This weekend, Carleton’s 11th President Steven Poskanzer will be formally installed as the President of Carleton College in a ceremony Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in Skinner Memorial Chapel, with an address delivered by Hugo Sonnenschein, President Emeritus and Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. President Poskanzer began his duties on August 2, replacing President Rob Oden who retired after eight years as President.
Poskanzer arrives to Carleton after serving as the President of SUNY-New Paltz for the previous nine years. Before that he worked in various administrative roles at the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania, and his alma mater, Princeton University.
Although his formal introduction is scheduled for tomorrow, Poskanzer has wasted little time in trying to connect with students and faculty. Over the summer his office held an ice cream social for all members of the Carleton community on campus. Poskanzer also appeared at some of the summer academic program events in an effort to meet more members of the community.
Meeting and interacting with students, faculty, and alums on a formal as well as an informal basis is an essential aspect of how Poskanzer wants to approach his job. “It’s important for me to be a physical and visible presence, and an approachable presence, on campus. I chose to come here because I think the Carleton faculty and students are spectacular and I want people to feel that the President knows them and appreciates what they do and wants to be part of the life of the campus,” said Poskanzer.
Poskanzer has already made his presence felt, participating in the Nolympics, meeting clubs at the activities fair, and attending some residential life gatherings. He has also begun connecting with students in some non-traditional ways, including having a picture of him shaving with Schiller in the New Student Issue of the Carl. It did not take long for Poskanzer to be wrapped in numerous Carleton traditions, in August the pipes by Lyman Lakes were adorned with a simultaneous welcoming of Poskanzer and farewell to President Oden painted in maize and blue.
Before being named Carleton’s President, Poskanzer was well aware of Carleton’s excellence and commitment to improvement, “I knew during the search process that Carleton was great academically, and this was an absolutely top quality institution, I was beginning to get a sense of how that was combined with an utter lack of pretension and genuine openness,” Poskanzer said.
Now that he has arrived his thoughts about Carleton have been proved true as well as new aspects of Carleton that he had not anticipated. “What I’m seeing now that I’m here is that all that’s true, and that’s great. But there are also other qualities here that are really very special. There is this shared mutuality of endeavor that everyone is serious about their work, but that it isn’t cutthroat,” Poaskanzer said.
One of the characteristics of Carleton that Poskanzer had not expected was the unique bond between the faculty and students. “The level of connection between students and faculty here is deeper, and more genuine and more lasting,” said Poskanzer who was also amazed about how alums would stay at the former professor’s houses and how professors would stay at their former students houses.
Despite being here for just over a month, Poskanzer is content and happy with his new job. “I’m feeling really at home and thrilled and humbled and excited to be here,” said Poskanzer.
In addition to being named President of the College, Poskanzer also holds an appointment in the Political Science department. Although he will not teach this year, it is something that he would like to do.
“At every place I have been I have taught,” Poskanzer said, “and for me having an academic home is very important.” Poskanzer plans to ease his way into teaching, most likely starting off with lecturing and then some joint teaching to go along with his duties as President of the College.
Aside from the installation ceremony, many more events are happening during this inauguration weekend. Poskanzer will be delivering today’s Convocation at 3:30 titled “Setting Prairie Fires.” Tonight The Bad Plus, a jazz trio from the Twin Cities will be giving the Christopher U. Light Lectureship Concert. After the Installation Ceremony tomorrow, there will be a reception on the Lawn South of Laird Hall. The festivities will conclude with an Inauguration Ball held in the Severance Great Hall, Severance Tea Room, and Sayles and fireworks at 9:30 p.m. over Lyman Lakes.