Mark Burstein became Lawrence University’s 16th president in July 2013. His career has focused on the development of strategies and resources to empower individuals and their communities, primarily through his more than 20 years of experience in higher education.
His work at Lawrence has been multi-directional. At its core is his determination to ensure the affordability of a rigorous liberal arts education, to provide social and academic support for students of all means and backgrounds, and to build on the unique strengths of the University. His work in fundraising and outreach has significantly increased endowed financial aid scholarships and has deepened alumni engagement with the university. He is also leading efforts to reduce the university’s operating expenses by 7% or $3.75 million. This initiative allowed Lawrence to increase its comprehensive fees for two consecutive years by the lowest rate in twenty years. Concerned with both curricular and faculty development, he awarded micro-grants to members of the faculty using funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the development of interdisciplinary programs and began an effort to reposition study abroad opportunities within the University’s curriculum. He has also launched an intersession program: the D-Term, first of its kind at Lawrence. In one effort to deepen the partnership between Lawrence and the surrounding communities, Burstein executed an agreement with the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley that will facilitate the application process for transfer students from all 13 two-year campuses of the University of Wisconsin Colleges.
He came to Lawrence from Princeton University where he worked for nine years (2004-2013) as Executive Vice President, leading efforts to enhance campus life and modernize operations and infrastructure. While there, he taught in the Freshman Seminar Program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He also created an award winning campus master plan, wrote a sustainability plan which integrated teaching and research with administrative initiatives, launched—with the Dean of the College—a four-year residential college system, and played an active role in Princeton’s fundraising efforts.
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 was Director of Economic Development for the Department of Sanitation in NYC (1993-1994), where he helped to launch the City’s recycling program including co-founding a commodities exchange for recyclables at the Chicago Board of Trade. Before taking up government work in NYC, he was an associate in the Public Finance Division of Bear Stearns and a consultant for the Center for Applied Research in the firm’s strategy and organizational development practices.
Burstein earned his Master 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 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, and on the board of ThedaCare: a community health organization serving more than 235,000 individual patients a year in northeastern Wisconsin. At the invitation of Mayor Bloomberg, he served on the mayor’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, D.C.