UMass Dartmouth announces new Chief of Staff

Dr. Donna Lisker, former Smith College Dean of the College and Duke University Associate Vice Provost chosen after national search

Headshot of Donna Lisker

UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson has appointed Dr. Donna Lisker as his Chief of Staff. Dr. Lisker, who begins her new position today, served since 2014 as Smith College Dean of the College and previously served as Duke University Associate Vice Provost.

“Donna brings a track record of effective and innovative higher education management to this critical leadership post,” Chancellor Johnson said. “Her experience as a senior administrator, problem solver and strategic thinker will be highly valuable as we transform UMass Dartmouth to meet the 21st century needs of students, the region, and the Commonwealth.”

“I am truly excited to join Dr. Johnson’s team and start collaborating with students, faculty, staff, and the community to advance UMass Dartmouth’s mission,” Dr. Lisker said. “UMass Dartmouth’s rich history of creating opportunity for people, its strong leadership, and its willingness to embrace fast-emerging educational and economic challenges attracted me.”

Dr. Lisker was appointed Dean of the College and Vice President of Campus Life at Smith College in July 2014.  In that role, she oversaw all things undergraduate, from first-year orientation through commencement, and served on the President’s Cabinet.

Prior to Smith College, Dr. Lisker had a 15-year career at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.  From 2007-2014, she served as the Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, which included coordination of all aspects of the undergraduate experience – academic, residential, social and co-curricular. In 2004, she founded the Baldwin Scholars, Duke’s prestigious women’s leadership program, and served as its co-director until her departure from Duke.  From 1999-2007, she served as Director of the Duke University Women’s Center, where she led the undergraduate research component of the Duke University Women’s Initiative.

A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Lisker received her B.A. from Williams College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She is married to Peter Schwaller, an open-source software development manager, and they have two college-age daughters, Samantha and Veronica. 


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