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May 1, 2024

Fitchburg State selects first woman president in school’s 130-year history

A woman in a suit jacket and red dress or blouse Photo | Courtesy of Fitchburg State University Donna Hodge, the 12th president of Fitchburg State University

The board of trustees at Fitchburg State University has nominated Donna Hodge, the vice president of operations & advancement at Colorado State University, Pueblo, to be the 12th president of the university.

If hired, Hodge would be the first woman president in the school’s 130-year history, according to the school’s list of prior presidents on its website. Hodge’s hiring is contingent upon approval by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and a successful contract negotiation, according to a press release issued by Fitchburg State on Wednesday.

Hodge’s potential hiring would conclude a process that began in October, when President Richard Lapidus announced he would be retiring at the end of the 2023-24 academic year, which ends on May 14. The university announced the final four candidates for the role on April 2. One candidate, Michael Godard, provost at Southeast Missouri State University, dropped out of contention on April 10 after accepting a role as the president of Indiana State University. 

“This was a difficult decision with a strong slate of finalists to lead Fitchburg State,” Deborah Phillips, board chair for the university, said in the press release. “We are confident Dr. Hodge has the leadership skills and experience to find consensus among campus constituencies as we confront the challenges facing all institutions of higher education. She is a strong communicator who is mindful of the critical role that public higher education plays in the success of the city and region.”

Hodge has been employed at Colorado State University, Pueblo since 2010. In addition to her role as a vice president at the school, she previously served as its chief strategy officer and a tenured faculty member. 

Hodge holds a doctorate in rhetoric from Texas Woman’s University, as well as a master’s degree in women’s studies from Texas Woman’s and a master’s degree in English and history from Texas A&M University Texarkana.

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