Tom Ellett, PhD, joined Quinnipiac as the chief experience officer in August 2020, overseeing all student-facing functions, including enrollment management, student affairs, registrar, bursar, public safety, veterans’ affairs and career services.
Prior to joining Quinnipiac, he served as senior associate vice president for student affairs at New York University. He oversaw student-facing functions and residential life for 11,000 students spread across New York City. He led the university’s logistical response to COVID-19, a complex undertaking in a city that was initially the country’s epicenter of the coronavirus.
Ellett brings deep expertise and a student-centered mindset, focusing on improving the student experience on the NYU campus as well as across its 14 global centers. He led the creation of living-learning communities to enrich students’ intellectual and personal growth, and lived with his family throughout his time at NYU in a student residence hall. He was instrumental in creating a new Center for Student Life, which integrated student activities and the student resource center into a single cohesive unit.
Ellett has an undergraduate degree in English from Fordham University, a master’s degree in fine arts from Catholic University, and a doctorate in educational leadership, administration and policy from Fordham.
Debra Liebowitz is an innovative leader with an impactful record of creating partnerships and launching initiatives that enable university growth, promote diversity, strengthen shared governance, and immersive learning opportunities. She oversees all academic programs at Quinnipiac, the university’s nine schools, and all other academic units and centers. She is also a professor of political science at Quinnipiac.
Liebowitz most recently served as provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Caspersen School of Graduate Studies at Drew University, where she led three schools with approximately 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Liebowitz joined Drew in 2000 as an assistant professor teaching international politics and gender studies. She assumed positions of increasing responsibility, including director of the women and gender studies program, and associate dean for curriculum in the College of Liberal Arts and associate provost, before her appointment as provost in 2017. Liebowitz earned the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the Center for Civic Engagement’s Faculty Leadership Award while at Drew. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Human Rights.
She holds degrees in political science — an undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Rutgers University.
Elicia Spearman is a highly accomplished labor and employment attorney and human resources executive who has worked for several Fortune 500 companies. She was appointed the university’s general counsel and vice president for human resources in April 2020. Before joining Quinnipiac, she served as vice president and chief human resources officer at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut. In that role, Spearman led the human resources function for the company’s 17,000 employees and managed a budget of $24 million.
Previously, she held executive-level positions at Hubbell Incorporated, where she was chief employment counsel and, later, vice president for human resources. Prior to that, she practiced law as an employment lawyer for several years at Aetna before transitioning to human resources to lead the Employee Relations Center of Excellence and manage a team of human resources business partners. Prior to returning home to Connecticut, Spearman practiced law in the District of Columbia and worked for Children’s National Medical Center and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She is licensed to practice law in four states and before the U.S. Supreme Court. Spearman has earned several awards for her professional accomplishments and community service.
Spearman earned her juris doctor degree from Case Western Reserve School of Law, where she was appointed by the dean of the law school as the chief justice of the honor court, and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from Wellesley College.
Don C. Sawyer III joined Quinnipiac in 2012 as an assistant professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences. He was promoted to associate professor and tenured in 2018. He currently serves as vice president for equity and inclusion. In addition, he oversees the Department of Cultural and Global Engagement, which is responsible for global education, international student services, multicultural education, Title IX, and the Peter C. Hereld House for Jewish Life.
Sawyer develops and implements initiatives and strategies to monitor and evaluate institutional-wide progress toward our goal of inclusive excellence. He teaches courses on race, education, social research methods, and popular culture, including the university’s first course dedicated to the sociological study of hip-hop culture. He also founded the #HipHopHeals Project, a community-based recording studio for Haitian and Dominican youth living in the Dominican Republic. Sawyer is an applied sociologist and ensures most of his projects are in partnership with local communities.
With over 20 years of higher education experience, he has held positions in residence life, admissions, multicultural affairs, fraternity and sorority affairs, student activities, experiential learning, student leadership, and STEM retention.
He earned his PhD in sociology and MS in cultural foundations of education from Syracuse University, and a BA in psychology from Hartwick College.
Todd Sloan joined Quinnipiac as vice president for development and alumni affairs in October 2019. Most recently the assistant vice president for development at American University, he is widely lauded as a fundraising professional, bringing years of expertise leading development and alumni outreach at major universities across the United States.
Prior to American University, Sloan worked in executive-level development positions at The Pennsylvania State University, where in his last role he served as executive director of fundraising across multiple colleges. He previously served as senior director of development for its Smeal College of Business. He also served in senior fundraising roles at Le Moyne College and Keystone College.
Sloan earned his bachelor's degree in political science from The Pennsylvania State University.
Mark Varholak was appointed vice president for finance and chief financial officer in July 2015, after serving as associate vice president for budget and financial planning since July 2013. Prior to that he was the university's associate controller for 10 years.
Varholak earned his MBA with concentrations in finance and international business from New York University. He also has a bachelor’s degree in accounting and international business from Pennsylvania State University.
Bethany Zemba joined Quinnipiac as vice president and chief of staff in December 2018. Previously, she served as a senior associate dean, chief of staff and senior adviser to the dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Yale University. Before that, she worked at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Zemba brings a range of strategic higher education leadership and expertise to her role at Quinnipiac, where she is responsible for working closely with the senior management team to direct the formulation and execution of the university’s strategic plan; coordinate institutional research; oversee community relations; and serve as the primary liaison to the board of trustees.
Zemba earned a bachelor of science and a master of public administration from the University of Rhode Island, and a doctorate in education, with a focus on higher education administration, from Johnson and Wales University.