Mark Burstein, Lawrence University’s 16th president, has focused on creating learning communities in which all members can reach their full potential during his more than twenty years in higher education. Burstein’s vision for Lawrence builds on the unique intellectual strengths of the university, ensures the affordability of a rigorous liberal arts education, and provides social and academic support for students of all backgrounds.
His desire to build on the intellectual strengths of Lawrence led Burstein to award grants to faculty, using funds from the Mellon Foundation, to support the development of interdisciplinary programs. These grants have enabled the creation of new majors like Global Studies and Cognitive Neuroscience, and have strengthened existing programs such as Ethnic, Environmental, and Gender Studies. A faculty working group Burstein commissioned also repositioned study abroad opportunities within the University’s curriculum. To further expand curricular options he launched an intersession program: D-Term, the first of its kind at Lawrence.
Burstein’s belief in ensuring affordability and access to a rigorous liberal arts education has driven his fundraising and outreach activities. Over the past two years Lawrence has raised more than $60 million in endowed financial aid scholarships. He is also leading efforts to reduce the university’s operating expenses by 7.75% or $4.4 million. For two consecutive years, this initiative has held comprehensive fees at Lawrence to the lowest rate of increase in over twenty years. Recognizing that future Lawrentians come from different educational backgrounds he executed an agreement with the University of Wisconsin Colleges, a 13 campus two-year institution, that facilitates the application process for transfer students.
To foster Lawrence as a place where all students can thrive he raised funds to endow an inaugural dean of spiritual and religious life. He also hired the university’s first vice president for diversity and inclusion and associate dean of the faculty. With the Provost and faculty and funding through the Department of Education’s Title III program, he has worked to increase graduation rates including the creation of a Center for Academic Success.
He came to Lawrence from Princeton University (2004-2013) where, as Executive Vice President, he led efforts to enhance campus life and modernize operations and infrastructure. While there, he taught in the Freshman Seminar Program. He also created an award-winning campus master plan, wrote a sustainability plan which integrated teaching and research with administrative initiatives, and launched, with the Dean of the College, a four-year residential college system.
At Columbia (1994-2004) he held several senior positions. As Vice President for Facilities Management he developed the plan and acquired over $250 million of real estate for the new campus now under construction: Manhattanville in West Harlem. He also oversaw the expansion of the university’s Morningside campus with over $1 billion in new construction. Earlier, as Columbia’s first Vice President of Student Services, he managed the registrar’s office, financial, health, housing, and retail services for the benefit of 20,000 students.
Before Columbia he helped launch New York City’s recycling program as Director of Economic Development for the Department of Sanitation (1993-1994) including co-founding a commodities exchange for recyclables at the Chicago Board of Trade. Before taking up government work, he was an associate in the Public Finance Division of Bear Stearns and a consultant at the Center for Applied Research in the firm’s strategy and organizational development practices.
Burstein earned his Masters in Business Administration in Finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was awarded a Morgenthau Fellowship, and he holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and Independent Studies with departmental honors from Vassar College. He holds an honorary Associate of Arts and Sciences Degree from the University of Wisconsin, Fox Valley.
He currently serves on the Vassar College Board of Trustees where he chairs the Personnel and Compensation Committee, and on the board of ThedaCare, a community health organization serving more than 235,000 individual patients a year through a network of seven hospitals and numerous clinics in northeastern Wisconsin; where he served as the inaugural chair of the Compliance Committee and now sits on the Executive Committee. He served on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Applied Sciences Advisory Board, and he was Chair of the Board of Directors of The Victory Fund: a national political action committee based in Washington, DC.