New President and Board

Rodney Hanley is LSSU’s Tenth President

New President and BoardINCOMING LSSU PRESIDENT – Current LSSU President Peter Mitchell, left, hands the leadership torch off to incoming president Rodney Hanley during a March 16 Board of Trustees meeting in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. From left are trustees Tom Bailey, Richard Barch, Mitchell, Hanley, Ann Parker (presidential search chair), Randy Pingatore, and Board Chair Rodney Nelson. Hanley starts as LSSU’s tenth president no later than July 1. Trustees not pictured are Mark Mercer and Sandi Frost Steensma. (LSSU/John Shibley)

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SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — Rodney S. Hanley, Ph.D., has been named the next president of Lake Superior State University. His appointment is effective July 1 after approval by LSSU’s Board of Trustees at during a meeting on March 16.


Hanley comes to Lake State from Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., one of the nation’s top historically black colleges and universities, where he has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs since 2014. A few key accomplishments during his time at Fisk include developing a new program evaluation system that was career-focused within a liberal arts foundation, designing a new five-year strategic plan, and developing new majors in response to student and employer demand.

Hanley earned his Ph.D. in biology from the University of Kansas, his Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership from the University of Cambridge in England, and his M.S. and B.S. in environmental biology from Eastern Illinois University.

Prior to his leadership at Fisk, Hanley was provost and academic vice president at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., Canada; dean of science at the University of Winnipeg; and chair of the Department of Earth System Science and Policy at the University of North Dakota. Click to view Dr. Hanley’s CV.

“Dr. Hanley’s leadership experiences in Canada and the U.S., coupled with his achievements in academic program development, enrollment growth, economic development, and fundraising equip him to guide LSSU with distinction,” said LSSU Board of Trustees Chair Rod Nelson.

Hanley also has held research positions at the University of Kansas and Washington State University. Before entering academia, Hanley served as Sergeant and Squad Leader, 233rd Military Police Company, Illinois Army National Guard, and U.S. Army Reserve.

“The challenges confronting higher education are as great now as any time within the last century. Shifting financial models, changing student needs and interests, demographic changes, new expectations from industry and society, access for students from all backgrounds, and challenges to academic excellence are all major issues that universities must confront. I have focused my entire career on leading my units and organizations to meet these challenges,” stated Hanley.

As the next president of LSSU, I will bring energy, passion, dedication, good humor, and experience to boldly confront these issues.  I believe LSSU is well poised for enrollment growth and academic expansion into exciting new areas.  My goal is to elevate LSSU to the next level of achievement as an institution.  I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to lead LSSU and I offer my thanks to the search committee and the board.Rodney Hanley, LSSU President-elect

Hanley will be the tenth president of LSSU, and succeeds Peter T. Mitchell, who has served as president since July of last year.  The Presidential Search Committee understood that the next leader of LSSU must increase enrollment by implementing effective recruitment and retention strategies, have extensive financial management skills, possess the ability to fundraise for key campus initiatives, and be a strong community builder. “Dr. Hanley is uniquely qualified to address these issues head on and lead LSSU into a bright future,” stated Trustee Vice-Chair and Search Committee Chair Ann Parker.

“I have been very impressed with his grasp of the challenges facing LSSU, but even more his appreciation of inherent strengths of the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community leaders and his vision for the opportunities awaiting a university we all dearly love,” commented President Mitchell. “The transition in leadership should be a smooth and vibrant one and Dr. Hanley’s presidency will be marked by significant achievements amidst a culture of optimism and caring.  The future will be filled with many great days at Lake State.”

A video of Hanley’s March 16 post-appointment press conference is here.

CONTACTS: Kellie Greener 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 906-635-2314,