July 08, 2015

Rivier University mourns the loss of former president, Dr. William Farrell

Dr. William Farrell, President of Rivier University from 2001-2011, passed away on July 8, 2015 at the age of 78. He was the first male and the first lay-person to serve in the chief leadership role when he joined the institution as interim President in 2001 and was appointed President in 2002.

During his decade of leadership, Dr. Farrell provided dedicated financial oversight, securing the institution’s strong position in a competitive marketplace.

“Dr. and Mrs. Farrell exemplified the Rivier spirit of community and service,” says Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, President. “Their legacy is one that has served the University well.”

Under Dr. Farrell’s leadership, Rivier launched and completed its first capital campaign, raising more than $10.5 million in gifts and contributions and significantly raising the endowment. He secured the largest gift in the institution’s history, a $2 million gift from the Conway family of Nashua to transform the academic center of the campus with the renovation and expansion of Regina Library in 2008.

During his tenure, Rivier invested in student residence and athletic facilities—renovating Guild and Trinity Halls, expanding the Muldoon Fitness Center, and installing artificial turf on the athletic field.

He guided the institution through the creation and launch of its first doctoral degree program in 2008—the Doctorate of Education in Leadership and Learning—positioning the institution for its future transition from a college to a university.

During his career, Dr. Farrell worked to advance higher education throughout the state of New Hampshire. Prior to serving as President of Rivier, he served as the President of Plymouth State College (now Plymouth State University) from 1984 to 1992 and as Chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire from 1992 to 2001. He also served the state in a voluntary capacity through his work as a trustee for Saint Anselm College and the University System of New Hampshire. He served as Commissioner of the Postsecondary Education Commission of New Hampshire and as a board member for the New Hampshire College and University Council (NHCUC).

Prior to his arrival in New Hampshire, Dr. Farrell served as Associate Vice President for Educational Development and Research at the University of Iowa and as Director of Foundation Support for Marquette University. He served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, the University of California-Berkeley, and Marquette University. A professor of English, Dr. Farrell earned his bachelor's degree and master's of business administration at Marquette, and a master's degree and a Ph.D. in English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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