By: Diane Feen
BOCA RATON — If there’s one thing about Boca Raton it’s that you never know who is walking beside you. There are doctors, lawyers, writers, retirees, real estate agents (and everything in between).
If you haven’t met Dr. Susan Resneck Pierce, then you might not know that she is President Emerita of the University of Puget Sound, where she served as president from 1992 to 2003.
What you also may not know about Dr. Pierce is that she elevated Puget Sound into the ranks of the National Liberal Arts Colleges and raised the endowment from $68 million to $213 million.
There are a lot of things that Dr. Pierce did in her college president days (including publishing books and papers), and to honor her wonderful accomplishments, a chair in humanities and a lecture series in public affairs were named after her. And if that’s not a big enough feather in her cap, the atrium of Puget Sound’s new Humanities Building is now named after her as well.
You could say that this woman – who walks beside you in Publix or at the post office – is very accomplished, prolific and continues to contribute to the health and welfare of colleges and society at large. To top that off, she recently published a book called On Being Presidential; A Guide for College and University Leaders. The book has become a “must read” for trustees, presidents, aspiring presidents, senior administrators, faculty members and anyone interested in leadership.
That is why she was the moderator at the Authors & Ideas panel featuring Florida Atlantic University President MJ Saunders and Lynn University President Kevin Ross at the recent Festival of the Arts BOCA. The topic was “The Role of the College President in Preparing Citizens of the World.”
Dr. Pierce is also a sought after speaker on issues facing higher education. She addresses organizations such as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the Council of Independent Colleges, the American Council on Education and the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals.
Because of her extensive experience in the world of higher education Dr. Pierce has a consulting firm called SRP Consulting. She works with university trustees, presidents and higher education organizations.
Aside from her educational and management acumen, there is a lighter side to this relatively new Boca Raton resident. She has two grandsons (7 and 9-years-old) and a daughter and son-in-law (Sasha and Steven Siegel) in the area.
Born in the small town of Jamesville, Wisc., Dr. Pierce (who was simply Susan in those days) stood out among her peers. She was editor of the high school newspaper and was a reporter for the Janesville Daily Gazette.
Her parents Elliott and Dory Resneck always encouraged her to succeed, and her late husband Kenneth continued the tradition of supporting Dr. Pierce’s ascent to the top of the educational pyramid.
There is a lot more to this Boca Raton resident than meets the eye (or the spread sheet). At the National Endowment for the Humanities she directed three programs that supported undergraduate education in the humanities, participated in a project on teaching ethics at Harvard, served as Chair of the English Department at Ithaca College, was a visiting associate professor at Princeton, was dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Tulsa and academic vice president at Lewis & Clark College.
If it sounds impressive, it is. But what sets Dr. Pierce apart from some of her peers is her humility and earnestness. Perhaps that is why her consulting practice is thriving (locally and nationally) and she is thrilled to be living in Boca Raton.
“When my late husband, Kenneth Pierce and I moved to Boca in 2003 I thought I knew the area well. But, to my pleasure, I discovered that living here is an even richer experience than visiting. When I taught a continuing Ed course in literature at FAU I met a lot of people who shared my love of books. My role as co-chair of the Authors & Ideas program for the Festival of the Arts BOCA has brought friendships with people who care deeply about music, literature and ideas. I’ve also learned to love Boca’s sunshine.”
Dr. Pierce’s website is: www.srpconsulting.com