Salem State University invites inquiries, nominations, and applications for the position of vice president for diversity and inclusion, the university’s chief diversity officer.

Located just 15 miles north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts, and enrolling 8,500 students, Salem State has enjoyed a remarkable trajectory from its origins as a normal school focused exclusively on teacher preparation to a comprehensive public university with an array of undergraduate and graduate programs. The university provides a diverse community of learners a high-quality, student-centered education that prepares them to be leaders within their chosen professions and to contribute responsibly and creatively to a global society. Salem State serves as an important partner in the economic, cultural, and intellectual vitality of the state’s North Shore region.

Recognized as having the most diverse student body of the nine state universities, Salem State is deeply committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and belonging while achieving greater diversity among its faculty, staff, and students. The vice president for diversity and inclusion will build on efforts already underway to catalyze transformational change and further the university’s vision of a vibrant community characterized in all it does by a central commitment to inclusive excellence. The new vice president will find support structures and a community of students, staff, and faculty of diverse backgrounds and identities that are devoted to the urgency of the task. Salem State currently enjoys energetic student groups and active employee resource groups (ERGs) that promote diversity, openness, understanding, and inclusiveness, as well as regional and national affiliations in organizations such as the National Coalition Building Institute and the Leading for Change Higher Education Diversity Consortium.

This position offers the right individual a truly unique and exciting opportunity. The ideal candidate will be a strategic leader, skilled administrator, collaborative partner, convener, and community builder who has experience advancing inclusive excellence and positive change in complex communities. This person will be adept at fostering dialogue with multiple constituencies, building coalitions, and achieving results through influence, force of intellect, and dynamism of personality. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree; a deep and intersectional understanding of the dynamics of difference, privilege, and power; and the energy, enthusiasm, drive, emotional intelligence, and gravitas necessary to achieve ambitious goals.

The Position


Reporting to President John D. Keenan, who took office as Salem State’s 14th president in August 2017, the vice president for diversity and inclusion (vice president) will elevate the important work of transforming the university into a learning community where diversity and inclusion are woven throughout the fabric of the institution, where responsibility for inclusiveness extends to everyone on campus, and where the definition of inclusion is rooted in equity and social justice. The vice president will participate fully in the senior leadership of the university and serve on the President’s Executive Council and the President’s Leadership Cabinet; conduct an inventory of existing diversity and inclusion initiatives to identify strengths, gaps, and opportunities; guide the campus community in crafting and implementing a campuswide strategic plan for inclusive excellence; serve as a resource to schools, colleges, and divisions as they develop unit-level inclusive excellence strategic plans; develop and lead the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion; expand pathways for assessing, understanding, and improving the campus climate; and serve as an ambassador for the university and its commitment to diversity and inclusion externally in Salem, throughout the North Shore region, and beyond.

The vice president will serve as an ex-officio member of the university’s advisory committee on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The vice president will collaborate closely with the Office of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity, which has responsibility for the university’s compliance efforts in the areas of equal opportunity, affirmative action, harassment and discrimination prevention, and compliance with all applicable state and federal civil rights laws. The vice president will convene a cabinet (coordinating council) of diversity, equity, and inclusion officers from across the campus to facilitate communication, collaboration, and sharing of ideas across divisions of the university; guide the implementation of inclusive excellence strategies and tactics; ensure the development and mobilization of initiatives related to each unit’s inclusive excellence strategic plan; and establish systems of accountability and assessment using data-driven metrics to measure progress toward goals.


In 2016 the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity, Affirmative Action, Equity and Social Justice (PAC-D) recommended that the university create the position of chief diversity officer. Black, Brown and Proud (BBP), a group of student activists, also advocated for the establishment of the chief diversity officer role along with a list of other changes they presented to the university leadership to make the campus more inclusive and more reflective of the diversity within the student body. While Salem State had some resources and structures for diversity, equity, and inclusion in place, there was no role at the most senior level of the institution with the responsibility for driving the institutional change necessary to realize the university’s aspirations.

Following a national search, Lisa McBride was named inaugural vice president for inclusive excellence. She served in the role from September 2016 to November 2017 and advocated for the adoption of an inclusive excellence organizational change framework. She is also credited with partnering with the Provost’s Office and Human Resources to develop a “faculty recruitment and retention toolkit” and launching an unconscious bias train-the-trainer program. She currently serves as the inaugural associate dean for diversity and inclusion and professor of medical education at Texas Christian University and the University of North Texas Health Sciences Center. School of Medicine.

Following McBride’s departure, Rebecca Comage, director of diversity and multicultural affairs and interim director of student involvement and activities, and Michael Mobley, associate professor of psychology, were named interim co-chief diversity and inclusion officers and served in those roles for a semester before Comage was subsequently appointed to the full-time position as interim chief diversity and inclusion officer. During this time, Salem State has been intentional about using best practices and data informed decision making processes to move the work forward in many ways.  Among the accomplishments realized over the past two years is the completion of a comprehensive climate study, the development of a bias incident reporting protocol, and appointment of the director of education and training for diversity and inclusion.

With assistance from Spelman Johnson, Salem State is conducting an aggressive nationwide search for this key leadership position. The successful candidate, who will hold the title of vice president for diversity and inclusion, will be expected to take office in January 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.


The vice president for diversity and inclusion will be expected to address the following opportunities and challenges:

Participate fully in the senior leadership of the university

The vice president for diversity and inclusion will report directly to the president, join the President’s Executive Council and the President’s Leadership Cabinet, contribute to the university’s strategic decisions, and earn the trust and respect of colleagues across the campus community. In collaboration with senior colleagues, the vice president will play a key role in ensuring that inclusive excellence is interwoven throughout Salem State’s policies and strategic initiatives as a core value of the university. The vice president will assist senior leaders in developing strategies and taking action to support marginalized populations and advance a sense of belonging among all students, faculty, and staff. The vice president will be expected to pose challenging questions and suggest insightful solutions on difficult topics in order to stimulate the very best thinking among Salem State’s leadership.

Develop and lead the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion

The vice president will lead the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion that will serve as an organizational hub for inclusive excellence and as a place to consolidate, support, communicate, and guide Salem State’s framework and efforts for diversity and inclusion. The vice president’s office historically has been a safe-space for students, faculty, staff, and administrators to discuss and seek support for the various “isms” they experience on campus, and it will continue to have a visible and accessible presence on campus as a resource to the university community. The office will work with trustees, senior leaders, and others involved in shared governance of the university to increase awareness and understanding of diversity and inclusion as an institutional imperative; to advance measurable and sustainable actions needed to counter systemic barriers, explicit and unconscious biases, and inequities; and to build institutional capacity to achieve inclusive excellence and support the flourishing of all members of the Salem State community.

Conduct an inventory of existing diversity and inclusion initiatives to identify strengths, gaps, and opportunities

Many departments, areas, and groups have both well-developed and new diversity and inclusion initiatives, from longstanding strong student groups such as Multicultural Students Association and Latin American Student Organization (LASO) to the new general education requirement that all students take a Diversity, Power Dynamics, and Social Justice course. These efforts have often emerged organically or in response to specific needs on the ground and as a result at times unknowingly overlay or are known only within a limited sphere. Like many large organizations, we struggle with how to scale and coordinate our initiatives in ways that ensure the fullest participation and reach, see initiatives through short- and long-term goals, and maximize the time and energy that we put into the, An inventory of existing initiatives will make the university’s significant strengths clearer, provide opportunities to combine efforts, and identify as well offer a picture of what areas, groups, and initiatives are best positioned to fill those gaps.

Expand pathways for assessing, understanding, and improving the campus climate

The vice president will generate ideas and initiatives for assessing, understanding, and improving campus climate. The vice president will review existing data and reports and conduct further studies and analyses to understand climate, make interventions throughout the institution, and identify strategies to improve campus climate. The vice president will build upon the progress of the Climate Study Working Group (CSWG) and subsequent campuswide study conducted by Rankin & Associates Consulting during the 2016-17 academic year, as well as the secondary analysis of the study. Further, the vice president will measure the impact of initiatives quantitatively and qualitatively, report these efforts across campus to develop a culture of accountability, and use this information to support informed and collaborative decision-making and determine what resources are needed to create a more equitable and inclusive community. The vice president will partner with Office of Strategic Planning and Decision Support to collect, interpret, and disseminate data related to the campus climate.

Guide the campus community in crafting and implementing a campuswide strategic plan for inclusive excellence

Salem State uses strategic plans to crystalize and share our values and to guide the allocation of resources to support and implement the initiatives that ensures those values are reflected across our practices and programs. A campuswide strategic plan will enshrine our vision of inclusive excellence and ensure that it receives sufficient material support. It will also guide the university’s schools, colleges, divisions, and departments as they develop their own unit-level strategic plans for inclusive excellence. The creation of the campuswide strategic plan will involve working with groups and individuals from across campus, ensuring that all stakeholders have a chance to participate while at the same time managing the workload involved in the undertaking.

Serve as an ambassador for the university and its commitment to diversity and inclusion externally in Salem, throughout the North Shore region, and beyond

The vice president will serve as an ambassador for Salem State, facilitating communication with internal and external stakeholders regarding the messaging of the mission, initiatives, and strategies employed by the university in relation to diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. The vice president will create mechanisms for communicating the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence. A critical part of the vice president’s role will be to enhance community engagement and be seen as a thought leader on diversity, equity, and inclusion locally in the Salem and North Shore communities, across Massachusetts, and nationally.


The vice president for diversity and inclusion will work with President Keenan to determine specific measures of success and their respective timetables. The search advisory committee offers the following general metrics for the position:

  • Good working relationships with senior leaders and stakeholders across campus;
  • Creation and sharing of a map of current diversity and inclusion initiatives;
  • Adoption and implementation of a campuswide diversity, equity, and inclusion plan;
  • Implementation of systems of accountability and assessment using data-driven metrics to measure progress towards diversity, equity, and inclusion goals:
  • Effective leadership of a cabinet (coordinating council) of diversity, equity, and inclusion officers from across the campus;
  • Greater communication and collaboration across the Salem State community in areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and
  • Effective planning and strategizing about community engagement as an integral and vital part of Salem State’s vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Salem State University seeks candidates whose education, perspectives, and experiences have prepared them to serve in a role at the most senior level of the university with responsibility for driving the institutional change needed to create an increasingly diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment. The ideal candidate will be a strategic leader, skilled administrator, collaborative partner, convener, and community builder who has experience advancing inclusive excellence and positive change in complex communities. This person will be adept at fostering dialogue with multiple constituencies, building coalitions, and achieving results through influence, force of intellect, and dynamism of personality. The successful candidate will have an advanced degree; a deep and intersectional understanding of the dynamics of difference, privilege, and power; and the energy, enthusiasm, drive, emotional intelligence, and gravitas necessary to achieve ambitious goals.

While no single candidate will likely have all the ideal qualifications, candidates should possess many of the following qualifications and characteristics:

  • A master’s degree; doctorate or terminal degree preferred.
  • At least five years of experience leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, building programs, and achieving successful outcomes in a complex institution or mission-driven organization with multiple constituencies.
  • Adept at strategy and operations, with ability to lead with vision, purposefulness, and optimism while keeping an eye to new possibilities and emerging challenges.
  • Ability to guide the development and implementation of an overarching plan for inclusive excellence, establishing metrics, measuring progress, promoting accountability, ensuring continuous improvement, and adapting the plan as necessary.
  • Fluency with the research and literature of diversity and inclusion and knowledge of best practices.
  • Proven ability to collaborate effectively with university constituencies and bring groups and individuals to common ground across lines of difference.
  • Ability to promote cultural competence across all constituencies.
  • Ability to facilitate partnerships and mobilize leaders from diverse institutional and community sectors to build and sustain a more diverse and inclusive culture.
  • Deep knowledge of the issues facing students in today’s higher education climate, including students of color, first-generation, and international students.
  • Ability to develop strong, positive, and productive relationships with student leaders who are deeply engaged in activism and social justice change efforts designed to enhance and improve the campus climate for diversity and inclusion.
  • Exceptional listening, interpersonal, and communication skills, including effective messaging to multiple diverse audiences.
  • Ability to anticipate and address challenges proactively, with systems-level thinking and working toward institutional change, rather than simply reacting to them or focusing on individual remedies to issues as they present themselves.
  • An appreciation for the culture of academic institutions, including respect for the principles and practice of shared governance and the priorities and needs of different constituencies.
  • Ability to inspire and lead teams of faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and community partners who often have competing priorities and demands.
  • Strong mediation and conflict-management skills.
  • Knowledge of the legal landscape of equal opportunity, affirmative action, and other applicable state and federal laws and legislation concerning equity in employment and education.
  • Ability to develop and manage budgets, as well as an aptitude for fundraising to advance strategic initiatives.
  • Key leadership attributes, including but not limited to considerable emotional maturity, unimpeachable integrity, intelligence, exceptional judgment, creativity, diplomacy, the ability to inspire, and a durable sense of humor.

Institution & Location

Institutional Background and History

Salem State University is a four-year public university located in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem State University, established in 1854 as Salem Normal School, is located approximately 15 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. In 1932 the institution was renamed Salem Teachers College, and from 1968 to 2010 it was known as Salem State College. As of 2018, Salem State enrolled 8.338 students, from 38 states and 56 foreign countries. The university offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the arts and sciences, a master’s in business administration, and post-master’s certificates in more than 40 academic disciplines. In addition, the university also offers Continuing Education courses for credit and non-credit.

Salem State University was founded in 1854 as the Salem Normal School under the guidance of Horace Mann. The Salem Normal School is the fourth normal school to open in Massachusetts, and only the tenth to open in the United States. Initially, the school was a two-year, post-secondary educational institution reserved for women. In 1898, the school became co-educational by enrolling its first group of male students that September.

In 1896 the school relocated to its current location in South Salem (to the building known today as the Sullivan Building). A few years later the Horace Mann Laboratory School was opened. With the construction of a more formal campus, the school was able to lengthen its curriculum to a 4-year study program in 1921. The first bachelor’s degree program was in commercial education. In 1932, the school was renamed Salem Teachers College.

In 1960, the school was renamed State Teachers College at Salem, and shortly thereafter in 1968 the school was renamed to Salem State College. Under the leadership of President Frederick Meier, the physical campus developed quite rapidly during the 1960s, with the construction of new academic buildings, the institution’s first residence halls, and a student union. Throughout the 1970s, the school continued to expand its physical campus by constructing a new library, the O’Keefe Athletic Center, and by purchasing the land for what is today known as South Campus.

In the mid-1990s, the college moved forward with purchasing a 37.5-acre industrial site on Loring Avenue. The site was formerly home to a lightbulb plant owned by the General Telephone & Electronics Corporation, formerly Sylvania Electric Products. When GTE decided to exit the electrical equipment market, they sold off their former factory to Salem State. That site, is today known as Central Campus. It houses the Bertolon School of Business and three residence complexes: Viking Hall, Marsh Hall, and Atlantic Hall.

On July 26, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law a bill that changed the name of institution to Salem State University. The name change became official on October 26, 2010.

About Salem, Massachusetts

Salem is a historic coastal city in Essex County, Massachusetts, located in the North Shore region. It is a New England bedrock of history and is considered one of the most significant seaports in Puritan American history.

The city is home to the House of Seven Gables, Salem State University, the headquarters of The Satanic Temple, Salem Willows, Pioneer Village, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and the Peabody Essex Museum. It also features historic residential neighborhoods in the Federal Street District and the Charter Street Historic District. Salem is a residential and tourist area which includes the neighborhoods of Salem Neck, Downtown Salem District, the Point, South Salem, North Salem, Blubber Hollow, Witchcraft Heights, and the McIntire Historic District, named after Salem’s famous architect Samuel McIntire.

Much of the city’s cultural identity reflects its role as the location of the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692, as featured in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. Police cars are adorned with witch logos, a public elementary school is known as Witchcraft Heights, and the Salem High School athletic teams are named the Witches; Gallows Hill was originally believed to be the site of numerous public hangings, and it is currently used as a playing field for various sports.

In 2012, the Retailers Association of Massachusetts chose Salem for their inaugural “Best Shopping District” award. On January 10, 2013, President Obama signed executive order HR1339 designating Salem as the birthplace of the U.S. National Guard. The city’s population was 41,340 at the 2010 census.

Mission and Vision


Salem State’s mission is to provide a high quality, student-centered education that prepares a diverse community of learners to contribute responsibly and creatively to a global society, and serve as a resource to advance the region’s cultural, social and economic development.


Salem State University will be a premier teaching university that engages students in an inspiring transformational educational experience.

  • We put students first in all that we do and are committed to their success.
  • We are a community of learners where all faculty, staff and students have the opportunity to grow as individuals.
  • We are innovators, offering a unique brand of public higher education that inspires students to reach higher and achieve more.
  • We remain true to our heritage as a liberal arts university while we prepare students for today’s workforce.
  • We serve the communities of the North Shore while we create an ever more globally aware and culturally diverse campus environment

Strategic Plan

The 2018-21 Salem State University strategic plan is the result of a transparent and inclusive campus-wide planning process led by the institution’s collaboration committee. The university takes pride in its gains towards the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) system goals of college participation, college completion and closing achievement gaps. Of equal importance in accomplishing these goals has been a commitment to authentic teamwork, an openness to sincere dialogue, and the discernment and engagement required to undertake systemic change.

The 2018-21 strategic plan builds on these important gains, learns from both successes and challenges, is tempered by internal and external realities, and confidently presents bold yet feasible strategic priorities that align our institution’s strengths and the North Shore’s along with the Commonwealth’s educational, economic and workforce needs.

Salem State’s 2018-21 Four Strategic Goals

Financial Vitality

Strengthen Salem State’s financial foundation, align resources with priorities and foster innovation to drive new revenue streams. Identify and implement additional opportunities to contain, reduce or avoid future growth in costs.

Collaboration, Inclusion and Stewardship

Foster a university-wide culture of inclusion, accountability, collaboration, and stewardship.

Academic Excellence

Develop and support high-quality academic programs and innovative educational experiences that equip Salem State graduates to thrive in an evolving workforce and to navigate confidently in an increasingly complex and global society.

Student Success

Create a challenging and supportive learning environment that fully engages students in their learning and promotes attainment of academic, personal and career goals.


John D. Keenan, JD – President

John D. Keenan is the 14th president of Salem State University, a role he began on August 6, 2017.

Prior to being named president, Keenan served as general counsel and vice president for administration at Salem State University. He was responsible for the university’s day-to-day operations in support of its academic mission, overseeing human resources and equal opportunity, capital planning and facilities, information technology, risk and asset management, and university police.

Keenan previously represented the Seventh Essex District in the Massachusetts State Legislature from 2005 to 2014. He was a leading proponent of gaining university status for Salem State in 2010, the lead sponsor of a bill providing benefits equity for all state university faculty, and an advocate for increased funding for state universities. He also moved a number of significant public projects forward, including the building of the J. Michael Ruane Judicial Center, the Salem MBTA Station, and the Thaddeus Buczko Probate Court. He was the leading proponent of the $1 billion Footprint Power redevelopment of Salem Harbor Station, the largest project in Salem’s almost 400-year history. At Salem State, he utilized this expertise to help fund and recently complete the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

In addition to his strong commitment to public higher education, Keenan’s time in the state legislature allowed him to be lead on issues of social justice. He voted to preserve marriage equality, address schoolyard bullying, and protect transgendered employees in the work place. While the bill ultimately did not pass, one of his proudest votes was in support of the DREAM Act, to provide in-state tuition for undocumented students.

Before serving as a legislator, Keenan was an assistant district attorney in Essex County and a member of that office’s first ever Domestic Violence Unit. This experience positioned him to help lead Salem State’s Title IX team, focusing on both the prevention and investigation of sexual assaults on campus. As a result of his efforts, Salem State hosted the National Center for Campus Public Safety’s Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Investigation and Adjudication Institute on campus in January of 2017. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey spoke at the institute to bring attention to this national problem. Keenan also served in the administrations of Mayor Neil Harrington and Mayor Stanley Usovicz as Salem city solicitor.

A lifelong Salem resident, Keenan is a proud product of Salem Public Schools. Like 35 percent of Salem State students, he is in the first generation of his family to attend college. Mr. Keenan received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and his JD from Suffolk University.

Keenan’s leadership of the North Shore’s only public, four-year institution of higher learning comes after more than 300 years of family history in Salem. He is a direct descendent of Rebecca Nurse, who was executed in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. This tragedy shapes his commitment to social justice and human rights. He serves on the board of the Salem Award Foundation for Human Rights & Social Justice and on the North Shore Advisory Board of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Keenan resides in Salem with his wife, Kara McLaughlin, and their two children, Aidan and Erin. An avid bike rider, he is a 26-year participant of the Pan Mass Challenge, raising over $160,000 for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

President Keenan’s Inaugural Address

On January 18, 2018, Salem State’s 14th president, John D. Keenan, delivered his inaugural address. Here is an excerpt from that speech:

The only greater honor than being on this stage is working with you to be part of the solution. At Salem State, we not only advance equality by providing an excellent education, but we teach the values that lead to progress. We teach students to think critically and to question the status quo. We foster an environment that encourages activism.

Indeed, it is a unique time to be in America as a student and a university president. Our country is experiencing a time of change, disruption, and division that has not been seen for decades. In protests and demonstrations that harken back to the sixties, students are challenging campus administrators every day—taking a stand, voicing their opinions, speaking out against racism and sexual assault and for free speech and inclusion.

Divisiveness threatens to, and sometimes succeeds in, tearing apart campuses. We think back to the anti-Semitic chants shouted at Charlottesville, the punches thrown at Middlebury, and to the vandalism that occurred on our very own campus last semester and this week. Although these heinous crimes succeed in putting the worst of society on display, they also open a discussion to begin to heal and tackle racism on campuses across this nation.

While the conversation at Salem State will never be over, I can say we are making progress. We will have this conversation and take action for as long as we must to ensure every student and member of the faculty and staff feels safe and welcome on our campus. We need to ensure that every student at our university, regardless of race, sexual orientation, gender, abilities, beliefs, and socioeconomic status feels at home at Salem State.

We often and rightly boast about being the most diverse of the state universities. It is important to be proud of this distinction and strive towards remaining so, however, we must be as inclusive as we are diverse.


Salem State University is governed by an 11-person Board of Trustees. Nine trustees are appointed by the governor for five-year terms, renewable once; one alumni trustee is elected by the alumni association for a five-year term, renewable once; and a student trustee is elected by the student body for one year, renewable. Regular meetings of the board are held four times annually, and as needed.

In accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth and regulations enacted by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, the composition, duties and powers of the Salem State University Board of Trustees are articulated within the university’s bylaws. The board is charged with the fiduciary management of the institution, including determination of fees, establishment of personnel management policy, staff services, and the general business of the institution. Among its responsibilities, the board appoints the president, subject to the approval of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education; annually evaluates the president’s performance and submits its review to the Board of Higher Education; adopts an annual plan of financial operation; awards degrees in approved fields; and develops the mission statement for the university consistent with the mission of the Commonwealth’s system of public higher education and statewide, system goals established by the Board of Higher Education.

Salem State University operates under the principles of shared governance and is governed internally by a series of committees that represent the three campus constituencies: students, faculty and the university administration. Each committee focuses on a different aspect of the institution, recommending policy, advising the administration of community needs or concerns, and voting on committee business. Committees fall into two categories:

  • University contract committees are required by contractual agreements for each state university. At Salem State they include academic policies, curriculum, library/media development, student affairs, and all-university, which acts as the primary agent for coordination and implementation of all contract committees, except for graduate education council, and makes recommendations to the president.
  • Non-contract committees, which include both five committees required by law and 26 university advisory committees, are formed by the university president with representatives appointed by the faculty, administration, and student government association.

Academic Programs

Salem State’s academic structure is comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Education, the Bertolon School of Business, the School of Graduate Studies, and the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Salem State’s top undergraduate majors include: business administration, nursing, education, criminal justice, biology, psychology, communications, sport and movement science, English, social work and history. The university’s liberal arts model prepares students to think critically, communicate effectively and ready themselves to fulfill the demands of tomorrow’s changing work force. They are assisted in this endeavor by a highly credentialed faculty.

Salem State’s School of Graduate Studies (SGS) provides a graduate experience and a degree that helps students reach their goals. SGS offers degrees in 24 fields that allow students to earn master’s degrees, graduate certificates, educator licensure, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in education. The disciplines include: Master of Arts, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Science, Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Criminal Justice, Master of Education, Master of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, and a full-time program in Master of Social Work (the only program of its kind among the Massachusetts state universities). SGS graduates become leaders in their professions and communities. Students apply what they learn in the classroom and through their original research to their jobs and develop professional networks with faculty and area workplaces.

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) is home to the university’s general education curriculum, the cornerstone of the university’s commitment to offer all students an academically rewarding and intellectually diverse education. CAS is home to 20 departments, such as art + design, theatre and speech communication, English, biology, chemistry and physics, computer science, world languages and cultures, history, economics, and geological sciences, to name but a few. It is important that all students explore ideas, test concepts, learn, grow, and most of all question. The college’s goal is to offer its students the best academic preparation and degree possible.

The College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) houses four of Salem State’s service-oriented programs: the schools of nursing and social work and the departments of criminal justice and occupational therapy. Each program blends academics and field-work so students graduate with a well-balanced education that prepares them to join the work force or pursue advanced degrees, which are offered in each of the programs. Recognizing the unique interdisciplinary nature of the respective professions, CHHS seeks to promote a humanistic, caring environment, which maximizes student potential and instills sensitivity to current social problems and issues.

The Bertolon School of Business, which honors the generosity of entrepreneur and alumnus Henry Bertolon ’74 and his wife, Donna, instills in its undergraduate and graduate business majors the development of strong business skills, sound ethics and a global world view. As Salem State’s largest undergraduate major, it attracts students—and faculty with diverse specialties—from across the region and throughout the world. Students pursue a number of majors within business including accounting and finance, marketing, management, and decision sciences.

The School of Education, the university’s founding program, has nearly 20,000 graduates that are making a difference as public school teachers, early childhood professionals, counselors, higher education administrators, community educators, and nonprofit directors. Through a recently transformed curriculum, students have the opportunity to pursue the combined bachelor’s and master’s 4+1 program which is designed to send expertly prepared, experienced teachers into our public school classrooms. Promising careers in education abound in communities across the Commonwealth—from preschools, K-12 schools, universities, childcare centers, and afterschool programs to national parks, museums, group homes, health centers, and hospitals.

The School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS) is home to part-time and off-campus undergraduate programs, Salem State Online, Summer at Salem State, and the Center for International Education. SCPS works closely with community and international partners, businesses, and other institutions of higher education to provide expanded access to Salem State’s academic programs and resources. The university offers undergraduate degrees and international education programs in a wide range of disciplines, including business administration, nursing, psychology, and education.


As of fall 2017, 92 percent of Salem State’s 363 full-time faculty members held terminal degrees: 287 (86 percent) held doctorates and 24 (7 percent) creative and performing arts faculty held MFAs, while 32 (9 percent) held master’s degrees or the equivalent and, of these, six are currently enrolled in doctoral programs. The remaining 47 held terminal degrees in fine arts, healthcare, library sciences, business, and other areas. Among full-time faculty members in 2017, 77 percent identified as white, non-Hispanic and 54 percent were female.

In the past two decades, Salem State has had 20 Fulbright Scholars and four Fulbright Specialists; three of our students have also received this distinction.


For the fall of 2016, Salem State received over 6,000 applications from prospective first time undergraduate students, an increase of nearly 30 percent over the past five years. The acceptance rate was 74 percent, and the yield was 25 percent. A total of 1,145 first time freshmen enrolled, with 35 percent identifying as students of color, 65 percent women and 35 percent men. Salem State’s students come from 28 states and 63 countries.

For transfer students, 752 new students enrolled with 38 percent identifying as students of color, 59 percent women and 41 percent men.

Overall, the undergraduate enrollment is 7,346 with 38 percent identifying as students of color, 59 percent women and 41 percent men.

Just over 37 percent of Salem State’s eligible undergraduate students receive a Pell Grant. Eighty percent apply for financial aid, and 78 percent of all degree-seeking undergraduates receive some type of financial aid—grants, loans or scholarships. Approximately 35 percent are first generation college students.

At the graduate level, 358 new students enrolled in the fall of 2016 with 19 percent identifying as students of color, 76 percent women and 24 percent men.

Benefits Overview

Salem State University offers the following comprehensive and competitive benefits to employees:

  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Retirement Plans
  • Supplemental Retirement Options
  • Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Tuition Benefits