Dominican University of California Announces Dr. Nicola Pitchford as the 10th President

Dear Dominican community,

I am thrilled to inform you that the Board of Trustees has voted to appoint Dr. Nicola Pitchford as the 10th President of Dominican University of California.

Dr. Pitchford’s record is outstanding in all arenas – academic, administrative, and creative. Through the evaluation process, it became clear that she enjoys the enormous, and critical, respect of her campus colleagues. Dr. Pitchford arrived at Dominican in fall of 2011. She was Dean of the school of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (now the school of Liberal Arts and Education) until her appointment as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty in 2014.

Prior to Dominican, Dr. Pitchford was a professor of English Literature and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Chief Academic Officer at Fordham University. She received her MA and PhD in English from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BA (cum laude) in English & Creative Writing from Pomona College.

In her current role as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, she has spearheaded a number of efforts on behalf of the University. In 2014, she co-chaired the Dominican Experience Task Force, composed of nearly 30 faculty and staff. Their charge was to align and expand Dominican’s academic and co-curricular strengths within the principles of engaged learning. Today, we are nationally recognized for bringing this signature student experience to scale, and for the strides we have made in supporting student success. Since that time, Dr. Pitchford oversaw the alignment of our entire curriculum, a tremendous lift for the faculty who led innovation within their programs, and the impressive efforts of the staff to implement these changes. Despite the degree of extra effort required, it passed the Faculty Forum with more than 85% majority approval in spring, 2018. Dr. Pitchford has twice led successful negotiations with our adjunct faculty union, and she has instructed Dominican’s Navigating College course for first-year students. In fall 2018, she attended the Rural Writing Institute, and has continued to study the history of Marin County and Coast Miwok land, composing her own place-based narratives. These many accomplishments speak to her inspired vision for equity in education, her organizational acumen, her creative and innovative spirit, and her ability to develop compassionate, personal connections with her peers.

In addition to respecting her personal and professional qualifications, the Board prioritized organizational continuity at this time of global uncertainty. Our strategic plan, Dominican at 130, is strong and has already resulted in improved student performance as well as improved institutional stability. Rather than looking for a new direction with an outside leader, it is clear that Dr. Pitchford has the outstanding qualifications and commitment to mission that positions her—and Dominican—for furthering the path we are on. We are fortunate to have filled this position without added disruptions and uncertainty for the campus.

The Board acknowledges, respects, and is aligned with the campus concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Pitchford’s commitment to these goals is decades-long, not just a response to the times. At Dominican, she has been a champion for our students, who through the Dominican Experience have access to the kinds of opportunities that help them succeed in college, life, and career, regardless of personal background or major. She is an advocate for social justice, both on the campus and in her personal volunteerism. And she has been, and will continue to be, supportive of the Diversity Action Group (DAG) and its strategic plan. In summer 2020, the Board was made aware of the results of the campus climate survey conducted by DAG this past academic year. As Board Chair, I am committed to this work, and have given the charge to each committee of the Board of Trustees to engage in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion that is within their purview. In Dr. Pitchford, we have a strong advocate for this work. At Dominican, we take for granted that women hold positions of authority; this is not the case nationally. As such, she will represent us well, as President Marcy has done.

The process of selecting a new president brings increased engagement between the Board and the campus community. This has been an instructive and inspiring experience for me and the Board, and I have great appreciation for your thoughtful participation in this process. I trust that together, we will collectively work with Dr. Pitchford to build upon Dominican’s strengths as we plan the future.

Early on, the Board of Trustees emphasized a commitment to the integrity and inclusivity of the campus in this process. The Board is deeply grateful for the care, respect, and candor expressed through the work of the Trustee Transition Committee and the Campus Panel. These individuals embodied our founding values of study, reflection, community, and service while they represented every grouping of constituents on campus. Along the way, Trustee Jamie Ferrare, Founding Managing Principal of AGB Search, provided invaluable guidance.

Please join me in thanking them:

Transition Committee

Charlie Francis, Transition Committee Chair
Sr. Margaret Diener, O.P. ’70
Andy Mathieson
Rosemary Morgan
Denise Wang-Kline
Carolyn Klebanoff, Chair of the Board of Trustees (ex officio)

Campus Panel

Charlie Francis, Transition Committee Chair
Andrea Boyle (HNS), Faculty Affairs Committee Chair
Thomas Cavanagh (BSB), Faculty Forum Chair
Nnekay FitzClarke (Library), Diversity Action Group
Amy Gladstone, Staff Council Chair
Amy Henkelman, Director of Athletics
Paul Raccanello, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Hannah Roitman (Student Representative), ASDU Vice President
Lynn Sondag (LAE), Curriculum & Education Policy Committee Chair

There is only one University President at a time, and we are grateful for President Marcy’s leadership through this remarkable school year. Dr. Pitchford will have plenty to occupy her time in her current position. They will begin to work, together with the Board, toward what we expect to be a seamless transition on July 1, 2021.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Klebanoff, Chair
Board of Trustees
Dominican University of California