Dr. Jeffrey P. Stein, vice president for strategic initiatives & partnerships and assistant professor of English at Elon University, has been elected as Mary Baldwin University’s 10th president. Stein will be introduced at a special community gathering at noon, April 14, in James D. Francis Auditorium on MBU’s main campus.
Jeffrey P. Stein Elected 10th President of Mary Baldwin University
April 14, 2023
“Jeff Stein’s experiences across academia demonstrate leadership in and out of the classroom, his mastery of strategic planning lifts all campus stakeholders, and his ability to lead in challenging times speaks to a critical moment in higher education,” said MBU Board of Trustees Chair Gabrielle G. “Gabby” McCree ’83. “Above all, Jeff understands the power of higher education to improve the lives of students and their families, and he is compelled by the Mary Baldwin mission. This is a historic moment for MBU, and also an exciting one for the entire university community. I can’t wait for you to meet him.”
Stein will succeed President Pamela R. Fox on July 1, 2023, and will visit campus periodically in the interim to prepare for the presidential transition. Fox will conclude a historic 20-year presidency that began in July 2003. She announced her retirement last August at the annual State of the University address, and the Board of Trustees conducted a national search for her successor.
A transformational and inclusive senior leader, Stein brings more than 30 years of higher education experience to Mary Baldwin across academic, student engagement and administrative areas of university life. As vice president at Elon, located in Elon, North Carolina, he led development and implementation of the university’s 10-year strategic plan as well as Elon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He oversees the student professional development center, leadership and professional development, professional and continuing studies, and cultural and special programs.
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as Mary Baldwin University’s 10th president and thrilled to be joining this dynamic community, which for 181 years has made courageous decisions to change lives through inclusive, experiential, and student-centered education,” Stein said. “I look forward to getting to know and work with students, faculty, staff, alumni, Trustees, and community partners in Mary Baldwin’s next chapter, as together we ensure all students can learn, thrive and bring knowledge, skills and light to our world.”
“I am honored and humbled to be chosen as Mary Baldwin University’s 10th president and thrilled to be joining this dynamic community, which for 181 years has made courageous decisions to change lives through inclusive, experiential, and student-centered education.”Jeff Stein, President-Elect
The 15-member MBU Presidential Search Committee — composed of faculty, staff, alumni, recent graduates, senior leadership, trustees, and former trustees — partnered with executive search firm, Academic Search, to glean insight from the broader university community and recruit a highly qualified and talented pool of candidates. The committee reviewed scores of applications, conducted two rounds of candidate interviews, and identified four finalists. Those candidates traveled to MBU for a final round of meetings with select groups of students, administrators, faculty, and staff. Last month, the committee sent their unanimous recommendation to the Board of Trustees, which elected Stein to serve as the next president.
Helen Forster ’83 and fellow Trustee Harvey Westbrook co-chaired the search committee. Westbrook said Stein demonstrated the ability to connect with people across the university during the extensive interview process and noted that Stein understands that Mary Baldwin has always evolved to serve students in their time.
“Jeff is a sharp, dynamic, and collaborative leader who consistently impressed us throughout the interview process,” Westbrook said. “His outstanding strategic and analytical skills include a profound understanding of the current challenges facing higher education and MBU’s continuing need to transform. His extensive experience with long-term strategic transformations at Elon made it clear that he was the right person for the position.”
Forster added, “We are excited and confident about Dr. Stein’s ability to inspire and motivate the MBU community to fulfill its mission and strengthen Mary Baldwin for the future.”
Strategic Planning and Leadership
Named Elon’s vice president for strategic initiatives and partnerships in 2019, Stein was charged with creating and implementing Elon’s latest strategic plan. The 10-year Boldly Elon strategic plan was designed to continue and expand the trajectory that has propelled Elon from a regional college to a top-100 national university over the past three decades.
The plan’s four themes include innovative new engineering and nursing programs; initiatives to promote health and well-being, mentoring, equity, inclusion, and intercultural competence; alumni professional development; community collaboration; expanded admissions efforts; and endowment and financial aid growth.
Thousands of constituents across the Elon community participated in envisioning the university’s future in the broader context of societal trends and challenges. The strategic plan drives the development of annual budget and institutional priorities and maintains a sharp focus on student success.
“Dr. Jeff Stein has provided significant leadership in Elon’s development as a national university over the past 21 years,” said Elon President Connie Ledoux Book. “He is a passionate advocate for student success and has been a valued member of the Elon community with his positive and creative spirit. With Jeff’s deep understanding of the power of higher education to transform lives, we look forward to seeing the impact of his leadership at Mary Baldwin University.”
Throughout his career, Stein has built and led cross-functional teams to solve complex problems, enhance engaged learning programs, and reshape institutional programs and culture. He is highly collaborative and adept at leading through listening and building consensus to help students, faculty, and staff thrive, to deepen the focus on students and learning, and to partner with local communities.
During his time as a student affairs dean at Elon from 2002 to 2010, Stein spearheaded a campus-wide initiative to design a $150 million residential plan focused on integrating living and learning across the campus. Stein joined Elon’s senior staff in 2010, serving as chief of staff and secretary to the board of trustees for two Elon presidents.
He is currently leading teams to develop regional centers in major U.S. cities, which will offer students immersive professional experience and coursework, alumni professional development and networking, and prospective students touchpoints for admission. Stein is co-leading another initiative to develop a groundbreaking student mentoring model.
Stein will bring to MBU skills in relationship-building, high-level communications and fundraising: He served as primary prospect manager for dozens of supporters over the years, and worked closely with Elon’s advancement team, the president and donors to raise more than $4 million in endowment and annual gifts to support the growth of Jewish life and Jewish studies. He also often serves as the university point person for local officials, business leaders, and non-profit partners.
Engaged Learning and Student Professional Development
Stein is a strong proponent for engaged and experiential learning. He oversees Elon’s top-10 nationally ranked Student Professional Development Center, which helps students prepare for and obtain internships, and succeed in their job searches, post-graduate fellowships and graduate school. Ninety-six percent of Elon’s class of 2022 are in jobs, fellowships, or graduate school.
His experience building engaged learning programs — particularly those that ensure students can articulate their skills, interests and experiences, and create tangible outcomes after graduation — positions him well to advance MBU’s new McCree Center for Life Success, and to support the work of MBU’s faculty and staff to enhance learning, retention, and student success during their time at MBU and beyond.
In the classroom, he has taught writing, literature, and identity utilizing multiple engaged learning pedagogies. Beyond the classroom, he has developed collaborative faculty-staff teams that have built nationally recognized engaged learning programs: Elon’s service-learning program is ranked No. 3 in the country by U.S. News and World Report and its living-learning communities are ranked No. 1.
“Dr. Jeff Stein is an outstanding leader with vision who embodies creativity, collaboration, and an intense focus on student success,” said Elon President Emeritus Leo M Lambert. “He combines these qualities with kindness, inclusiveness, empathy, and humor, and is widely regarded as one of the most respected and trusted senior administrators at Elon. Dr. Stein is a gifted teacher, a sought-after mentor, and a builder of campus community. His spouse, Chrissy Stein, also a gifted educator, will be a strong advocate for the entire MBU family.”
Equity and Inclusion
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are deeply embedded in Stein’s work, and he has been a strong advocate and supporter of DEI through dialogue, best practices, scholarship, fundraising, and grants.
His doctoral dissertation focused on presidential roles in shaping campus culture and climate to ensure access and success for the broadest range of students.
Similarly, his work on the Boldly Elon strategic plan resulted in campus initiatives focused on three crucial areas: increasing representational diversity; building support for diverse students, faculty, and staff; and enhancing intercultural competencies. As part of these efforts, he participated in the formation and work of the Committee on Elon History and Memory, charged with examining Elon’s institutional history and developing policies to make the campus more just and inclusive.
His leadership in creating a welcoming environment for Jewish students at Elon resulted in growing the campus Jewish population from 50 to more than 800. He co-developed, published and presented a rubric to guide campuses on designing the leadership, programs, academics, facilities and systems to support and grow any diverse community on campus.
About Dr. Stein
Stein earned a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Georgia, a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Colorado State University, a master’s degree in English from the University of Northern Colorado, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Beloit College in Wisconsin.
Stein’s publications include articles and book chapters on governing boards, the residential campus, inclusive campuses, multi-faith leadership, academic and student affairs partnerships, and service learning, as well as authored poems appearing in Third Coast, Diner, Front Range Review, and more.
Locally in Alamance County, North Carolina, Stein serves as chair of the United Way board and on the Downtown Elon Advisory Board and the Alamance Economic Development Foundation board.
Stein’s parents were the first in their family to attend college, and his grandparents survived the Holocaust and Russian pogroms to make a new life in the United States. His wife, Chrissy Stein, teaches English at Elon, and their children, Lena and Benny, are graduates of Carleton College and Wesleyan University, respectively.