Eastern’s Rhona Free Named President of the University of Saint Joseph

(From The Campus Lantern – March 26, 2015)

This Tuesday, the Board of Trustees of the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) announced that Rhona Free, Ph.D, will become the ninth president of the institution on July 1.  Dr. Free spent 25 years as a professor in the Economics department at Eastern Connecticut State University and eight as an administrator (www.foxct.com).  She is currently serving her last few months as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eastern. During her time in these leadership roles, Dr. Free has increased students’ outcomes of success by overseeing the emergence of eight new majors (www.westhartfordnews.com).

Current USJ President Pamela Trotman Reid, Ph.D., announced her plans to retire in October 2014. During her tenure at USJ, Dr. Reid led the university in many beneficial endeavors; including the school’s successful transition from a college to a university and the implementation of the USJ School of Pharmacy in downtown Hartford (www.westhartfordnews.com).

According to West Hartford News, Dr. Free earned a bachelor of arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 1978, and a master’s and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Notre Dame in 1980 and 1983, respectively.  Her scholarship focuses on a multitude of topics, including racial/ethnic earnings differences; collective bargaining; occupational health and safety; and innovative teaching methods.  She has been published in numerous publications and was named National Professor of the Year in 2004 from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education/Carnegie Foundation.

“She [Dr. Free] will garner the respect of the entire USJ family — students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends — at both our West Hartford and Hartford campuses,” outgoing USJ President Pamela Trotman Reid, Ph.D. said, according to West Hartford News.

“I am energized and honored to lead the University of Saint Joseph at such a dynamic time in its history,” said Dr. Free. “President Pamela Trotman Reid has positioned the University to move to new levels of excellence, having established outstanding academic programs and developed a vital presence in downtown Hartford. I look forward to building upon these successes as the institution develops new opportunities for students while upholding its commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition and Mercy values — emphasizing service, ethical development, and social responsibility” (www.westhartfordnews.com).

In Free’s absence, the position of Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs will be vacant at Eastern.  There are rumors that Dr. Pachis of the Economics department may take the position, but nothing is confirmed.


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