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Lorraine Goffe named vice president for human resources

Will be a key partner in identifying and implementing practices that contribute to employee wellness, recruitment and retention and advance DEI initiatives

Lorraine Goffe has been named Northwestern University's vice president for human resources and chief human resource officer, Executive Vice President Craig Johnson announced today.

Lorraine Goffe
Lorraine Goffe

Goffe, who has served as vice president and chief human resources officer at The Pennsylvania State University since 2019, will assume the role Feb. 1, 2022.

“I am honored to be selected as the next HR leader for Northwestern University and look forward to joining the vibrant Northwestern community,” Goffe said. “I am also excited about the opportunity to collaborate with HR colleagues, leadership and all other members of the University community to help Northwestern achieve even greater heights.”

Goffe will lead all aspects of Northwestern's central human resources functions and will be a key partner in identifying and implementing practices that contribute to employee wellness, recruitment and retention and advance the University's diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.

She will oversee functions including hiring, compensation and benefits for faculty and staff, as well as wellness and talent development programs, and she will collaborate with leaders across campus to identify opportunities to improve HR functions and offerings.

“Lorraine brings outstanding expertise and experience to the role,” Johnson said. “She has dedicated her career to improving HR operations and career outcomes for faculty and staff, and we look forward to welcoming her to our Northwestern community.”

Goffe has more than two decades of experience in higher education, having served as vice president for human resources at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and as vice chancellor for human resources at Washington University in St. Louis. 

Throughout her career, Goffe has prioritized using data to gain insight into the needs of the workforce as well as create retention strategies, develop compensation and benefits programs and improve diversity outcomes. Additionally, Goffe has worked in organizations in the midst of change at various times during her career and has worked collaboratively with university leaders to implement necessary change efforts.

At a university, our people are our most valuable resource. Providing them with the tools to develop their professional skills and maintain a healthy work/life balance is one of the most important roles of human resources.”

Lorraine Goffe, vice president for human resources

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Goffe helped guide Penn State's policies related to remote work and return-to-work strategies, emphasizing programs that meet the varied needs of the community.

Goffe also has led efforts to recruit, engage, develop and retain a diverse workforce, including creating Penn State's first position for a senior-level Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging leader in Human Resources. In addition, she has focused on developing paths for staff to build their careers at the university, including through leadership skills training and talent development programs.

“At a university, our people are our most valuable resource. Providing them with the tools to develop their professional skills and maintain a healthy work/life balance is one of the most important roles of human resources,” Goffe said. “I anticipate getting to know the Northwestern community and learning more about how HR can continue to support them.”

Goffe was selected from a diverse candidate slate following a national search by a committee representing a broad array of staff and faculty.

“Lorraine's dedication to her work and to the community she serves made her a standout candidate,” said Vice President for Operations Luke Figora, who chaired the search committee. “We are excited to work with her to continue developing programs and opportunities that benefit Northwestern's faculty, staff and the broader University community.”

Goffe holds an MBA from National University in San Diego and a bachelor's degree in business administration from William Woods University in Missouri. She is the past board chair of the Northeast Human Resources Association and current board member of the American Research Universities HR Institute. She also is the proud mother of two adult sons.

Goffe will succeed Manuel Cuevas-Trisán following his departure from Northwestern in August. Priya Harjani, who has led Human Resources in an interim capacity since then and previously elected not to be a candidate for the permanent position, will resume her role as associate vice president and deputy general counsel at Northwestern.

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