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Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts Elects New Board Members

Western New England University President Robert Johnson as Chair


For immediate release

June 27, 2023


Belmont, MA – Robert E. Johnson, president of Western New England University, has been elected chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICU Mass) for the 2023-2024 term. Steven DiSalvo, president of Endicott College, will serve as Vice-Chair, while Mary-Lou Retelle, president of Anna Maria College, will continue to serve as Secretary and Treasurer.

AICU Mass also welcomed three new members who were elected to join the Board this year: President William Leahy of Boston College; President Kenneth Elmore of Dean College; and President Michaele Whelan of Wheaton College. All appointments were effective June 1, 2023.

“In the past year, the work of AICU Mass has included critical convenings around the topics of diversity and belonging, and the mental health of our college communities,” said Robert E. Johnson, president of

Western New England University and AICU Mass board chair.  “With our private colleges and universities in Massachusetts educating more Pell eligible and first-generation college students, creating policies around access and affordability will remain a top priority. I am very much looking forward to serving as chair.”

“Dr. Johnson’s career in higher education is rich and varied, with experience in both the public and private sectors, serving both small and large schools,” said Rob McCarron, president and CEO of AICU Mass. “I know he will bring tremendous insight to our work; I am looking forward to working with him.”

President Johnson succeeds Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly, who will continue to serve as ex-officio.

McCarron continued: “I also want to thank President Marisa Kelly from Suffolk University for her service as chair of our board during the past year. Her leadership was instrumental to our success. I know she will continue to make important contributions as an ex officio member of the board.”

Johnson serves as the sixth president of Western New England University, having been appointed in August 2020. His career spans nonprofit colleges and universities in the Northeast and Midwest, including public, private, urban, rural, small and large institutions, with enrollments from 2,000 to more than 25,000 students. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration from Touro University International, formerly a division of Touro College, New York; a master’s degree in education administration from the University of Cincinnati; a bachelor’s degree in economics from Morehouse College; and a certificate in applied neuroscience from MIT Sloan School of Management.

The 2023-2024 AICU Mass Board of Directors:


Chair: Robert Johnson, Western New England University

Vice-Chair: Steven DiSalvo, Endicott College

Secretary/Treasurer: Mary-Lou Retelle, Anna Maria College


Board Members

Brent Chrite, Bentley University

Kenneth Elmore, Dean College

David Fithian, Clark University

Aisha Francis, Franklin Cummings Tech

Lily Hsu, Laboure College of Healthcare

Marisa Kelly, Suffolk University (ex officio)

Father William Leahy, Boston College

Maud Mandel, Williams College

Michaela Whelan, Wheaton College


About the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts

AICU Mass represents 59 independent colleges and universities throughout the Commonwealth, educating more than 285,000 students each year and employing nearly 100,000. Our members include large nationally renowned research universities, smaller, highly regarded liberal arts colleges, religiously affiliated institutions, and colleges with special missions focused on business or music or allied health services. AICU Mass plays a critical role in advocating for college affordability, including state and federal funding for need- based student financial aid, federal research support and addressing state and federal legislative and regulatory issues.



November 08, 2023