President Laura Skandera Trombley
Dr. Laura Skandera Trombley is the 16th president of Southwestern University and its first woman president. In her inaugural year she led the development of a 5-Year Tactical Plan that has already resulted in many key improvements on campus ranging from student recruitment, advising and retention to major upgrades in student recreational, dining and housing amenities. She also led the development of a master plan that is transforming the campus with multiple enhancements to the built environment.
She recently led the university in a successful $80 million bond issuance that will help fund more than $120 million in improvements to campus including two new mixed-use residence halls, a baseball/softball fieldhouse, a new mixed-use Athletics Complex, and a major remodeling of historic Mood-Bridwell Hall.
This fall, after two years as president, Dr. Trombley welcomed one of SU’s largest incoming classes ever, while graduates from 2021 reported that 98 percent of them were employed, in graduate school, or volunteering. Under her leadership SU has also risen dramatically among the best liberal arts institutions in the nation, recently moving up 13 places in U.S. News & World Report’s2023 Best Colleges rankings—the biggest single-year jump in school history—while also being recognized as a top school for advancing the social mobility of recent graduates.
Prior to joining Southwestern Dr. Trombley served as the president of the University of Bridgeport. Under her leadership U.S. News & World Reportranked the University of Bridgeport for the first time among the top 381 national universities. She is also president emerita of Pitzer College, where she served for 13 years, and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Previously, she served as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
A tenured professor in SU’s Department of English, Dr. Trombley is the author of five books and is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished Mark Twain scholars in the world. A recipient of many awards for her scholarship, Dr. Trombley was recognized by The Mark Twain Journalas a Legacy Scholar in spring 2019 for her efforts in rehabilitating the intellectual reputations of the women who surrounded Mark Twain. In 2017 she won the Louis J. Budd Award for her contributions to Mark Twain studies.
Dr. Trombley graduated summa cum laude with a master of arts in English from Pepperdine University. She received her doctorate in English from the University of Southern California.