New president of Queens wants to make the university ‘a household name’

Queens University

The incoming president of Queens University of Charlotte says he’ll bring experience in working directly with students, fundraising and promoting diversity to his new job, which starts July 1.

The Queens Board of Trustees voted unanimously to make Daniel Lugo, vice president for college advancement at Colby College in Maine, the 21st president of Queens Monday morning. He will succeed Pamela Davies, who oversaw the school’s transformation from a small liberal arts college to a university offering graduate and professional degrees during her 17 years as president.

Part of his job, Lugo said, will be to make sure people know about Queens, whether they’re high school students or employers looking to hire new graduates.

“I just don’t think there’s a long-term future in being a ‘best-kept secret,’” Lugo said. “I’m not saying that Queens is (a secret) today, but there’s clearly so much opportunity and so many great reasons for Queens to be better known.”

Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Tarwater said the presidential search committee heard from 400 potential candidates and received about 100 applications before eventually choosing Lugo.

He said Lugo’s work at Colby and at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania has shown he’ll be able to attract strong and diverse applicants to Queens and raise enough money to support the university.

Lugo said he thinks “millions of students around the world” would be interested in Queens if they knew about the university, and one of his main goals is to make sure students from diverse backgrounds are able to afford it.

“I was only able to attend college because my undergraduate alma mater made it affordable for me to do that, coming from my family,” he said.

As a first-generation college student, Lugo said he’s been impressed by Queens’ commitment to economic diversity. Eighty-five percent of all undergraduates receive some kind of financial aid, according to the university, and 27 percent receive Pell Grants, a form of federal aid for low-income students.

To keep Queens competitive, Lugo said he’ll work on drawing attention to programs that already exist and making sure students and faculty are able to start new ones.

Lugo said he wants to see more cultural and professional exchange between Queens and the rest of Charlotte, whether that means students are hired for internships at local businesses or people come to campus to see plays and athletic events.

Lugo said he and his family are looking forward to enjoying Charlotte’s music, arts and sports scenes after their move.

His 14-year-old son is a big Panthers fan, and the whole family plans to spend time at Queens sporting events. Lugo described himself as a passionate fan.

“I kinda like to get into it.”

Lugo will start work with a series of listening sessions in July.

Jane Wester is a Charlotte native and has been covering criminal justice and public safety for The Charlotte Observer since May 2017.