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Meet the next president of Adler University
Lisa Coleman, Ph.D.

On April 16, Adler University announced the appointment of Dr. Coleman as the institution’s next president, effective Sept. 1. With a distinguished career marked by transformative leadership in global inclusion and innovation, Dr. Coleman brings a wealth of experience and dedication to furthering Adler University’s mission.



A distinguished scholar with a proven track record in academia and organizational stewardship, Dr. Coleman’s career is marked by a relentless commitment to collaboration, multi-sector partnerships, and systemic equity. She has consistently driven initiatives at the intersection of innovation, diversity, and social impact.

The announcement of Dr. Coleman as Adler University’s next president on April 16 signifies a new era of innovation and underscores her familiarity of breaking new ground. Her appointment marks a significant milestone as the institution’s first female and first Black president, a feat that resonates deeply within academics.

Founded in 1952 as the Institute of Adlerian Psychology, Adler gained university status in 2015. Dr. Coleman will serve as the organization’s seventh leader, and the University’s second president. She will begin her term in September 2024, bringing with her a trailblazing spirit and dedication to excellence that has shaped her professional journey and left an indelible mark on the institutions where she has served.

Read full bio.


Read the press release.

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.

(April 16, 2024) – 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.

Watch the announcement video.


Dr. Lisa Coleman, a citizen of the world, is the ideal leader for Adler University during these perilous times. She has the courage, knowledge, lived experiences, collaborative spirit, and unwavering commitment to social justice that will advance Adler University to its rightful place in the vanguard of 21st-century higher education.
Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D., president emerita, Spelman College and Bennett College
Dr. Lisa Coleman is one of the leading administrators in advancing community engagement and innovation in higher education today. Her breadth of knowledge, experience, and notable achievements in creating and implementing interdisciplinary initiatives that engage all groups across globally diverse settings is simply unparalleled.
Evelynn Hammonds, Ph.D., Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and professor of African and African-American Studies, Harvard University
Congratulations to Adler University for making the superb choice of Dr. Lisa Coleman for president. She is an outstanding leader and educator, deeply committed and intellectually astute scholar, compassionate changemaker, and extraordinary collaborator. Partnering with her has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had at NYU. I look forward to continuing to work with her toward a more just world. Congratulations to Lisa on this exciting next step in a pathbreaking career.
Julie Mostov, Ph.D., dean and professor of Liberal Studies, New York University
Working alongside Dr. Lisa Coleman has been truly inspiring and impactful. I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand how she nurtures and develops students into future leaders, meticulously preparing them for professional roles in the dynamic workforce. Her unwavering commitment to empowering the next generation left an indelible mark on all those fortunate enough to be under her guidance.
Sheila Robinson, Ed.D., CEO and publisher, Diversity Woman Media
Dr. Lisa Coleman is a consummate leader who enfolds humanism, social justice, and empathy into her life of advocacy. As a leader at Adler University, she will bring her authentic self to the full community with inspiration and ebullient enthusiasm that will transform!
Eileen M. Sullivan-Marx, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, professor and past dean, NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and past president of the American Academy of Nursing
I’ve had the privilege to work with several inspiring and accomplished higher education leaders throughout the years and Dr. Lisa Coleman immediately struck me as another individual to add my list. Throughout the search process, Dr. Coleman impressed me as one who will easily embody the spirit of Adler University with her student centeredness and a genuine commitment to humanity and social justice. I look forward to working alongside her as we continue to transform lives and shape compassionate leaders who are ready to tackle the world’s challenges.
Bradley O’Hara, Ph.D., executive dean of the Vancouver Campus, Adler University
Dr. Coleman was a trusted advisor to me and many others during our tenure at Tufts University. She was our biggest advocate when working with administration there ensuring the students received all the resources the university had to offer and more. Since then I have worked with Dr. Coleman in various capacities and she never ceases to leave an imprint on every person she meets. Adler University is lucky to have her as President!
Nathalie Lubin, executive director, Head of Regulatory Oversight in the U.S., Morgan Stanley
Tufts University '05
Having Dr. Lisa Coleman as a thought leader signals immense value and excitement as she has consistently approached every speaking engagement on our platform with authority, purpose, and vision. Her natural ability to weave storytelling with statistics gives audiences a unique perspective on societal trends and their impact on human relationships. She continues to prepare leaders for what's next and inspire a generation on what's possible.
Christine Ntim, Founder and CEO, Global Startup Ecosystem
Lisa is one of the sharpest thinkers and leaders in higher education. I admire her ability to understand the complexity of the higher education landscape, and I have immense respect for her commitment to doing education the right way for the right reasons. She is committed to leading institutions that provide an education that unlocks the potential of people to build the lives they want to live in ways that contribute to the world around them. I feel fortunate to call Lisa a friend and to constantly learn from her and be inspired by her.
Adam S. Weinberg, President, Denison University
Since the first day I met Dr. Lisa Coleman in my new role at UNCF 6 years ago, she had me at hello. She is a tireless champion for education and ensuring that all young people have access to a quality education. One of Lisa’s many superpowers is a serving as a “connector”.  As a member of UNCF’s New York Leadership Council, Lisa has opened doors and connected us with corporations and individuals for the betterment of our HBCUs and students. Lisa will be a tremendous leader for Adler University as it seeks to advance its important mission during this critical time in our nation.
Diego Aviles, Vice President, United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Northeast Division
Dr. Coleman's tenure at NYU has been characterized by her remarkable ability to inspire and unite our communities. She is an impactful, transformative, and empathetic leader who has fostered an environment where every individual feels valued and respected. Dr. Coleman's influence extends far beyond our campus, as she has championed national and international collaborations across globally diverse and sometimes divergent communities. We are profoundly grateful to Dr. Coleman for her immense contributions. Her leadership has set a standard for forward-thinking governance, leaving an indelible mark on the trajectory of our institution, and beyond.
Gabrielle (Gabby) Royal, NYU Alumni Association Board, (GSAS '16)
In my local and global engagement with Adler University’s leadership team, I am moved to be part of a community that is fully dedicated and committed to supporting our incredible students and stellar partners. When meeting our president-elect, Dr. Lisa Coleman, I was again moved by her interest in nurturing meaningful professional and personal connections. I immediately felt Dr. Coleman’s devotion to prioritizing excellence and creating a community built on team spirit, respect, warmth, innovation, and creativity. I welcome Dr. Coleman with open arms and with an open heart to this truly vital university. I know she will generously share her wisdom and vast experience with our multidimensional community.
Susan L. MacLaurin, CFA, Board of Trustees and Presidential Search Committee member