Dr. Irma Becerra took office as the seventh president of Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, on July 1, 2018.
Most recently the provost and chief academic officer at St. Thomas University, Dr. Becerra is known for expanding educational access for students and keenly targeting programming to meet societal needs and changing demographics. Her academic career, both as student and professional, has blended mathematics, engineering and systems thinking and processes in her studies, teaching and administrative leadership. Prior to St. Thomas, she served at Florida International University (FIU) for almost three decades, including as a tenured professor in Management Information Systems and later as Entrepreneurship Center director, vice-provost and vice-president.
A Cuban-born American, Dr. Becerra immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was an infant, living in Puerto Rico through high school. Those formative experiences ignited her mind, imbuing her with a passion for knowledge along with a deep-seated belief that ”no one can take away your education.” She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Miami and went on to become the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from FIU.
She founded FIU’s Knowledge Management Lab and led major projects as principal investigator at the National Science Foundation, NASA (Headquarters, Kennedy, Ames, and Goddard Space Flight Centers) and the Air Force Research Lab. She was also a Sloan Scholar at MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research.
Dr. Becerra has authored four books and numerous refereed journal articles in the areas of knowledge management and business intelligence. Her original research has also spanned such areas as enterprise systems, disaster management and IT entrepreneurship, making her a sought-after speaker and presenter both in the U.S. and internationally.
An educator who began her career in the private sector and the holder of four patents and copyrights, Dr. Becerra is an ardent advocate for a STEM-educated workforce. She brings to Marymount the mindset of a trained scientist and seasoned entrepreneur. She transformed the organizational structure at St. Thomas, reinvigorated its institutional commitment to scholarships and worked with teams of colleagues to attract top students through innovative, market-based programs.
Catholic educated throughout her primary and secondary years, Marymount’s new president understands the great import of faith-based instruction. It’s an issue she took on with both her head and heart at St. Thomas, pledging to families that programs would actively assist students to graduate in four years. She expects similar innovative partnerships, scholarship opportunities and broad initiatives can foster successful degree completion, raise Marymount’s profile and spur growth in enrollment and academic programs.
Dr. Becerra is mother of two adult children. Her son Anthony is currently earning his J.D. and MBA at St. Thomas University, having earned his undergraduate degree from Emory University. Her daughter Nicole is a Boston College alumna and current director at Macy’s Corporation.