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Client Testimonials

Read what other's have to say about Susan.

Philip S. Khoury (American University of Beirut)

Philip S. Khoury

July 30, 2020


In the summer of 2019, Dr. Susan Pierce agreed to serve as consultant to the Board of Trustees of the American University of Beirut (AUB), which is the oldest and largest U.S. accredited university outside the United States.  Her assignment: to help navigate the AUB Board of Trustees through an important but complex exercise to bring its governance fully into the 21st century.


Dr. Pierce admits that before she accepted her assignment she had not encountered a Board quite like the AUB Board, with its 45 regular trustees with no fixed term limits and distributed across the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, and with another dozen emeriti trustees who participate fully in its deliberations.  Nor had she worked with a university obliged to respect both US law and the law of its host country, or that exists in such an unstable region of the world.


The AUB Board leadership has at different times in the past twenty years hired consultants to help it  become more deliberately strategic in the pursuit of its mission.  They came to the Board with national reputations and served us well.  But, none has been as creative, thoughtful, and deliberate, or as patient, as Dr. Pierce in advancing us to our stated goal, and in line with best practices in not-for-profit American universities.  What has allowed her to advance so ably the Board’s goal of revamping its organization is her vast knowledge from years of consulting on Board governance, about which she writes so intelligently, and her on-the-ground experience from serving with distinction as a university president; that experience required her to learn from the inside how to enable the very board that hired her to perfect its own governance system.  Dr. Pierce’s credentials are impeccable.


Dr. Pierce did an enormous amount of homework before she began to roll out for the trustees’ Governance Review Committee a viable restructuring plan.  She attended full Board meetings and specific committee meetings to observe close up Board behavior.  She met with many trustees and the university leadership, and she has been fully engaged in the Board’s deliberations on proposed governance changes.  She advanced the Board’s main goal: to become far more nimble and strategic in the pursuit of its mission and at the same time allow the daily management of the university to remain where it belongs, in the hands of the AUB president and his senior management team. Throughout her work Dr. Pierce also made certain to respect the best aspects of the Board’s culture and traditions.


Dr. Pierce has moved the AUB Board to the point where it will shortly vote in a major Board restructuring plan and begin to implement it on an accelerated timetable.  By November 2020, the Board will begin to test the plan in its different dimensions.  That all this has been accomplished is extraordinary, and especially because Dr. Pierce has had to work with the completely unexpected: a global pandemic and, in Lebanon’s case, the rapid decline of its economy and financial system, which has required exceptionally difficult and painful changes at AUB itself.  At a time when it is easy to become distracted, Dr. Pierce kept our Board moving forward and always with sensitivity to the prevailing conditions and constraints we face.  She continues to work closely with our Governance Review Committee and our full Board.


If new needs arise from within our Board or from our senior leadership team in Beirut that require external advice, I would first turn to Dr. Susan Pierce for her input. I know our president feels the same way.  As a consultant to university boards on matters of governance and much else she is sui generis.  I feel privileged to be working with Dr. Pierce.

Philip S. Khoury
Chairman, Board of Trustees, American University of Beirut
(Associate Provost, Ford International Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

G. Gabrielle Starr (Pomona College)

G. Gabrielle Starr

Dr. Pierce worked with me, my senior leadership team, and my board across several months. When it came to board effectiveness, she helped us understand ways to enhance communication, increase deliberative time during meetings, and reorganize our work more strategically. For my team, she worked individually with them to help us shift from a model largely centered on reporting to a strategic prioritization of topics and scaffolding for decision making. For me, she brought her years of experience as a college president to give me support in thinking through the best ways to foster a team mindset to unite the board and the vice presidents on shared mission and purpose. Her wisdom and knowledge are invaluable, and her ability to navigate tough topics is superb. I’m grateful!

G. Gabrielle Starr

Daniel J. Buckley (Wilmington College Board of Trustees)

Buckley Daniel

There are consultants, and there is Susan Pierce. With stellar credentials that include an
extraordinarily successful college presidency, she brings deep knowledge, experience, expertise,
and insight to her work. As a former college president, she understands not only the job of the
president, but relationships with their boards, faculty, staff and students. As a former faculty
member, she understands the relationships of faculty with their institutions. She relates easily to
every constituency, listens well, observes objectively, and provides forward looking suggestions
designed for the specific client. She learns about the traditions and history of each institution. In
short, her work product is excellent.

But there is more. Susan Pierce is savvy, honest, and a genuine pleasure to work with. She is one of
those people with whom others just want to talk and share their views and stories. She loves her
work and cares about the institutions and people she serves. There are consultants, and there is
Susan Pierce.

Daniel J. Buckley, Vice Chair

Cheryl Glicker Milstein (Barnard College)

Barnard College recently brought Susan on to conduct a 360 review of our president. She quickly became known as very thoughtful and helpful in guiding the discussion and framing the right questions, in both private and semi private meetings with all constituents, making this process pleasant and easy for everyone involved.
As Susan is able to draw from her past experience as a college president and her current role as educational advisor, her judgment was incredibly valuable. I found her to be focused on the right path, listening to what everyone had to say and synthesizing the information in a way that not only aided the trustees now, but will help form guidelines for use in future evaluations.
As a newly appointed board chair, I counted on Susan to answer questions for me in areas that I was unfamiliar with. She not only drew from her own personal knowledge and experience, she also shared other sources to help me gain a more comprehensive view. I am truly grateful for this extraordinary assistance.
Susan is a wonderful, patient, and very knowledgeable leader in the field of higher education, effective board governance, and presidential performance evaluations.Though tasked with a very specific job for Barnard, she became a great asset to the College on many levels, and we would not hesitate to consult with her again.
Cheryl Glicker Milstein
Chair of the Board of Trustees for Barnard College

Tiffany Masson, Psy.D., President, Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine

Tiffany Masson, Psy.D., President, Kansas College of Osteopathic Medicine

In an era where transformative leadership is essential, Dr. Susan Pierce has been an invaluable guide and advisor. Over the past five years, her partnership has been instrumental in refining our strategic direction, enhancing our governance structures, and fostering a culture that reflects effective collaboration across all levels of our university.

Dr. Pierce’s approach is deeply personalized and meticulously thorough. She began her engagement with us by gaining an intimate understanding of our college’s development, challenges, and aspirations. This groundwork allowed her to provide tailored advice that resonated deeply with our specific needs and objectives.  Dr. Pierce has demonstrated an exceptional ability to synthesize diverse viewpoints and navigate complex organizational dynamics. Her guidance in strategic planning and board development has been particularly transformative, helping us align our goals with actionable strategies that drive genuine progress.

Dr. Pierce has a profound commitment to those she serves and her recommendations come from a place of exceptional experience.  Personally, I have found Dr. Pierce’s executive coaching to be profoundly impactful. Her ability to challenge conventional thinking and illuminate new pathways has enriched my own leadership approach, enabling me to lead with greater clarity and purpose.  Ultimately, Dr. Pierce is more than a consultant. She is a strategic partner whose dedication and expertise have been pivotal in our pursuit of excellence. I am deeply appreciative of her ongoing contributions and wholeheartedly recommend her services to any educational institution aspiring to thrive in today’s complex landscape.

Tiffany Masson, Psy.D.

Vincent Rougeau (College of the Holy Cross)

Vincent Rougeau, Holy Cross

During the first year of my presidency at the College of the Holy Cross, we engaged Susan Pierce to lead the board, faculty, and administration toward improved collaboration around a common understanding of shared governance. Susan’s style was warm and engaging, and I was particularly impressed with her ability to be an active and engaged listener.  She conducted numerous group conversations and 1:1 meetings with members of the board, faculty, and administration, and she inspired confidence across a very diverse group of people.  As a new president, I was particularly appreciative of her wide-ranging perspective from a diverse set of colleges and universities around the country.  She was able to offer very useful advice in real time on a number of issues that I was facing related to governance and community climate that emerged naturally as part of her consulting work with our community.  Her final report was excellent and concise, and it immediately became an important point of reference for us as we have worked to nurture a healthy culture of shared governance at Holy Cross. I recommend Susan highly.  She is an excellent partner and advisor for this important work.

Vincent D. Rougeau

Robyn Hannigan, President Ursinus College

President Ursinus College

I am pleased to provide this testimonial for Susan Resneck Pierce, whose exceptional guidance and expertise have been instrumental during my transition into my first presidency at Ursinus College. Her unwavering support and strategic insights have facilitated my personal growth and significantly benefited our institution.

From day one, Susan demonstrated an unparalleled ability to help me navigate big issues and smaller, intricate challenges. Her work with our college’s board has been particularly impactful, fostering a culture of good governance and strengthening our collective ability to steer the institution toward its strategic goals. Her adeptness in leading collaborative governance and strategic leadership workshops has profoundly influenced my leadership team’s approach, ensuring a cohesive and forward-thinking environment.

Susan possesses a rare blend of professionalism, wisdom, and practical know-how, making her an invaluable asset to any organization. Her contributions have been pivotal in enhancing my leadership capabilities and helping me drive our college’s mission forward in these increasingly complex and challenging times. I wholeheartedly endorse her services and am grateful for her continued partnership and support.

Robyn Hannigan

Robyn Hannigan, Provost (Clarkson University)

Robyn Hannigan, Provost, Clarkson University

I cannot speak highly enough about the highest quality experience we had working with Dr. Susan Pierce. I also cannot imagine where we would be without her support of our efforts over the past year.
Dr. Pierce’s expertise and her extraordinary ability to engage multiple stakeholders in complex, sometimes fraught, conversations about shared governance profoundly and positively affected the culture and climate here at Clarkson University. Indeed, Dr. Pierce’s ability to quickly establish trust with the faculty and create inclusive spaces for dialog, even while remote due to COVID-19, are testament to her integrity, honesty, and kindness. With Dr. Pierce’s able partnership, Clarkson’s faculty, administration, and board of trustees developed a common understanding of faculty governance and shared governance. With common understanding and a renewed culture of transparency and trust, we have enacted positive, transformational policies, procedures, and processes. Thanks in very large part to the work Dr. Pierce did with us, we are, as a university, more united in purpose and more aligned in action than we have been in a long time.

Robyn Hannigan

Robert G. Jones (University of Evansville Board of Trustees)

University of Evansville Board of Trustees

The University of Evansville Board of Trustees engaged Susan to help us build a more agile, deliberative, and collaborative governance structure to shape and support the University for 21st century higher education. The University of Evansville is a small, liberal arts university. Susan’s experience with liberal arts institutions as a university president and member of the faculty were pivotal as she could genuinely relate to the challenges facing both our president and our faculty. Her insights into Board leadership and interactions with the president were invaluable as she brought incredible clarity into the Board and administration dynamics.

Susan is compassionate, perceptive, and discerning. Our governance restructuring efforts followed a period of change where some wounds were still open. Susan established a safe, confidential space that encouraged open and honest dialogue from the administration, staff, faculty, and trustees. She demonstrated sensitive insight as she distilled a diversity of views and concerns down to their essence. Susan’s ability to establish trusting relationships with the administration, staff, faculty, and trustees made her a critical partner in our efforts.

The Board’s initial governance restructuring culminated in the unanimous approval of a new university charter and bylaws within 14 months of hiring Susan. As the Board implements our new governance structure and strengthens our collaborative work with the administration, faculty, and staff, Susan’s continued guidance and expertise will be invaluable.

Robert G. Jones; Anita Horn Rizek
Board Chair; Chair of the Governance and Trusteeship Committee and Governance Task Force

Laurie Silvers, University of Miami

University of Miami Board Chair, Laurie Silvers
We engaged Susan for guidance as we planned and hosted the University of Miami Board of Trustees’ first retreat in several years. Her well-rounded experience, insights into trends and practices in higher education, and willingness to get to know us as a Board was invaluable. Her accessibility and ability to consider innovative approaches to challenges all universities face was refreshing and helpful. Susan made it a point to truly understand our mission at the U and was enthusiastic about helping us improve governance. She has proven to be a terrific resource.
Laurie Silvers

Alisa Gaunder (Southwestern University)

Alisa Gaunder Southwestern Uni

Susan Pierce engaged with Southwestern University to promote a better understanding of shared governance among faculty, administrators and trustees.  She met with various constituencies, presented best practices, and most crucially listened.

In my opinion, Susan’s greatest strength lies in her ability to build relationships and trust in a short period of time. Faculty responded to her warmth, empathy  and deep attention.

Over the course of a year with her guidance and support our institution successfully created an aspirational statement on shared governance endorsed by both faculty and trustees.

Personally, as Dean of the Faculty and a close partner with her in this work, I continue to benefit from her wisdom and generosity of spirit.  She is a valued and trusted mentor who has encouraged me to amplify my presence and voice in higher ed conversations.  Her consulting work has been a true bright spot in my career.

Alisa Gaunder,

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President (Yeshiva University)

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, President, Yeshiva University

I have benefitted enormously from working with Dr. Susan Piece. Fittingly, she combines piercing insight, experience and wisdom together with warmth, compassion and understanding to her impactful work. I recommend her wholeheartedly to new and veteran leadership who are looking for guidance in navigating and excelling in the shifting terrain of higher education.

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman