The University of New Hampshire names 21st President

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Elizabeth Chilton is an experienced leader and accomplished academic who brings a strong commitment to access and student success in public higher education.
Elizabeth Chilton portrait

Elizabeth S. Chilton, an experienced leader, accomplished academic and champion of public higher education, has been appointed the 21st President of the University of New Hampshire.

“Dr. Chilton has shown tremendous leadership and strategic vision across the academic and research enterprise, and her career is a testament to the mission of public higher education,” said Jamie Burnett, the vice-chair of the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees and chair of the presidential search committee. “She cares deeply about the student experience and is committed to advancing student success at UNH. She has a record of collaboration, lifting up her peers, building partnerships and creating opportunities. The UNH community and the state should have a high degree of confidence in Elizabeth’s appointment.”

Chilton is currently chancellor of Washington State University’s Pullman campus, the system’s flagship and the state’s land grant campus, serving about 18,000 students. Chilton was appointed the inaugural chancellor of the Pullman campus in 2022. She joined WSU in 2020 as provost and executive vice president of the WSU System, serving as a chief academic officer and overseeing research functions across the six-campus system. Chilton continued in that role while also serving as Pullman’s chancellor for the last two years.

“Elizabeth is a proven and versatile leader devoted to the mission and values of public land grant universities,” said USNH Board Chair Alex Walker. “She brings the experience, track record and capabilities to lead a multi-campus institution that is part of a larger, well-coordinated public higher education system. She distinguished herself among a very strong pool of candidates as the right person to lead the University of New Hampshire in these dynamic and challenging times in higher education. The Board of Trustees is pleased to welcome Elizabeth to UNH, and we are excited for this next chapter at our system’s flagship.”

As UNH’s president, Chilton will oversee the Granite State’s flagship public research university, with approximately 16,000 students, 18 Division I athletic teams and an annual operating budget of $750 million, including over $200 million in competitive external research funding.  Her appointment concludes a national search launched last fall after James W. Dean, Jr. announced his intention to retire after six years of leading UNH. A 16-member search committee, comprised of representatives of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and students across UNH’s three campuses, led the search. The USNH Board of Trustees approved Chilton’s appointment, which begins July 1, 2024.

“UNH is a leading public university with strong student outcomes, a large and diverse research portfolio, and dedication to the State of New Hampshire, and I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity to serve as president of this incredible institution,” Chilton said. “I’ve long admired UNH’s history, vibrant and engaged community, and commitment to student success and scholarship. I look forward to returning to the Northeast to join the Wildcat family and help UNH serve our students and society in pursuit of a prosperous future.”

From 2017 to 2020, Chilton was dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York system. Prior to that she spent 16 years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, serving in a variety of roles including professor, anthropology department chair, and associate vice chancellor for research and engagement.

A first-generation college student and a graduate of public universities, Chilton is a champion for public higher education, deeply committed to access and liberal arts education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the University at Albany, SUNY, and then her Master’s and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her academic work focuses on the pre-colonial archaeology of Northeast North America, as well as paleoecology, cultural resource management, heritage studies and materials science. She is the author of dozens of peer-reviewed book chapters and journal articles.

Chilton is an avid hiker, kayaker and canoeist, as well as an enthusiastic choral singer. Her husband, Michael Sugerman, is also an anthropology professor. The couple has an adult son and three lively dogs.

The University of New Hampshire inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. Nearly 16,000 students from 50 states and 87 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. A Carnegie Classification R1 institution, UNH partners with NASA, NOAA, NSF, and NIH, and received over $210 million in competitive external funding in FY23 to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.