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Lesley chooses its new president

University chief knows teaching


A former high school English teacher and president of a New York State public college will become the next leader of Lesley University, which was founded as a teachers college.

Joseph B. Moore, 56, president of Empire State College since 2000, will assume his new job in Cambridge on July 10. He replaces Margaret A. McKenna, who during her 21-year tenure as president transformed a college of a few hundred students into a liberal arts university with 12,000 students.

Lesley trustees, who approved Moore's appointment on Thursday, announced the news yesterday.

"It has always stuck with me, the intensity of a high school classroom," said Moore, who taught high school in New Hampshire and Vermont for four years early in his career. Moore's roots as a classroom teacher and a college professor made him a favorite among faculty, said Lisa Fiore, chairwoman of the university's 185-member faculty assembly.

"He understands what we do in a classroom," said Fiore, an assistant professor and director of the university's early childhood program.

Among the challenges facing Moore at Lesley: increasing the undergraduate and graduate enrollment, relocating the Art Institute of Boston to an old church in Porter Square, and adding more online courses.

"He's aware of Lesley's desire to grow, and he appears to be the kind of person who can do that," said Donald Perrin, chairman of Lesley University's Board of Trustees. "He just electrified people with his understanding of Lesley's mission and operation."

Like Lesley, Empire State is a college experiencing considerable growth. During his six years as president, enrollment has climbed from 12,500 students to 18,000, and the college has opened a new administration building.

Empire State caters to students balancing full-time jobs and families, and is part of the State University of New York system. The college has 35 locations across New York. About a third of its students take classes online and plans are underway for a distance learning center.

Lesley is interested in expanding its online courses, particularly at the graduate level. Only roughly 250 of 11,000 students enrolled in graduate courses take them online. The bulk of them attend classes at one of the university's locations in 23 states.

The search for a new president began last summer and Moore was among three finalists. The other finalists were Jeffrey Kane, vice president of academic affairs at Long Island University, who withdrew from consideration, and Donna Randall, provost at the University of Hartford, who was named on Friday the president of Albion College in Michigan.

Moore, who is married and has two grown children, said he was attracted to Lesley because of its mission for social change.

"Graduates are very much engaged in jobs that change people's lives," he said. "It's a real intriguing institution."

Moore, who previously was provost and vice president of academic affairs at the public Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, has strong ties to New England. He worked for seven years in the chancellor's office of the Vermont State Colleges, and earned a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts, a master's in English from the University of New Hampshire, and a doctorate in education administration from the University of Vermont.

James Vaznis can be reached at

(Correction: Because of a reporting error, a story in Tuesday's City & Region section about Lesley University misstated the university's 1985 enrollment. Enrollment that year, including graduate students, was about 4,000.)