For insight, guidance and motivation in approaching her new role as chief operating officer at Merrimack College, Allison Gill can turn to a familiar text: her doctoral dissertation.
The culmination of her higher education administration studies at Northeastern University was an examination of the experiences of senior female leaders in student affairs departments as they advanced through the ranks.
Among her most critical findings were that culture matters, leadership and hard work prevail and giving a voice to others is a game changer.
“I wrote to my 20-something-year-old-self how to be successful in this field,” Gill said, before adding that her 20-something-year-old-self would be pleasantly surprised by her new role.
Earlier this summer, Gill was officially named senior vice president of student affairs and success and chief operating officer, making her the highest-ranking female in the College’s leadership. In addition to her responsibilities in student affairs, Gill now oversees all facets of campus operations including dining, campus safety and facilities.
“I aspired to rise in the ranks in student affairs, but to have the role of chief operating officer and expand into all these other worlds on campus was not something I envisioned in 2009,” Gill said. “I’m incredibly grateful to my colleagues over the years and to President Hopey for their support.”
Two thousand and nine was the year Gill started at Merrimack College as the director of community standards in student affairs. For nearly 15 years, she has seen the expected and unexpected. Not one, but three emergency campus-wide evacuations; a global pandemic; the evolution of new student orientation; the launch of the first-year experience; several new residence halls; and not to mention the transformative growth of Merrimack College’s reputation and brand.
“Allison Gill has played an instrumental role in Merrimack’s successes for more than a decade,” said Merrimack College President Christopher E. Hopey, Ph.D. “Her dedication to our students and her commitment to the College’s mission are an example to all of us in the Merrimack community. I look forward to continuing to work with her to expand the College’s vision even more.”
Among her top priorities as COO is to further grow communication and collaboration across campus operations, leading to greater coordination and enhanced student experiences.
“People feel a real sense of ownership for their roles here and how they can contribute to the student experience,” she said. “For me, it is all about building the culture for students because their experience is everything. It leads to recruitment, retention and the foundation for enthusiastic alumni. We are cultivating the next generation of trustees, advisors, parent council members and people who truly care for and love this institution.”