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University News | 04.16.24

Lisa Coleman, Ph.D., named president of Adler University

She will take the helm of the nonprofit institution with three campuses, in the U.S., Canada, and Online, on Sept. 1.

Adler University announced today the appointment of Lisa Coleman, Ph.D., as the University’s next president. Dr. Coleman, current senior vice president for global inclusion and strategic innovation at New York University (NYU), will begin her appointment on Sept. 1.

A transformative administrator with proven success in building global partnerships and equity, inclusion, and innovation initiatives, Dr. Coleman brings a wealth of experience and dedication to furthering Adler University’s mission. She will build upon the institution’s legacy of excellence and guide its continued growth, amplifying Adler’s national and international impact at the intersections of global health equity and justice. With a focus on people, partnerships, and purpose, Dr. Coleman strives to drive innovations in health care, cultivate global leaders committed to access and equitable practices, and reimagine wellness frameworks through partnerships and whole-person approaches.

“Following a national search and the Presidential Search Committee’s unanimous recommendation, the Board of Trustees voted to appoint Dr. Coleman as the University’s next president,” said Noland Joiner, chair of the Adler University Board of Trustees. “Her vision, passion, and commitment to the values that define our institution were evident throughout the interview process, and her dedication to advancing health equity aligns with the principles that have guided Adler since its inception. I have full confidence that Dr. Coleman’s experience and leadership will guide our institution to even greater heights of impact and excellence. We look forward to forging a path forward that not only honors our legacy but propels us into the future.”

Founded as the Institute of Adlerian Psychology in 1952, Adler gained university status in 2015 and has been a beacon of transformative education across its Chicago, Vancouver, and online campuses. Dr. Coleman will serve as the institution’s seventh leader but only the second president since being recognized as a university.

The appointment of Dr. Coleman comes at a pivotal time as the University continues to expand its reach and influence in the realm of graduate education. With a focus on producing graduates prepared to address the world’s complex challenges, Adler University remains steadfast in its commitment to collaborative innovations in wellness and care and to educating professionals capable of effecting transformational positive change across global systems and communities.

Prior to Adler and NYU, Dr. Coleman served as Harvard University’s first special assistant to the president and first chief diversity officer. In her roles at NYU and Harvard, she was responsible for advancing strategic global inclusion, equity, and innovation initiatives. She and her team spearheaded the development of programs aimed at the intersection of technology and disability, along with cultural inclusion and innovation. Before her time at Harvard, Dr. Coleman directed the Africana program at Tufts University and was later appointed the senior inclusion officer heading the Office of Institutional Diversity.

“Having spent my career addressing how to transform inequitable systems, it is an honor to align my life’s work with Adler University. Together, we will draw inspiration from Alfred Adler, to not only recognize the profound impact of social determinants on health outcomes but to also address the root causes of health disparities and champion health equity and justice,” said President-elect Coleman. “We will reimagine frameworks of care by employing innovative approaches, developing global partnerships, and excelling in research and action. We will work to alleviate disparities and lead the charge in transforming global health equity leadership and advancing health justice by fostering communities where wellness flourishes and all individuals can realize their full potential.”

Among her many academic and professional accomplishments, Dr. Coleman serves on several national and international boards, including the United Negro College Fund – New York Leadership Committee, American Repertory Theater Advisory Board, Sarah Lawrence College, Denison University, ANA Educational Foundation, Education New Zealand (ENZ), and Parity.Org.

Dr. Coleman earned her doctorate in Social and Cultural Analysis, American Studies from NYU, and two master’s degrees from the Ohio State University. Her specific academic foci are in African and African American Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; communication, leadership, and intercultural studies and theory. She received her B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Denison University with a focus on Women’s Studies and Computer Science.

“Dr. Coleman’s higher education leadership experience and ability to foster a collaborative and inclusive community set her apart during the search process,” said Nicola Halsall Idehen, vice chair of the Adler University Board of Trustees and chair of the Presidential Search Committee. “Her proven track record in research collaboration and fundraising for institutional projects, as well as her commitment to social justice and advancing the University’s mission, further showcase why she was chosen as the University’s next leader.”

An 11-month national search preceded the selection of Dr. Coleman, spearheaded by Russell Reynolds Associates, an external search partner, and the Presidential Search Committee, comprised of members of the Adler University community. The Committee was tasked with identifying a leader who embodies the University’s values, embraces its mission, and is exceptionally qualified to lead the institution into the future.

Dr. Coleman’s appointment follows current president Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., who has dedicated 20 years of service to the institution. As the sixth president of the Adler School of Professional Psychology, Dr. Crossman led the institution’s transition to a university, served as its inaugural president, and has shepherded its growth from 200 graduate students annually to nearly 2,000.

“As I prepare to step into the role of president in September, I am eager to embark on a journey of discovery and collaboration with Adler University’s vibrant and globally diverse community. I am committed to actively listening to the insights of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community partners and fostering a culture of collaboration and engagement,” said Dr. Coleman. “I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this remarkable globally engaged community and excited to witness the collective growth that lies ahead as we reimagine possibilities and expand our reach.”

Dr. Coleman will be based in Chicago and will divide time between both ground campuses. To learn more about Dr. Coleman, visit our president-elect page.

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