Since becoming the fifth president of the University of New England on July 1, 2006, Danielle N. Ripich, Ph.D. has guided UNE through a period of unprecedented growth. Under her leadership, UNE has dramatically expanded its two campuses in Maine, opened a revolutionary study abroad campus in Tangier, Morocco, and has solidified its stature as the leading supplier of health care professionals for the state of Maine.
From the day she assumed office, imploring UNE students, faculty and staff members to steer for the “deep waters only” in her inaugural address, President Ripich has worked tirelessly to infuse the university with the institutional characteristics she deems most essential to success in the 21st century. The UNE that has evolved from this vision is bold, innovative, eager to disrupt the status quo, socially conscious and committed to imbuing its students with global awareness.
Recognizing that UNE’s exceptional programs in the health sciences gave it a comprehensive health education mission few universities could match, President Ripich decided to build on this area of strength in the early years of her presidency. With the support of an ambitious board of trustees, a team of accomplished senior administrators and dynamic faculty, she led the efforts to launch a College of Pharmacy, College of Dental Medicine and Online College of Graduate and Professional Studies.
As UNE’s enrollment grew from 4,000 to more than 10,000 students in response to these innovations, President Ripich oversaw targeted investments in the University’s facilities and technological infrastructure to make its campuses truly world-class learning environments.
In Portland, the University added new buildings to house the College of Pharmacy and College of Dental Medicine. In Biddeford, it opened its first dedicated research building, a modern building for academic instruction, new residential halls and an architecturally stunning building overlooking the Saco River — the George and Barbara Bush Center — that has cemented its relationship with former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and first-lady Barbara Bush.
Another gem of the Biddeford Campus, the $20 million Harold Alfond Forum opened in 2012, thanks in part to a $10 million grant from the Harold Alfond Foundation. Situated beside UNE’s distinctive blue turf field, the Forum provides UNE’s student athletes and aspiring athletic trainers with state-of-the-art facilities for competition and learning. The facilities at the UNE athletic complex will soon be expanding again to accommodate the University’s first-ever football program, which is scheduled to launch in Fall 2017.
The most ambitious innovation to UNE yet under President Ripich, though, came to fruition in January 2014 when the University opened a new study abroad campus in Tangier, Morocco. UNE Morocco makes UNE the only U.S. institution of higher education to own a study abroad campus specifically designed for the needs of health sciences students. It features world-class labs and classrooms that allow students in the sciences and other majors to stay on track with their academic programs while experiencing the cultural crossroads of Tangier.
The University of New England is still growing. In 2015, it acquired an Atlantic island to serve as a field station to its budding marine scientists. That same year, UNE acquired an armory abutting its Portland Campus to create an additional 65,000 square feet of learning space.
The result of all of this change under President Ripich has been the emergence of a growing national reputation for UNE. The University’s prestige is exemplified by its inclusion in the Princeton Review’s 2016 edition of The Best 380 Colleges and by Brookings Institution ranking UNE first in Maine in improving students’ career earnings. UNE also has a more secure financial profile today than at any previous time. And most importantly of all, the UNE that President Ripich has ushered into existence is replete with students who are thriving, both on campus and off, as they apply the knowledge they have gained on UNE’s campuses to learning experiences in Maine and around the globe.
Since joining UNE, President Ripich’s reputation has also grown. Media outlets in Maine and from points far beyond have lauded her vision and leadership. In 2016, Mainebiz named her the Maine Business Leader of the Year in the non-profit category. In 2015, she told the story of UNE’s transformation to a national audience of Lifetime TV viewers, appearing on The Balancing Act. Additionally, Maine Ahead magazine called her “the powerhouse behind Maine’s largest private university,” and Mainebiz named her a 2011 “Woman to Watch.”
Prior to UNE
Before assuming the UNE helm, Danielle N. Ripich served as dean of the College of Health Professions at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and as a professor in the MUSC College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology. She holds a Ph.D. in speech pathology from Kent State University, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech pathology from Cleveland State University. She is internationally recognized for her language research, particularly in the areas of child language and Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. She was named a Congressional Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions and a Fellow of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association. She has published extensively in her field, editing books, writing book chapters, placing articles in peer-reviewed journals, and serving as editorial consultant to numerous medical and language journals.