Carleton College Board of Trustees Names Steven G. Poskanzer Next President

Northfield, Minn. Carleton College Board of Trustees has named Steven G. Poskanzer, J.D., as its next President of the College.

Currently the president at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, Poskanzer, 51, will assume his duties as Carleton’s 11th president on August 2, 2010. He replaces Robert A. Oden Jr., who announced his retirement, effective June 30, 2010, this past September.

Poskanzer (pronounced PAHS-kan-zher), a 1980 cum laude graduate of Princeton University, earned a J.D. degree from Harvard University in 1983. Formerly chief of staff to the president at the University of Chicago for four years, Poskanzer has served for the past 12 years in the SUNY system, the New York state system of higher education that encompasses 64 campuses. He held associate and senior associate provost positions in the main SUNY office, the final two years as head of the office of academic affairs. He became vice provost for academic affairs in 2000 before moving to the SUNY–New Paltz campus in October 2001 as that institution’s president, serving first on an interim basis until being named permanently to the position in 2003.

“Steven Poskanzer is a rare individual, who combines intellect, wit, and a passion for the liberal arts with an innate ability to win over almost everyone he meets,” Carleton Board of Trustees chair and presidential search committee co-chair Jack Eugster '67 said. “His successes as president at SUNY–New Paltz and as a teacher-scholar are just the type of experiences the search committee and the Board of Trustees sought for Carleton’s next president. I’m excited that Steve is joining Carleton. He, no doubt, will brilliantly lead Carleton in the fine traditions of the ten presidents who have preceded him.”

Poskanzer’s time at SUNY–New Paltz has been marked by a visible transformation, as the institution has doubled the number of students that come from the highest selectivity category, retention rates have increased dramatically, as has the number of full-time faculty members. During his presidency, four-and six-year graduation rates jumped nearly 20 percent. He led an effort to set clear fund-raising priorities and helped achieve a 100 percent participation rate by foundation board members. Overall annual giving has increased by 39 percent under his watch. His leadership resulted in $94 million in additional capital appropriations, allowing for the building of a new science center, renovations in the library and largest classroom building on campus, and an addition to the student center. He dramatically improved the public perception of the College, as exemplified by New Paltz’s designation in Newsweek as the “Hottest Small State School” in America in 2008 and a front-page story in The New York Times highlighting the growing selectivity and quality of the college in 2009.

 “We are thrilled that Steve will be joining us as the next president of Carleton College,” Catherine James Paglia '74, Carleton Board of Trustees member and co-chair of the presidential search committee, said. “Our search included a series of meetings on the Carleton campus with a small but representative group of faculty, staff, students, and trustees, and culminated in a vote of the entire Board of Trustees expressing overwhelming support for Steve as our next president. The search committee was impressed with the quality and diverse nature of the entire applicant pool, but Steve’s intellectual vitality, energy, and commitment to the liberal arts stood out at every stage of the process.”

“This is the most exciting and humbling moment of my career,” Poskanzer said. “Being able to work with the entire Carleton community to make sure that the College flourishes and also reaches a whole new level of distinction is a privilege and a signally important trust. Carleton is one of a tiny handful of the finest liberal arts colleges in the world. It’s a gem that fills a critical niche in the firmament of higher education.

“Over the course of the search, Carleton has captivated my family and me and truly captured my heart. It’s exhilarating to be engaged in a dialogue about education that is premised upon a shared commitment to do things only at the highest level of quality. But I must also say that until I came to know Carleton, I’ve never had conversations about this topic where I’ve laughed so much and had so much fun. This speaks volumes about the kind of place Carleton is, the kinds of people who become Carls, and how happy I know I will be in Northfield.”

Poskanzer is married to Dr. Jane Nofer Poskanzer, a clinical child psychologist who specializes in the diagnosis of autism and related disabilities. The couple has two children, Jill and Craig.