Dr. Mary Dwyer, a former college professor and administrator who led the renowned Institute for the International Education of Students through a period of extraordinary growth, has been appointed interim president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, effective January 1. She succeeds Barbara Robertson, who recently announced her retirement following 22 years of service to the organization. A search for a long-term successor to Ms. Robertson will commence immediately.
“I am honored to lead an organization with such a rich legacy of serving students and families in the surrounding community,” said Dr. Dwyer. “I greatly appreciate Barbara Robertson’s many years of service to the Scholarship Foundation, and admire all she has accomplished to position the Foundation for continued growth. I look forward to building on the Foundation’s 60 years of impressive efforts to broaden educational access in Santa Barbara County.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English and social sciences at Mundelein College, Dr. Dwyer earned both a master’s degree in education and a doctorate in public policy analysis at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She went on to serve as a faculty member and executive associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As a professor at the campus’ College of Medicine, she taught leadership and organizational change to academic physicians from around the globe. Over the course of her career, she worked as a consultant, teacher, and CEO with an array of U.S. and international organizations at 81 sites across 40 countries. As president and chief executive officer of the Institute for the International Education of Students, or IES Abroad, from 1996 to 2020, Dr. Dwyer increased annual revenue from $9.8 million to nearly $155 million, and expanded annual scholarship outlays from $200,000 to more than $6.5 million. Her numerous honors include an Indiana University Bicentennial Medal, an honorary doctorate in civil law from the University of the South, Sewanee, and national and international awards for diversifying higher education. She served three years on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Commission on expanding educational opportunities for U.S. college students.
Dr. Dwyer currently serves as a board director for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Direct Relief, the Thriving Initiative, and the Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation, among others. She joined the Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors in 2021, and served on the Executive, Human Resources, and Student Programs committees before taking a leave of absence to become the Foundation’s interim president and CEO. She will serve in the latter capacity until a long-term successor is hired, at which point she will rejoin the Foundation Board.
“We are extremely fortunate that Mary has stepped forward to helm the organization during this period of transition,” said Foundation Board Chair Matt Rowe. “I advocated for Mary to serve in this important role, as she is quite obviously an individual of immense talent and achievement, and professionals of her caliber are a rarity. The Scholarship Foundation will unquestionably benefit from her extensive experience in postsecondary education, which includes fundraising for college scholarships. I know from her impactful contributions to Foundation Board deliberations that Mary will proceed methodically and prudently in preparing the organization for new leadership and a new era of community betterment. We are very grateful for her service during this pivotal time.”
The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara is the nation’s largest community-based provider of college scholarships, having cumulatively awarded more than $140 million to some 60,000 county students since its founding in 1962. A nonprofit organization, the Scholarship Foundation also provides free financial aid advising services. For additional information, visit www.sbscholarship.org.