Dr. Daniel Lugo is no stranger to work.
As a boy, he shoveled snow and cut lawns for a quick buck. At 12, he obtained a working permit for minors and entered the workforce as a paperboy. As he grew older, he studied for a doctorate and became a lawyer. Currently, he is the vice president for college advancement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. On July 1, 2019, he will become the 21st president of Queens University of Charlotte.
He appeared to be rather excited. “Queens students are so fortunate, so privileged and so blessed to be here in this community,” he said at the announcement ceremony Queens held for him on January 14.
One of Queens’ biggest allures, to him, is their sense of community. He praised the university’s spirit and sense of unity, highlighting the diverse and accepting culture.
“I feel there’s a generosity of spirit that you feel when you engage with Queens people,” he said. “I feel there’s a culture of service.”
That was not the only aspect Lugo felt Queens had going for it at the moment. “Programs of excellence across the board, whether it’s study abroad, or we’re engaging with the professional community through the Vandover Career Center, [or] what we’re doing now with the arts,” he said.
Friendly and collected at the podium, Lugo cracked jokes with the audience and spoke excitedly about sports and his family, coming across as very personable. “I wish I got more sleep,” he responded to a panel question at one point, causing a ripple of laughter throughout the audience. “I need six to seven hours, I get somewhere between four and that most nights.”
Despite his laid back demeanor, he still had already noticed several elements at Queens he hoped to emphasize in his tenure here. One was leadership.
“I don’t think leaders are born,” he said. “They’re cultivated and developed.” In his opinion, leaders should focus on those around them, observing their peers and striving to work with them. “I think leaders are great listeners.”
He does not plan on merely encouraging student behavior from afar; he wants to be directly involved. “I will not be a happy leader if I am not deeply immersed in this community and getting to know our students and getting to celebrate their achievements,” he said.
He wants to be involved with the students on campus. After his announcement ceremony, he went to the dining hall during lunch and walked around, introducing himself to students seated there and asking them about life on Queens.
Lugo is not only looking to meet students, he is a fan of face-to-face interactions on all fronts. “You can’t just sit on campus, do great work, and hope people recognize it,” he said.
The proposed on-campus interaction is a sharp departure from his predecessor and current Queens president, Pamela Davies, who traveled around consistently to conduct massive fundraising and outreach efforts but was rarely seen by students around campus. Davies will be stepping down after 17 years as president to take a year’s sabbatical, before returning to teach at the McColl School of Business.
The presidential search committee initially reviewed hundreds of applicants before narrowing the field down to 40 for interviews. From there the number fell to 13, then six, then three finalists who all toured Queens. Lugo was chosen from the finalists on the same day as his announcement ceremony, January 14.
As he prepares to assume the position of 21st president, he has high hopes for his time at Queens. “21 is a lucky number and I hope to have equally great fortune in this role.”