Lisa Marsh Ryerson
An experienced, innovative leader known for her advocacy of gender equity, the liberal arts, and commitment to providing increased access to higher education, Lisa Marsh Ryerson has served as president of Wells College since 1995. She is the 17th and first alumna president of Wells College. Serving in her seventeenth year, President Ryerson is a senior college president in the region.
Nationally recognized for her progressive views on higher education and community partnerships, President Ryerson speaks and writes about the benefits of inclusive coeducation, gender equality in education and society, women in leadership, and business-education partnerships among many other topics.
President Ryerson has elevated the College’s national standing as a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education at an affordable price. She led the Board of Trustees through a planning and decision-making process that included opening the College’s doors to matriculated male students for the first time in the College’s history beginning in fall 2005. She led the College’s successful transition to coeducation and subsequent 45% increase in enrollment. President Ryerson is a leader in developing strategic partnerships in support of higher education.
In February 2010 President Ryerson announced the addition of an innovative new business center to its liberal arts offerings. This program puts Wells at the forefront of national efforts to revitalize undergraduate business programs by connecting them more fully to the liberal arts. The center will focus on teaching business in a manner that stresses interdisciplinary and experiential learning, in keeping with Wells’ core curriculum; and will offer signature programs in areas of business that best leverage Wells’ distinctive values and strengths, including arts administration; non-profit business; “green” business; entrepreneurship; and hospitality.
President Ryerson played a key leadership and collaborative role in economically revitalizing the village of Aurora through the restoration and refurbishment of the College’s extensive holdings in the village’s commercial district. The success of this collaborative effort may be seen at the historic Aurora Inn and several other renovated businesses in the village. Additionally she has overseen the refurbishment of many campus buildings including the construction of Stratton Hall, the College’s state-of-the-art science facility. Under her leadership, Wells completed the largest and most successful fundraising effort in the College’s history – a comprehensive campaign that surpassed its ambitious $50 million goal.
An active leader in many national, state, and local organizations, President Ryerson serves as: a commissioner and executive committee member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III President's Council, chair of the President's Council North Eastern Athletic Conference, a member of the Central New York Advisory Board of HSBC Bank, a trustee of Auburn Memorial Hospital, member of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art Community Advisory Committee at Cornell, co-chair of the Southern Cayuga Southern Schools and Wells College Partnership, and member of the Cayuga Community Fund. Throughout her presidency she was honored to serve a number of important higher education organizations in a leadership capacity including past chair of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) of New York State, past chair of the Executive Board of the Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) in Washington, D.C., past chair of the Women’s College Coalition in Washington, D.C, vice chair of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), and the American Council on Education’s Commission on Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness, and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU).
President Ryerson has been honored with a variety of awards including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II Chief Executive Leadership Award; a New York State Senate Woman of Distinction Award; the Girls Inc. of CNY Spirit of American Women National Role Model for Girls Award; the Central New York Chapter of The Public Relations Society of America Communications Advocate Award; a Post-Standard Achievement Award; and a Seven Lakes Girl Scout Council Woman of Distinction Award.
A native of Jamestown, New York, she earned her bachelor’s degree from Wells and her master of science in education degree from the State University of New York at Cortland. She was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York. She resides in Aurora with her husband George E. Farenthold. They have four daughters.