Episode # 10

Trailblazing in Higher Education

As the first womxn and first Latinx president in Macalester’s history, Dr. Suzanne Rivera knows that academic excellence and inclusion go hand-in-hand; you don’t need a well-tread path to get where you want to go. In this expansive interview, Dr. Rivera talks about her own experiences, how they have informed her leadership, and what higher education institutions can do to authentically promote inclusivity—for the benefit of all. Life After Now is brought to you by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.


Topics covered in this episode include:

  • Navigating a non-traditional path to leadership
  • The importance of diversity and inclusion initiatives within academic environments
  • Feeling comfortable having difficult conversations
  • The importance of bringing your “whole self” to work
  • Updating old structures to create more inclusive environments

Dr. Suzanne Rivera

Episode Transcript


Dr. Suzanne M. Rivera became Macalester College’s 17th president on June 1, 2020. Having worked in higher education for 25 years, Dr. Rivera is an accomplished leader, instructor, researcher, and scholar. She is an advocate for social justice and brings a strong commitment to inclusion and equity to her role as president.

Prior to her appointment at Macalester, Rivera was the Vice President for Research and Technology Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She also served on the faculty in the Departments of Bioethics and Pediatrics at CWRU. 

Dr. Rivera earned her BA in American Civilization from Brown University, a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of California-Berkeley, and a doctorate in Public Affairs with an emphasis on health policy from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Share This Episode

The content of this site is published and managed by

© Copyright 2021 Minnesota Office of Higher Education