Rougeau Featured in Worcester Telegram & Gazette

By Danielle Dentremont ’25

News Editor

The daily newspaper of Worcester, called the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, published an article on Nov. 22 featuring President Vincent Rougeau in a conversation among presidents of neighboring Worcester colleges. Per the article’s title, “Talking to Presidents of Holy Cross, Assumption, WPI and Clark,” author Jeff Chamer explores each president’s unique perspective on leading an institution of higher education. 

 Chamer traces the presidents’ diverse backgrounds as a common thread—and impactful difference—among them. In this article, Rougeau finds himself in company with Gregory Weiner of Assumption University, “Grace” Jinliu Wang of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and David Fithian of Clark University. 

While the Holy Cross community knows Rougeau well by now, Chamer evokes memories of Rougeau’s inauguration last fall as the 33rd president of Holy Cross. Holy Cross community members will note that the excitement of this event lied particularly in its mark of a historic turn in Holy Cross’ now 179-year existence. Previously led by a long line of reverends, Rougeau was the first layperson and first African American to hold his position. 

Similarly to Rougeau, Weiner, Wang and Fithian mark turning points in their institutions’ leaderships as well. Weiner is a Jewish man who is tasked with leading Assumption, a Catholic university. In April 2023, Wang will be WPI’s first female president as well as the school’s first female of color and foreign-born president. Meanwhile, Fithian is Clark’s first alumnus and openly gay man to serve as president. In writing about these leaders from diverse backgrounds in conjunction with each other, Chamer deems these shifts in leadership as “historic hiring decisions.” 

In his focus on Rougeau, Chamer discusses Rougeau’s background as lawyer and law professor preceding his hire at Holy Cross. With experience as a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School and as dean of Boston College Law School, Rougeau told Chamer that a position as the president of Holy Cross would be a “good fit” considering his background in Catholic higher education institutions. 

Considering that these Worcester college presidents all assumed—or will assume—their positions amidst a pandemic or during the post-pandemic world, Chamer highlights Rougeau’s perspective on how a pandemic world has changed higher education. As Rougeau told the Telegram, “One of the things that it’s taught all of us, I think, is that we have to be open and flexible to recognizing what those changes have meant for the people who have been impacted by them.”

Just over a year into his role as president of the College, Rougeau shared with Chamer a sentiment that likely resonates well with the colleagues featured alongside him in the Telegram article: “Being the first Black president … is very momentous for me … it means for me personally, that the sacrifices of generations that preceded me are being realized.”

Photo by Webb Chappell Photography/Boston Globe

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