President’s Biography

“The real danger for students who learn differently is that they may mistake their ‘island of challenge’ as the dominant landscape of their lives.  It is not.”

George_Hagerty PS croppedGeorge J. Hagerty is an educator who is about the work of creating potent and receptive undergraduate settings that nurture student interests and ambitions while simultaneously providing responsible guidance and support.

With his inauguration as the third President of Beacon College, Dr. Hagerty returns to his early career focus in the arenas of special education policy and higher education accessibility.  In this realm, he believes it is essential to reshape students’ perspectives so that their primary focus shifts from their “island of challenge” to the capabilities, interests, and ambitions that comprise and adorn the “landscape of life.” To accomplish this, he believes that educators need to guide students away from a lifetime of managed expectations and mere accommodation and toward the empowerment of self-advocacy and intentional acts of “toppling barriers.”

At Beacon College, Dr. Hagerty is working with a wide range of pioneering faculty and administrators – and with the students themselves – on a variety of living and learning initiatives embracing curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular programs, as well as integrating a robust four-year career development track.

Dr. Hagerty previously served for fourteen years as the President of Franklin Pierce University, where he oversaw a period of sustained growth and building.  While there, he guided the institution’s transition from college to university status, significantly expanded both academic and extracurricular activities and added several new facilities to support the expansion.  Upon his retirement, he was named President Emeritus.

Recognizing that educational issues – including those that confront students who learn differently – do not acknowledge global boundaries, Dr. Hagerty has been a champion of promoting the U.S. higher education model to an international audience.  Immediately after retiring from Franklin Pierce University, he became Provost and University Professor at the newly founded Hellenic American University in Athens, Greece.  Today he is still a regular speaker on the world stage and has recently spoken to audiences in New York City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Lagos, Nigeria.

Dr. Hagerty’s understanding of educational policy and its implementation runs deep.  He began his career with a postdoctoral fellowship at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and went on to serve in a series of posts in the newly created U.S. Department of Education.  In these positions, he led branches that oversaw personnel preparation and policy compliance in the Office of Special Education Programs.  Since leaving federal service, Dr. Hagerty has been called upon regularly to serve as an advisor to both Democratic and Republican administrations on issues related to special education, state-federal relations, and educational finance.

Professional Posts

  • President, Beacon College, Leesburg, FL (2013 – present)
  • President, University Advisors International, Wentworth-by-the Sea, NH (2012-2013)
  • Provost and University Professor, Hellenic American University, Athens, Greece (2009 – 2011)
  • President, Franklin Pierce University, Rindge, NH(1995-2009)
  • Lecturer, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1990 – 1996)
  • Associate Professor of Political Science and Education and Director of Academic Development, Stonehill College,  (1985 – 1995)
  • Program Officer (subsequently Chief), Special Education Personnel and Compliance and Enforcement Branches, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. (1979 – 1985)
  • Post Doctoral Fellow, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D.C. (1978 – 1979)

Awards and Honors

  • Honorary Doctorate, Lugansk National University (Ukraine)
  • Marlin Fitzwater Award for Leadership in Public Communication
  • National Leadership Award, National Council on Disabilities
  • Northeast-10 Conference Hall of Fame
  • Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary International

Publications and Policy Papers

Dr. Hagerty’s scholarly and public writing include diverse contributions in the form of book chapters, professional journal articles, policy papers, and opinion pieces (op-eds) published in the United States and internationally.

Governing Boards

  • Chair, Board of Directors, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)
  • Chair, Presidents’ Council, National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Division II
  • NCAA Executive Committee
  • Chair, Committee on Academic Reform
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Council on Education (ACE)
  • Member, ACE Commission on Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness


  • Ed.D., Administration, Planning and Social Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • Ed.M., Education Policy and Finance, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  • A.B., Political Science/International Affairs, Stone Hill College, Easton, MA