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Biography: Dr. Suzanne Rivera

Dr. Suzanne M. Rivera became Macalester College’s 17th president on June 1, 2020. Having worked in higher education for 25 years, Dr. Rivera is an accomplished leader, instructor, researcher, and scholar. She is an advocate for social justice and brings a strong commitment to inclusion and equity to her role as president.

Prior to her appointment at Macalester, Rivera was the Vice President for Research and Technology Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She also served on the faculty in the Departments of Bioethics and Pediatrics at CWRU, leading original research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the federal Office of Research Integrity, and The Cleveland Foundation.

Rivera previously served as Vice President for Research Administration at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas, Texas, where she also was a faculty member in the Department of Clinical Sciences, and at the University of California-Irvine campus as an instructor and administrator.

A national expert in research ethics, Dr. Rivera frequently is invited to speak about a variety of topics related to biomedical research and science policy.  She has published numerous articles, essays, and book chapters that explore the moral dimensions of informed consent, use of human specimens, and protection of research subject privacy.  She co-edited the book Specimen Science, published by MIT Press in 2017. 

She has held numerous leadership roles in a variety of professional societies and governmental advisory bodies. She currently is the Chair of the Board of Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research (PRIM&R) and serves as an elected member-at-large of the Section on Social, Economic & Political Sciences of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Rivera also is an appointed member of the Executive Committee of the MN Governor’s Young Women’s Initiative and of the City of St. Paul’s Community First Public Safety Commission, and a member of the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Board of Trustees. Previously, she served on the Boards of the Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) and the National Council of University Research Administrators (NCURA). Rivera also served as an appointed member of the US DHHS Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Human Research Protections and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Human Studies Review Board.

Dr. Rivera earned her BA in American Civilization from Brown University, a Master of Social Work Degree from the University of California-Berkeley, and a doctorate in Public Affairs with an emphasis on health policy from the University of Texas at Dallas.

She and her husband, American Literature scholar Dr. Michael Householder, have two adult children, Antonio and Elena.