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  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Sr. Paula Buley is the new president of Rivier College
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Sr. Paula Buley is the new president of Rivier College Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    Sr. Paula Buley is the new president of Rivier College
Thursday, August 18, 2011

Rivier’s new president brings years of experience

Michael Brindley

Wherever Sister Paula Marie Buley’s career in higher education has taken her, she’s always made sure to appreciate the wilderness and nature surrounding her.

In her more than 25 years of experience, Buley has worked in administrative positions at Catholic colleges across the country, including Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland and Immaculata University in Pennsylvania.

“I really enjoy walking, and one of the things all of that traveling around has allowed me to do is visit the local state and national parks,” she said, sitting in Molloy Hall at Rivier College this week. “Each area has a uniqueness and a distinctiveness.”

Buley now finds herself in the most senior of positions, hired earlier this year to be the new president of Rivier College in Nashua. When given the Flume Gorge in Lincoln as a must-visit state park in New Hampshire, Buley promptly jotted it down on a note pad so she wouldn’t forget it.

Though she has worked in numerous senior administrative positions, this will be Buley’s first time in the head position at a college. She is bringing an collaborative leadership style, likening her role to that of an air traffic controller, with the faculty being the pilots.

“My job is to provide direction so they can fly the plane,” she said.

Buley is replacing William Farrell, who led the college for the past decade as the first male and first lay president. He retired earlier this year.

She started Aug. 1 and has already come to appreciate the city’s vibrant downtown and surrounding community.

Buley wants to be able to look back on her first years and use measurable outcomes to gauge the college’s success. Her first few months will be spent working with the college community to come up with a strategic plan for the next three to five years.

“I’m focused on outcomes,” Buley said. “I want to choose a direction and move forward.”

Coupled with her vision for the college is an unmistakable energy and enthusiasm for the value of a quality education.

“I bring a passion simply because my life has been affected so dramatically by higher education,” Buley said.

Rivier graduates have had a significant impact on the local community, she noted, pointing to alum working in public schools, hospitals and running several businesses. Still, there is room for growth, she said. Part of that process will be moving from seeing Rivier as a hidden gem to getting the message out about the value the institution has to the community, she said.

Buley comes to Rivier from Anna Maria College, where she spent the past year working in an interim basis as the executive vice president for administration. Though her stint with the Paxton, Mass., college was brief, President Jack Calaresco said it was fruitful. Knowing she was only going to be there a year, Calaresco took on several major projects, including revamping the alumni fundraising process.

Sense of humor, enthusiasm and integrity were among the qualities Buley will bring to Rivier, he said.

“She’s an extraordinary woman and really an exceptional leader,” Calaresco said. “She has an incredible commitment to Catholic higher education and really understands what makes our schools unique.”

Buley is a member of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Immaculata, Pa. She holds a doctorate in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania, a master of liberal arts in Catholic studies from Georgetown University and a master of business administration from Villanova University. Buley was attracted to the Rivier job after reading in the leadership profile that the college was looking for someone who wanted to transform hearts and minds to serve the world.

“That was very compelling,” she said.

Not surprisingly, Buley listed affordability as the biggest challenge facing higher education. College is expensive, but Buley said the key is to look at education as an investment. The college has made strides in expanding its programming and infrastructure, which shows prospective students it is willing to invest in itself for their benefit, Buley said. She pointed to the college’s recent addition of the state’s first doctoral program in education and renovations to the library as ways it is reinvesting in its product.

“The balance between attendance and cost is always value,” she said. “Our value is in our outstanding faculty, our academic programs, and an environment that fosters learning.”

The Learning Curve appears Thursdays in The Telegraph. Michael Brindley can be reached at 594-6426 or