very strong connected learning philosophy, a very strong ethic and, and set of operations around career preparation, and career readiness. And clearly, those things need to continue. Because we can see that the need for prepared students isn't going to subside in the near future.”
The plan for preparing students extends to early college education, also assisting with dual enrollment for high school students and youth innovation programs for middle school students.
Turner’s goal remains simple and aligns with the hallmark of President Alexander’s mission, according to Turner: “our culture of collaboration and respect.”
“I like for us to continue our culture of being innovative and trying new things, because I don’t think any institution, you know, survives or, or thrives without continuing to reinvent itself continuing to try new things, you know, continuing to try new things and to fail, because you learn from those things,” Turner said. “And if we can continue that strong foundation of how we treat each other, how we generate ideas, how we evolve, you know, we'll be here for a long time to come for others to then continue to build on that.”