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Office of the Provost

Greetings current and future Cougars!

Cleary University is a place of transformation, where we have educated people who believe in leadership, innovation and community to change the world. Our founder, P.R. Cleary, had a vision of an educational institution that welcomed all people seeking skills and training to improve their communities by contributing in meaningful ways. In 1883, when Cleary was first established, the Cleary family knew well that not everyone was welcome in higher education at the time. They were Irish immigrants who wanted to make sure that every person could have access to education and the benefits that come from it.

That legacy has led us through three centuries of empowering Americans with business skills that lead them forward. Our first two students were women at a time when many women were not even taught to read. We continue that tradition of eliminating barriers and providing access, introducing programs and activities that move us all forward. In the last decade, we’ve added 20 varsity athletic teams. We have expanded our educational offerings to include an MBA in Women’s Leadership, an MBA in E-learning, and so much more. We have passionate leaders imagining new ways to learn and connect, and our students remark that their experiences learning in-person and online are equally inspiring and personal. We are known for knowing our students and making sure every person within the Cleary brand matters.

If you’re looking for a transformational education at a place where you’ll never get lost, Cleary is the place for you. Cleary graduates are impacting every corner of our world. With a business degree from Cleary University, you never know how far you can go!

Emily Barnes
Cleary University


Provost Emily Barnes, MLS, Ed.D., was the 11th president (interim) of Cleary University; she assumed office May 8, 2020. Barnes is the University’s first female Provost and was the first female Interim President. In 2020, Barnes acquired a doctorate in Higher Education Leadership. She completed her graduate studies in academic librarianship and human-computer interaction at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing. She specializes in inclusive pedagogical methods, cognitive disruptive technologies, curriculum development, and concepts of adaptable leadership.

Before coming to Cleary, Barnes was an academic entrepreneur, building learning management systems and custom, multi-format educational and training experiences for a variety of organizations. She is known as the academic thought leader behind The Cleary Mind.

Barnes is passionate about creating change in higher education and inspiring academic leaders to raise the bar, redefine the status quo, and think differently. Her vision is to infuse higher education with curiosity, agility, and innovation in efforts to renovate higher ed and get it out of the box where it usually sits.