Mary Alma Noonan, a financial executive who has deep leadership experience in the public and private sectors, has been hired as Lawrence University’s vice president for finance and administration.
She will join Lawrence in early August.
“Her collegial approach, her deep knowledge of finance and operations, and her clear passion for a liberal arts education prepares her well to lead Lawrence forward,” President Mark Burstein said in announcing the hiring of Noonan.
She fills the position left open by the departure earlier this academic year of Christopher Lee.
Noonan is coming from Vermont, where she is the chief financial officer for the Rutland City Public Schools. She joins Lawrence at a time of worldwide angst due to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced an abrupt transition to distance learning for Spring Term and has added much financial uncertainty to the higher education landscape.
Noonan said she believes Lawrence is well-positioned to navigate through some difficult financial challenges.
“The global pandemic, which upended spring terms on college campuses everywhere, has intensified the already challenging times higher education in this country has been experiencing,” Noonan said. “In a rapidly transforming and consolidating environment, Lawrence has a number of assets that bode well for its future: solid financial footing, distinct differentiation from its peers and competitors, and enlightened leadership.”
Much of Noonan’s career has been spent in the business world, holding financial leadership posts with Sara Lee Corporation, Arrow Electronics, and Fannie Mae before shifting her career focus to more mission-driven work.
She has a bachelor of arts degree in East Asian Studies from Middlebury College and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is fluent in Mandarin.
Noonan’s brief tenure as vice president for finance and administration at Green Mountain College right before it closed last year returned her to her liberal arts roots, making the Lawrence position that much more appealing, she said.
She emerged from a deep field of quality candidates. Finalists went through a series of interviews with members of Lawrence’s leadership team, including faculty and staff, all done from a distance because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had a very strong group of candidates from around the country for this position,” Burstein said. “Mary Alma’s deep and wide-ranging background in finance and operations at both private international companies and educational institutions made her a perfect fit for the work we have ahead.”
The conversations with Lawrentians, even done remotely, cemented her interest in joining the Lawrence family, Noonan said, referencing “universally positive interactions I have had with administrators, faculty, staff, and board members” throughout the interview process.
“I am already feeling embraced by the Lawrence community and look forward to joining everyone in person come August,” she said.
Noonan will complete the academic year at Rutland before making the move to Wisconsin.