LIU names Cline as first woman president

Left, the admissions building at LIU-Post, one of Left, the admissions building at LIU-Post, one of six campuses in the Long Island University system, which named Kimberly Cline, right, its first female president. (Feb. 7, 2013, March 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Karen Wiles Stabile, Handout

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Long Island University named a new president -- the first woman to lead the private, six-campus institution.

Kimberly R. Cline, 54, president of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry and a former SUNY vice chancellor, will succeed David J. Steinberg, who is retiring this summer after 27 years as LIU's chief.

Cline, a graduate of Hofstra University's law, business and education schools and of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, will take the helm in July as LIU's 10th president.

She will oversee the university's six campuses, including LIU Post in Brookville and LIU Brooklyn. The others are in Riverhead, Brentwood and in Westchester and Rockland counties.

Cline, in an interview Thursday, said she hopes "to build synergies between the university's urban and suburban campuses" and partnerships with industry and research institutions.

"LIU is uniquely positioned to be a leader in the New York area and gain national prominence," she said, adding she will focus on building its academic reputation and endowment, and reducing expenses.

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She said she will introduce strategies to enroll and retain students and to foster relationships between the administration and faculty.

Cline was appointed president of Mercy College in 2008. During her tenure, Mercy more than tripled its endowment, from $20 million to more than $70 million, Cline said. The college earned its first A credit rating from Standard & Poor's and made the most significant investments in academics in its history.

In noting that colleges and universities can be "transformed by large gifts," Cline said, "I think that over the next five years we'll have some transformational gifts at LIU."

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Cline served as vice chancellor and chief financial officer of the State University of New York between 2005 and 2008. During that time, she oversaw SUNY's $10 billion budget, which supports 64 campuses throughout the state.

Before joining SUNY, Cline served as vice president for finance and administration at Seton Hall University and as university attorney, assistant treasurer and assistant vice president for business affairs at Hofstra University. She also served as a faculty member, teaching business law at Hofstra's School of Business.

"She has a stunning 25-year career in higher education. She knows how to pull stakeholders together with a passion and common focus," said Edward Travaglianti, 64, a banking executive from Lloyd Harbor who chairs the LIU board of trustees.

LIU hired Cline after a six-month, nationwide search with assistance from the academic search firm Witt/Kieffer, university officials said. Cline was one of three finalists. Cline and her husband, LIU Post alumnus Peter Fishbein, and their three children live in Garden City.

Steinberg, 75, said he is pleased with Cline's selection.

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"There are a lot of issues that are before every university," he said. "This is a new century, and it requires a new president."

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