Southwestern University

President Laura Skandera Trombley

16th President of Southwestern University

Laura E. Skandera Trombley, Ph.D. Credit: Rudy Ximenez

Laura E. Skandera Trombley, Ph.D., is the 16th President of Southwestern University. The first woman to hold the top leadership position at Texas’s oldest university, Dr. Trombley began her term as president on July 1, 2020.

“It is fitting that Southwestern University starts this new decade in historic fashion. Dr. Trombley’s reputation and body of work in higher education is truly impressive. She is a gifted scholar, proven leader, and passionate advocate for liberal arts education.”
- Stephen G. Tipps, Chair of Southwestern University’s Board of Trustees.

About Laura Skandera Trombley

Laura Skandera Trombley, a gifted scholar, proven leader, and passionate advocate for liberal-arts education, is Southwestern University’s 16th President. She is the first woman chosen to lead Texas’s first university.

Trombley is the former president of the University of Bridgeport and president emerita of Pitzer College and The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. Previously, she served as vice president for academic affairs at Coe College, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Recognized by her peers as a champion of liberal-arts institutions, Trombley’s leadership has earned praise for her ability to raise sustainability awareness, establish best-in-class university operations, and drive exponential growth in fundraising. Under her leadership, both Pitzer College and the University of Bridgeport experienced transformational change, realizing a dramatic improvement in the schools’ national rankings and fundraising capabilities.

Trombley is a preeminent Mark Twain scholar. Her most recent book is Mark Twain’s Other Woman (Knopf, 2011). Her first book, Mark Twain in the Company of Women (University of Pennsylvania Press), was published in 1994. In 2017, Trombley won the Louis J. Budd Award for her contributions to Mark Twain studies. Her scholarly articles have appeared in the Paris Review, Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications. She has edited three books: Constructing Mark Twain: New Directions in Scholarship (coedited with Michael Kiskis; University of Missouri Press, 2001), Critical Essays on Maxine Hong Kingston (G. K. Hall, 1998), and Epistemology: Turning Points in the History of Poetic Knowledge (coedited with Roland Hagenbuechle; Fredrich Pustat, 1986).

Trombley has also written extensively about the underrepresentation of women and people of color in academia.

A California native and the daughter of two educators, Trombley enrolled at the age of 16 as a first-year student at Pepperdine University and subsequently earned her bachelor of arts in English/humanities. She remained at Pepperdine to complete a master of arts in English, graduating summa cum laude. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Southern California as a Virginia Barbara Middleton Scholar and a recipient of the Lester and Irene Finkelstein Fellowship for Outstanding Humanities Student.

Trombley is the proud mother of a college senior. She will make her home in Georgetown, Texas.

Read Trombley’s full biography

“Southwestern University has been an institution I have long admired. As I have watched its growth, I am continually impressed by the quality of its students, expertise of its faculty, and its ongoing success in admissions, fundraising, and creation of innovative curriculum. These are challenging times, especially in higher education. I welcome these challenges and am excited to join the Southwestern community in ensuring we remain at the forefront of liberal arts universities.”
- Laura E. Skandera Trombley, Ph.D.

Join the Conversation

We are excited to welcome President-Elect Laura Skandera Trombley to Southwestern University. Join our celebration by sending a message using #SU16th on social media. Here’s what people are saying: