Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Clara M. Lovett, Ph.D.

President Emerita
Northern Arizona University

Born in Trieste, Italy, Dr. Lovett received her undergraduate education at the University of Trieste and Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. She came to the United States in 1962, earning her master’s and doctoral degrees in history at the University of Texas, Austin.

As a faculty member at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, Dr. Lovett made her mark as a teacher and scholar in the field of Modern European History. Her doctoral dissertation and two monographs that followed won scholarly awards. The National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Research Foundation of the City University of New York supported her research.

During her years in the Washington, D.C. area, Dr. Lovett held national leadership roles as chief of the European Division of the Library of Congress, dean of arts and sciences at The George Washington University, and provost at George Mason University. She lectured at the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State, wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education and Change magazine, and participated in national projects for higher education reform. In 1989, she was on Washingtonian magazine’s list of most influential women in Washington; in 1992, the Virginia Federation of Business and Professional Women named her Educator of the Year; in 2005 she was honored by the American College Personnel Association for lifetime contributions to higher education.

In October 1993, Dr. Lovett was named president of Northern Arizona University. During her tenure, the University became the leader in Arizona in partnerships with community colleges and in distance learning. Targeted program initiatives, especially in the environmental sciences, attracted world-class senior faculty, produced a threefold increase in sponsored research, and allowed the University to launch a successful $100 million fund-raising campaign.

Following her retirement from the NAU presidency, Dr. Lovett became president of the American Association for Higher Education. In that role, she advocated for expanded access to higher education, diversity in curriculum and staffing, and effective use of technology in instruction and institutional operations. As a national thought leader, Dr. Lovett frequently gives interviews, lectures, and writes about important issues in higher education.

Since her days in the Washington, D.C. area, Dr. Lovett has advised and worked with appointed and elected officials on issues of higher education policy. In the 1990′s, she collaborated with several governors of western states on the creation of Western Governors’ University, one of the first online universities in the world and, to date, the only accredited university that awards baccalaureate and master’s degrees based on demonstration of competency rather than accumulation of credit hours. More recently, Dr. Lovett has assisted the Chancellor of the City University of New York with a number of projects.

Dr. Lovett is a trustee of Thunderbird, The Graduate School of Global Management and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Council on Teacher Quality and the Arizona Women’s Forum.

Dr. Lovett and her husband, Dr. Benjamin F. Brown IV, reside in Phoenix, Arizona. They support social service agencies and the arts through their private charitable foundation. Contact: or 602-728-9505. For additional information, see Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who of American Women, and Who’s Who in Education.