Elsa is the president of Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic. Prior to joining Eastern in 2006, she served as the Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at the University of Maine System, and before that, University Dean for Academic Affairs and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the City University of New York.
Under Elsa’s leadership, Eastern is the #1 ranked public regional university in New England in U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 “Best Colleges” rankings. Eastern has also been recognized 10 times by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a “Great College to Work For,” and been included in The Princeton Review’s list of the nation’s top Green Colleges for the past 11 years in a row.
Elsa is the author of Pursuing Diversity (1992) and Hanging Out and Hanging on: From the Projects to the Campus (2014). Hanging Out chronicles the progress of students from Hartford and Manchester, who are enrolled in a program that Elsa created, the Dual College Enrollment Program at Eastern. Hanging Out also tells the story of Elsa’s own beginnings in Puerto Rico and Newark, New Jersey, of her struggles as a non-English speaking elementary school student, and her triumphs in high school and college.
Elsa has also published numerous articles in the areas of language acquisition, diversity, Hispanics in higher education, cultural differences in education, and retention. She received an Ed.D. from Rutgers University, her master’s from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and a bachelor’s degree from Montclair State College.