Chancellor Carrell standing behind a couch in One Discovery Square.
Lori J. Carrell, PhD

Meet the Chancellor

"Learning is essential to human progress, to discovery and to our collective well-being. At the heart of each learning moment is a human connection, a rare relationship to be honored.” - Lori Carrell

A passionate, creative educator, Dr. Carrell focuses on transformative communication, learning innovation and well-being in higher education communities.

About Chancellor Carrell

Dr. Carrell has served the innovative University of Minnesota Rochester (UMR) campus as a collaborative and inspirational leader since 2014. Selected as the second chancellor in 2018, she first served UMR as vice chancellor for both academic and student affairs. Prior to joining the University of Minnesota, she led general education reform efforts in the University of Wisconsin system as a campus leader in Oshkosh, where she also founded and directed a research-based teaching and learning center while continuing as a distinguished professor of communication. Her speeches, publications and scholarly work focus on human communication as a catalyst for transformation, as described in her 2021 book Communicate for a Change: Revitalizing Conversations for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins Press, co-authored with Robert Zemsky). 

Chancellor Carrell graduated summa cum laude from Anderson University (Indiana) in education, speech communication, theater and psychology. She completed her MS in counseling psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage and her PhD in human communication at the University of Denver. Dr. Carrell began her career as a teacher in her hoosier hometown, then sought to learn through adventure as a counselor and teacher in an indigenous community in Alaska. Such adventure-seeking has taken her to the Middle East, as a contributor to the launch of a new university in Oman; to a remote tribe in Ecuador, to study intercultural learning; and across the country, to investigate change in the communication between preachers and listeners.

Commitment to Learning

Known as a creative strategist, Dr. Carrell’s commitments to learning research, innovation through inclusive conversations and exemplary teaching resonate well with UMR’s vision to inspire transformation in higher education. During her leadership of the campus, UMR has achieved significant enrollment growth and equity in educational attainment, as reported by the Washington Post, Hechinger Report and Chronicle of Higher Education’s Innovation Issue. Carrell attributes this “gap closing” accomplishment to the hard work of diverse students, faculty and staff, and a “research to practice” model focused on students and their success. UMR students experience high-impact practices identified by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and additional evidence-based practices in and out of the classroom. For Carrell, a focus on well-being and mental health is essential, not only for students but also for staff and faculty. Chancellor Carrell is convinced that "collaborative academic communities can lead transformation in higher education while also creating inclusive environments in which all can flourish.”

Currently, she co-leads the College-in-3 Exchange, a collective of campuses across the country designing college degrees to decrease student costs and increase student outcomes. The project is documented in a forthcoming book, College-in-3: An Overdue Conversation about Reducing Cost and Improving Quality. 

"Learning is essential to human progress, to discovery and to our collective well-being,” says Carrell. “At the heart of each learning moment is a human connection, a rare relationship to be honored

Creating Community Connections

Carrell is active in the community, having served on the boards of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, Cradle to Career and YMCA of the North. She is a Rotarian and proud member of the American Association of University Women, participating in the arts – including a stint with Dancing for the Arts and a role in Stay with Me Awhile at the Civic Theatre. She served on the Minnesota team of Citizens and Scholars, a national endeavor to connect policy makers and higher ed leaders for generative conversation. Honors include an Edward Penson Faculty Award, a Research Associate Professorship, the Weaver Award for Outstanding College Educator, an Endowment for Excellence Professorship and a Federation Research Prize from the Central States Communication Association.

Connect with Dr. Carrell on LinkedIn.