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Lesley University taps Janet Steinmayer as its seventh president

Janet L. Steinmayer will be Lesley University's seventh president starting in July. Lesley University

Lesley University named Janet Steinmayer, who has held leadership positions in higher education and business, as its seventh president on Tuesday.

Steinmayer, who officially takes the helm in July, said she hopes to build upon the liberal arts school’s commitment to educational access.

“I think what I look forward to doing is taking that strong foundation and moving it forward,” she said in an interview.

Steinmayer replaces interim president Richard S. Hansen, who took the position last summer after former president Jeff A. Weiss stepped down because of health reasons.

She said she wants to continue the progress of the college’s expansion in Cambridge. Lesley recently completed facilities for animation studies and acquired additional buildings on its Brattle Campus in Cambridge.


She said one of her first priorities is to listen to suggestions from faculty, staff, students and residents.

“I want to have an opportunity to meet as many people as I possibly can and learn about their perspectives on the university,” she said. “I have one because I’ve been on the board for 10 years, but that’s not the perspective of the people in the community.”

Her son attended Lesley’s career-focused Threshold Program, which allowed Steinmayer to view the school’s through the perspective of a parent.

Steinmayer has served as president of Mitchell College in New London, Conn., since 2014. She’s been a Lesley trustee for a decade, as well as vice chairwoman of the board of her alma mater, Bryn Mawr College, where she’ll continue to serve.

Steinmayer has worked in fields outside academia. She started as a corporate lawyer in New York; was chief executive officer of a sports hospitality company, Centerplate; and was also general counsel for Trans World Airlines.

“I think presidencies right now require you to have a broad range of skills,” Steinmayer said. “At the same time, I think the other side of my life which is involved with higher education has helped me give students the experience that they want and deserve.”


Lesley has an endowment of $190 million and an enrollment of 2,400 undergraduates and 4,500 graduate students.

“They have a mission for students to make a change in this world that’s very compelling,” Steinmayer said. “I’d love to bring that forward with students, faculty, staff and other members of the community.”

Annika Hom can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @AnnikaHom.