As college freshman, transfer students, and fresh faces of all kinds step onto Salisbury Univerrsity’s campus for the first time, they cannot help but feel overwhelmed. Between navigating new surroundings and meeting strangers at every twist and turn, it can add up to a big change.
Newly elected Salisbury University President Carolyn Ringer Lepre wants her students to know they are not alone. Similar to them, Lepre, who recently replaced retired president Charles Wight, is also a newcomer to town.
The new president officially took the reins on July 15, after she, her husband, and twin daughters packed their bags and moved to Salisbury — their new home.
Lepre, whose academic background is in mass communications and journalism, was previously interim president of Radford University in Virginia since July 2021. Before that, she served as the university’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.
At Radford, Lepre spearheaded several priorities, with the university debuting three fast-track online programs in 2021 geared toward working adults — RN-to-BSN, MSN, and MBA. During her tenure in that post, Radford also introduced general education curriculum that gives students more control over their coursework and cultivates individualized pathways to degree completion.
Before arriving at Radford, Lepre served for eight years at Marist College in New York, holding a host of academic and administrative positions, culminating with her deanship of the School of Communication and the Arts.
Lepre’s career has evolved over time, and she has her mentors to thank for launching her into her current educational and leadership role.
“I will be forever grateful. It was mentors, people who I was fortunate enough to come across in my life who were generous enough with their time to say, ‘You know what, we think you’d be good at this,’ ” the president said. “Then one thing leads to another and suddenly I’m not doing journalism at all, I’m an administrator, and it’s a whole different ball game.”
Lepre attended Miami University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and journalism. She received her Master of Science in Journalism degree from Ohio University and her Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Florida.
Lepre is all too familiar with nerves that stem from embarking on a journey in a new town, surrounded by new people.
“Know that I am, indeed, going through it with you. If you need someone to talk to, I’ll understand,” Lepre said with a smile.
‘Let’s tell that story’
A word of advice from the president: If someone is willing to lend a helping hand, take it.
“Take advantage of the people who are offering you help. Take advantage of all the resources that are going to be offered throughout the process of getting on campus and going through orientation,” Lepre said. “I think you’ll find that just about everyone you meet will want to put their hand out and help you.”
The president believes that it is her obligation, once students are admitted, to work as hard as she can to make sure they cross the finish line. Now, she is eagerly awaiting the start of the school year, when she will begin to meet students as they walk through the campus gates.
Lepre is already Salisbury University’s No. 1 fan.
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“We need to tell our story. We need to be celebrated,” she said. “There’s so much good that’s already happening here. Let’s tell that story as loudly and as strongly as possible.”
Olivia Minzola covers communities on the Lower Shore. Contact her with tips and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.