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Presidential finalists named

mbruun | Tue Apr 9, 2024

(Note - This press release has been modified to reflect the departure of a fourth finalist for the presidency).

Three finalists have been named for Fitchburg State University’s next president. The candidates, selected in a nationwide search, will visit the university campus in the coming weeks to meet with campus constituencies including open forums with the general public.

The university’s Board of Trustees will vote on the next presidential appointment and submit the name to the state Department of Higher Education for final approval.

The next president will succeed Dr. Richard S. Lapidus, Fitchburg State’s 11th president, who has led the institution since 2015. 

The finalists will each spend two days on campus meeting with students, faculty, staff and alumni, as well as open sessions for external constituents. The finalists, in order of their scheduled campus visits, are:

  • Dr. Karim Ismaili, Executive Vice President and Provost at Bridgewater State University. The public forum for Dr. Ismaili will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 11 in Ellis White Lecture Hall in Hammond Hall.
  • Dr. Mark Overmyer-Velázquez, Dean and Chief Administrative Officer at the University of Connecticut-Hartford. The public forum for Dr. Overmyer-Velázquez will be at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, April 17 in Ellis White Lecture Hall in Hammond Hall.
  • Dr. Donna Souder Hodge, Vice President of Operations & Advancement at Colorado State University, Pueblo. The public forum for Dr. Souder Hodge will be at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday, April 23 in Ellis White Lecture Hall in Hammond Hall.

The national search was led by a committee appointed by the Board of Trustees earlier this year, chaired by Trustee Eric A. Gregoire, himself a 2011 graduate of the university. The search committee included representation from the campus and community and worked with executive search firm WittKieffer to identify candidates for the post.

“The opportunity to lead Fitchburg State generated substantial interest and today I'm proud to report the recommended finalists each embody the characteristics required of our next president,” Gregoire said. “These accomplished academic leaders come from diverse backgrounds and impressive experiences that distinguish themselves and with an understanding of our special role as a regional comprehensive university prepared to lead Fitchburg State to a dynamic and bright future. There are substantial opportunities and significant challenges the next president will contend with but they will be forging ahead with a campus and broader community energized by the opportunity to work together ensuring Fitchburg State will flourish for the benefit of our students present and future.”

Additional information on the search may be found at