Armstrong first layperson to serve as president of Salve Regina University

KELLI J. ARMSTRONG is Salve Regina University’s eighth president, but she’s the first layperson to serve in that position at Salve, which was founded by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. / COURTESY SALVE REGINA UNIVERSITY

NEWPORT – Kelli J. Armstrong will be inaugurated as Salve Regina University’s eighth president on Friday.

A full day of events will match the theme for the academic year: “The Mercy Promise: A Celebration of Our Community, Collaboration and the Creative Spirit.”

The inauguration ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. under a tent on the oceanside lawn of McAuley Hall on the Salve campus. Members of the university community and invited guests will participate in a procession to the tent from the O’Hare Academic Building beginning at 2:30 p.m.

The events will begin with a Mass at 12:15 p.m. An inaugural barbecue for students will be hosted in Gerety Hall at Wakehurst and, later in the evening, Salve students are invited to join Armstrong at an inaugural ball under the tent. The university will end classes at noon on Friday.

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Armstrong took the reins of the university in July after Sister Jane Gerety retired. She becomes the first layperson to serve as president at the university, which was founded by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Salve will be celebrating Mercy Week with several events scheduled Sept. 18-26.

“I’m humbled and honored to serve at such an exceptional institution,” Armstrong said in a news release. “What sets Salve apart from other universities is that in the great tradition of a Mercy education, we help our students become their best selves and make a difference in the world. Salve students are making a difference.

“My role at Salve will be to do everything in my power to ensure that the Mercy mission prevails,” she said. “And that the most important expression of this mission is in the education that we deliver to our students.”

Armstrong graduated from Bates College in 1986 and earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Virginia and a doctorate in higher education administration from Boston College. She also earned an Executive Leadership Certificate in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018.

Before her Salve tenure, Armstrong worked at Boston College in a variety of positions, including vice president for planning and assessment, associate vice president and as founding director of the institutional research department.

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