For the first time in its history D'Youville College in Buffalo has selected a lay member as its next leader. Dr. Lorrie Clemo has been named to serve as the 15th president of the Catholic college on the city's west side.
Clemo comes from SUNY Oswego were she had been serving as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. She was introduced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon on the D’Youville campus.
Clemo explained how she will always remember the joy of learning the Board of Trustees selected her to serve as the next president.
“I know that I will remember that moment forever,” Clemo stated. “I am absolutely exuberant to stand before you here today. There is nothing but happiness in my heart.”
Clemo noted there are challenges in higher education and D’Youville must be ready for the rapid pace of those changes.
“Making sure the campus and college and all its members of the college community are prepared to keep pace with that change,” stated Clemo.
But the new leader said she believes one of the College’s greatest assets is its long-time history and culture of ‘trending forward’ with higher education changes. “However, the pace is greater than it has been in the past,” remarked Clemo.
Clemo told the campus community must be ready to look for opportunities and collaborations especially with anticipated changes in the political and economic landscape.
“We will have to be ready for that and make sure the college is prepared to, again, look for opportunities we can take advantage of,” noted Clemo.
Clemo said when she begins her work at D'Youville in January she will host 'creativity sessions' with faculty, staff, students and alumni to build a ‘dynamic learning environment’.
Clemo said was drawn to the college because of its similarity with her own Catholic roots in education.
A search committee conducted a nation-wide search. They reviewed more than 60 applications, then interviewed nine candidates. Clemo was among four finalists who attended on-campus visits in September and October.
Clemo replaces Sister Denise Roche, who retired in June after serving for 37-years. Roche appeared and spoke at the introduction to welcome the new leader.
“It’s a marvelous day. A day in which transition is celebrated,” Roche remarked.
The College was founded in 1908 by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart and named after their patron Saint, Marguerite d’Youviile. It was the first college the area for women to receive their bachelor degrees.
“I hand over that legacy, I’m sure with the support and background of the Grey Nuns to you, and you can carry it forward because it is definitely the legacy of D’Youville College, the service and the kindness and the compassion that is here,” described Roche. “D’Youville College is not buildings and it’s not location. D’Youville is people.”
One of the challenges ahead is working to restructure the school's education program, which was recently suspended for a makeover. That has forced some of the current students to seek other programs or colleges. But Clemo tells WBFO she is confident the program will be reworked for a future return.
"So that we can really take our time and take a look at what will be the most innovative program to put out there and opportunities," Clemo explained. "So we can take a look at not just what is happening in New York State, but nationally. How we can attract students to this? D'Youville College has a long history of attracting international student to our education program as well. That is something we are clearly going to take a look at," Clemo responded.
WBFO News asked Clemo about leaving the SUNY system to work at a private institution. She said she is looking forward to the opportunity to move into an independent college.
"One of the great strengths I bring from being in a large state system is the ability to collaborate and work with other universities and other colleges," replied Clemo.
Clemo tells us she will be reviewing enrollment. Clemo said D'Youville is 'ripe' to become a 'world class' institution of higher education.