President Joel N. Lohr Announces Plan to Step Down

May 13, 2024
Joel N. Lohr Gradution 2024

Joel N. Lohr, an awarding-winning author, scholar of religion, and transformative leader in higher education, announced today that he will step down from his position as the 11th President of Hartford International University for Religion and Peace on July 30, 2025. Lohr, who began his presidency in July 2018, will have served seven years as HIU’s leader, a period marked by innovation, increased philanthropy, institutional stability, and a focus on academically rigorous, interreligious peace studies.

“From the minute I set foot on campus I knew I was standing on sacred ground,” President Lohr said. “This institution is a place of incredible firsts, one like no other in the world. I didn’t come to Hartford to create something new. I came because I was interested in its unique focus on ‘Exploring Differences, Deepening Faith.’ Despite advances and changes – whether in name, degrees, new centers, or programing – I have remained committed to that vision. I have always thought my job is to reflect back to the community what it already did so well and build upon that. And build upon it we have.”

Within months of beginning his tenure, Lohr led the institution through a collaborative and ambitious strategic plan that brought about redesigned degrees, refined areas of institutional focus, and eventually a new institutional name. The process also led to the strengthening of the University’s centers, including the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, and the Center for Transformative Spirituality, and brought the creation of a new one: The Howard Thurman Center for Justice and Transformational Ministry. Fundraising by Lohr and his team led to numerous grants and gifts to support the Thurman Center’s Black Ministries Program and overall work. The increased fundraising also led to the purchase and renovation of a beautiful building, named in honor of esteemed HIU alum Rev. Ambassador Andrew J. Young 55, in which to house the Thurman Center.

Fundraising for research, scholarships, lecture series, and capital projects have been a hallmark of Lohr’s presidency. With his team and centers’ faculty, Lohr raised $3 million for research, scholarships, and capital projects in 2023 and over $13 million since he arrived. Hartford International University’s endowment has grown from $47 million when Lohr arrived in 2018 to $57 million today. Further, the institution was the recipient of two perpetual trusts that added millions to its external holdings early in Lohr’s tenure, now worth over $11 million. Collectively, these represent nearly $70 million in endowed resources for the University’s work today.

Under President Lohr’s leadership the institution also hired some of the nation’s leading religion faculty and made important structural changes to leadership and systems that have brought dynamism and key efficiencies. As part of Lohr’s work, this spring the University also completed its decennial reaccreditation process, fully accrediting the University for another ten years by the New England Commission of Higher Education and the Association of Theological Schools. “This 190-year-old institution is now ready for another 190,” Lohr said, “and I am immensely proud of what we have together accomplished, and what HIU will accomplish in the future.”

A search for the 12th President of Harford International University will begin immediately.

“The Board of Trustees was saddened to learn of President Lohr’s announcement, and now begins one its most important responsibilities, the hiring of a new leader to be the next President of Hartford International, one who will continue to blaze paths into our promising future,” said Clare Feldman, chair of the board. “We always knew HIU was blessed to have President Lohr’s innovative and groundbreaking leadership. That he will have served HIU for seven dedicated years is a gift, one for which we are all deeply grateful as a board and institution. Though saddened, we respect his decision and we are grateful that he will continue to provide strong leadership through this transition, enabling us to move from strength to strength.”

Naseem Sheikh, First Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, a retired Vice President and CFO for United Technologies and vibrant leader in our local Muslim community, will chair the search committee, which will be comprised of alumni, faculty, staff, students, and trustees. The committee will work in close collaboration with a leading executive recruitment firm.

HIU community members are encouraged to participate in the search process and to share their thoughts on the ideal profile of HIU’s next president. Email messages may be sent to: presidentsoffice@hartfordinternational.edu. 


Join our mailing list

Keep up with all the latest happenings at Hartford International.