Gloria Cordes Larson, Esq. 


President of Bentley University in Waltham, MA

Gloria Cordes Larson, Esq. was elected to the presidency of Bentley University after a prestigious career as an attorney, public policy expert, and business leader. She was drawn to Bentley because of its inventive approach to redefining business education—by fusing its core business curriculum with the arts and sciences, and its strong focus on ethics and social responsibility.

During her tenure, the institution has reached a number of milestones centered on the content and value of a business education in the 21st Century marketplace. President Larson also launched the Center for Women and Business at Bentley in 2011, with a mission to advance shared leadership among women and men in the corporate world and to develop women as business leaders. Currently, she serves on the boards of directors of two public companies, Unum Group and Boston Private, as well as a number of non-profit boards.

Before joining Bentley, Larson was co-chair of the Government Strategies Group at Foley Hoag LLP.  She led a business advisory cabinet for Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and served as Secretary of Economic Affairs under Massachusetts Republican Governor William Weld. Larson also oversaw business and regulatory issues as Deputy Director of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission in Washington.

Larson has also been named among Boston Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People” in 2015; the Boston Business Journal’s “Power 50: Influential Bostonians;” Boston Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Boston;” and is the recipient of the International Women’s Forum “Women Who Make a Difference” Award (2015) and Associated Industries of MA “Next Century” Award (2015), as well as the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural “Collaborative Leadership Award” and “Academy of Distinguished Bostonians Award.” She was also recently honored with the Region I “President’s Award” from NASPA, the leading association for Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Highlight Project: the Yawkey Foundation awarded $500,000 to Bentley University to help boost service-learning and civic engagement.

The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.

For 25 years, the Bentley Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center (BSLCE) has sent thousands of students into the greater-Boston community and beyond to help more than 50 non-profits at 80 different sites. The center helps students to apply the practical, real-world business skills in accounting, management, marketing, liberal studies, and strategic planning for which Bentley has become nationally recognized to help community partners succeed and flourish. Jonathan White, director of Bentley’s Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center, clearly stated the purpose of the Center: "Our mission is to continue working with Bentley students to help them become the civic and nonprofit leaders of today and tomorrow.” He then underlined the importance of the award in increasing the Center’s possibilities: “The Yawkey Foundations’ generous donation will enable us to build deeper connections between Bentley students and the nonprofit world, putting their tremendous fusion of business and liberal studies skills and knowledge to work to improve the lives of others.”

The award will help Bentley to strengthen students’ service-learning and civic engagement in three ways. A Civic Engagement Leadership Seminar will teach students how nonprofits and social enterprises operate as well as how to maximize the impact of their boards of directors. The award will also expand Bentley’s nonprofit internship opportunities with more funding to pay students and allow them to take unpaid positions, inspiring them to think more broadly about how a business education can lead to careers in nonprofits and social entrepreneurship. Finally, BSLCE and Bentley University Career Services will launch an annual career fair for the social good, dedicated to nonprofit and social enterprise organizations, while offering deepened advising to students seeking nonprofit sector careers. Each year, approximately 1,000 Bentley students work with the university’s Service-Learning and Civic Engagement Center, including 130 who are selected as program managers.

The students share the director White’s excitement about the opportunities made available by the award. James Purdy ’17, a student director of service-learning at the center, said the Yawkey grant will create more chances for Bentley students to expand their leadership skills. “Bentley students are known for our business skills and training, and service-learning and civic engagement helps us think about how to use those skills in a wider range of areas,” said Purdy. “It lets us prepare for, and pursue, a career in fields that provide meaningful social change."