According to the institution, the Lewis & Clark Board of Trustees chose Holmes-Sullivan as the school’s 26th president following a nationwide search of over 100 applicants who applied for the position.
“In these tumultuous times, especially in regard to student issues, I can’t think of a more level-headed and experienced leader than Robin,” current president Wim Wiewel said in a statement.
Wiewel plans to work closely with Holmes-Sullivan as she transitions into her role.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity," said Dr. Holmes-Sullivan who currently serves as Lewis & Clark’s vice president for student life and dean of students. "In our 155 year history here at Lewis & Clark, I'll be the first female and the first person of color to assume this role...I also identify as gay," she continued. "I hope to be an inspiration to young people who come from a variety of backgrounds to let them know they can dream big as well."
Prior to arriving at Lewis & Clark, Holmes-Sullivan served as vice president of student affairs in the University of California system. Before that, she spent nearly 30 years at the University of Oregon as a clinical psychologist.
As president, her vision is to “maintain momentum toward strong enrollment, fundraising, faculty resources, and staff diversity.” Additionally, she plans to foster stronger relationships with the surrounding Portland community so that the campus can give back.
Holmes-Sullivan’s appointment proves Lewis and Clark’s commitment to diversify the student body and their leadership.
"You want to have a variety of voices at the table to be able to give good information and perspectives," she said.
Holmes-Sullivan hopes to be a uniting presence as president by engaging the Lewis & Clark community in tough conversations around race, gender, and sexuality. "We want to work together, to be in community and to not be divisive,” she explained. “Also, in realizing these conversations are hard, that's normal. They're supposed to be hard. If they were easy, we would have done them a long time ago."
Holmes-Sullivan will assume the presidency in July 2022 when Wiewel retires.