The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

The Student News Site of Fitchburg State University

The Point

President Lapidus I would give myself an A-

Outgoing President Dr. Richard Lapidus Reflects on His Tenure at FSU and His Advice to His Successor

Dr. Richard Lapidus, the 11th president of Fitchburg State University’s 129 years, will be stepping down this June after 33 years in higher education. Lapidus shared in an email with the university that his retirement, culminating after 9 years at the helm of FSU, allows him to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.

“I wanted to go out on my terms,” Lapidus explained. “I think the campus is in good shape for the next person to be well positioned financially with a strategic plan and a good direction for the future of the university.”

Lapidus came to Fitchburg State University after serving as the Dean of the College of Business Administration at California State Polytechnic University. From the start, Lapidus knew he could make a difference. He prides himself on what he states as three major themes throughout his presidency. First, to modernize and diversify the curriculum; second, to enhance the relationship with the city and the broader regions by making the University a meaningful resource to the community; and third, and perhaps his most challenging, diversity.

“This was admittedly a very monolithic campus in 2015 and we made purposeful efforts through recruiting by thinking about different high schools and community-based organizations in bigger cities in an effort to think about how we might attract people to build a community that looked more like the larger community.” Lapidus admits while he doesn’t think the school is quite there, there have been significant strides.

However, when it comes to the diversity among faculty and staff, Lapidus admits it continues to be a significant challenge. “When I came here, we were not doing international or national searches, which has now become the standard,” Lapidus adds. “But it’s very hard.”

Despite some of these challenges, Lapidus lauds his success in other areas, such as the development of a new curriculum including a first-year experience which helps students acclimate themselves and build community on campus; a criminal justice policing program, which has become a national model among police chiefs; and a significant growth in video game design.

Lapidus has also used his leadership to create a partnership with the City of Fitchburg, particularly when it comes to the development and growth of Main Street, including, in part, the establishment of the ideaLab at the Main Street Theater Block and a major renovation of the theater. “I wanted to open up an opportunity to interface with the community.” And with the support of Fitchburg Mayor Stephen DiNatale, the partnership was successful in bridging the artistic vibrancy of FSU with downtown.

So, what’s next for Dr. Lapidus? He reflects on his time at the university while offering some advice for his successor. “I was always an easy grader,” Lapidus laughs. “I would give myself an A minus. We didn’t get everything done. Everything didn’t come out exactly the way that we wanted, but I guess in terms of what I was asked to do, we moved the needle in a significant way.”

This includes new academic programs in both the undergraduate and graduate levels; modernized facilities; and a renewed 10-year accreditation by NECHE (New England Commission of Higher Education), which Lapidus shares has become a model for best practices on other campuses.

Lapidus says he has left a good foundation for his successor to come in and build upon the bright future of Fitchburg State University. “I think this campus really has come a long way in nine years. Every president has a moment in time and has, to a great extent, their abilities sort of locked in place by that period in time. What did I get and how far did we go? I had three years of COVID. I’ve got an economy that’s out of control, inflation, a change of major administration here from Republican to Democrat, as well as different views of the world. And now we’ve got two wars. These are the times. But I think we did pretty good.”

This is the first in a series of reports on the retirement of Dr. Richard Lapidus.

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About the Contributor
Tonia Magras
Tonia Magras, Editor In Chief
Tonia Magras is a transfer student at Fitchburg State University and the editor in chief for The Point. She is majoring in Film and Video with a Honors minor. Tonia is finishing her undergraduate studies and will be pursuing a masters in hopes of one day becoming a professor of film and video studies. Tonia is also principal owner of Hull Bay Productions where her and her husband/partner Gregory are finishing their second feature film, More Than Our Skin.

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