UMBrella Speaker Series

The UMBrella Speaker Series shines a spotlight on notable women from a wide variety of areas of expertise. 


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On Dec. 6, 2022, in the first in-person UMBrella Speaker Series event since 2019, university presidents Valerie Sheares Ashby, PhD, of UMBC and Carolyn Ringer Lepre, PhD, MS, of Salisbury talked about the first few months in their new roles and topics such as leadership, mentoring, and innovation.

Dr. Carolyn Ringer Lepre's Biography

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Carolyn Ringer Lepre, PhD, MS
President, Salisbury University

Carolyn “Lyn” Ringer Lepre, PhD, MS, became Salisbury University’s 10th president on July 15, 2022. She came to the Delmarva Peninsula from Radford University in Virginia, where she formerly served as interim president.

Lepre began her academic career as a faculty member at California State University, Chico; the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. During her tenure at Marist, she served as chair of the Department of Communication and director of the college’s Honors Program. In 2013, she was named assistant dean of Marist’s School of Communication and the Arts, advancing to interim dean in 2014 and then dean in 2016.

She joined Radford as provost and vice president for academic affairs in 2020. In that position, she collaborated with the academic leadership team and the student-centered faculty and staff to advance critical initiatives designed to foster the delivery of high-quality academic programs and experiences, and support the university’s strategic plan.

These endeavors included launching the Academic Success Center; launching a distinctive new general education curriculum, which empowers students to be in control of their coursework from day one and provides an individualized path to degree completion; establishing a standalone School of Nursing; establishing a partnership with the Appalachian School of Law that created dual-degree programs; and developing three online fast-track degree programs (RN-to-BSN, MBA, and MSN).

In addition to her academic work, Lepre has extensive professional experience in the communication industry, having worked for various national publications and media outlets. Her research has focused on media representation of gender and diversity, and health communication and mass communication education. She has published more than 40 book chapters, and refereed journal and conference articles. She also is the co-author of “U.S. Media and Diversity” (Wiley-Blackwell), now in its second edition, with a third edition in progress.

Lepre earned her BA in English and journalism at Miami University (Ohio), her MS in journalism from Ohio University, and her PhD in mass communication from the University of Florida.

Dr. Valerie Sheares Ashby's Biography

Valerie Sheares Ashby thumbnailValerie Sheares Ashby, PhD
President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Valerie Sheares Ashby, PhD, was appointed to the presidency of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) on Aug. 1, 2022, and is the first woman to serve in this role.

Sheares Ashby previously served as dean of Duke University’s Trinity College of Arts & Sciences. In this role from 2015 to 2022, she led a 700-person faculty spanning nearly 40 departments and programs in rethinking what it means to deliver a world-class liberal arts education while navigating a pandemic and consistently promoting diversity and inclusion as a means of achieving excellence in both teaching and research.

Sheares Ashby came to Duke from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), where she served on the faculty since 2003 and chaired the chemistry department from 2012 to 2015. In her role as department chair, she was instrumental in UNC’s collaboration with UMBC to launch the Chancellor’s Science Scholars Program, among the earliest Meyerhoff Scholars replication pilots at an R1 institution. She began her academic career at Iowa State University as an assistant professor in 1996 and was promoted to associate professor in 2002. While at Iowa State, Sheares Ashby was a mentor for the Iowa State University Program for Women in Science & Engineering, a summer research program for undergraduate and high school students.

As a researcher, Sheares Ashby has focused on synthetic polymer chemistry with an emphasis on designing and synthesizing materials for biomedical applications such as X-ray contrast agents and drug delivery materials. She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Development Award, DuPont Young Faculty Award, and 3M Young Faculty Award, as well as numerous teaching awards.

She received her BA and PhD degrees in chemistry from UNC and completed postdoctoral research at Universitat Mainz in Germany as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and NATO Postdoctoral Fellow.

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