by Chet Hardin
Colorado College announced today its replacement for president Richard Celeste. According to the news release, the Board of Trustees has hired Jill Tiefenthaler, provost and professor of economics at Wake Forest University.
Tiefenthaler, 45, will become the college's 13th president once Celeste steps down on June 30.
You can read our exit interview with Celeste in this Thursday's issue.
Read the rest of the college's press release:
The trustees unanimously elected Tiefenthaler after a nationwide search conducted by a presidential search committee that included trustees, alumni, faculty, staff and students. The committee considered highly accomplished leaders from a pool of hundreds of candidates with diverse backgrounds.
“We set our sights high, seeking a president who could combine a collaborative leadership style with a penchant for getting things done. We sought a charismatic leader with a deep understanding of the liberal arts, who relates effectively to students, parents, alumni and the world. We found all of that — and more — in Dr. Jill Tiefenthaler,” said Suzanne Woolsey, chair of the Colorado College Board of Trustees. “She will enable Colorado College to be the best, and she is poised to become a national leader in defining the future of colleges.”
Tiefenthaler said Colorado College’s innovative spirit — demonstrated by the college’s Block Plan, in which students immerse themselves in one course at a time — and its strong commitment to liberal arts teaching drew her to the institution.
“I was looking for a place that shared my values — great faith in the liberal arts, faculty-student engagement, experiential education, diversity and community — and that was also willing to take a few risks, with a goal of continually building academic excellence,” Tiefenthaler said. “I know I have found just the place.”
Tiefenthaler joined Wake Forest University as provost and professor of economics in August 2007. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from Duke University in 1989 and 1991, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Saint Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., in 1987. Prior to joining Wake Forest, she taught economics at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., advancing to full professor there, chairing the economics department from 2000-2003 and serving as associate dean of the faculty from 2003-2006.
With research interests focused on labor economics, economics of the family and development economics, she has published numerous scholarly journal articles, several of them related to the economics of domestic violence. Some of her cross-cultural academic work includes studies conducted in the Philippines and Brazil, including a study for the World Bank in the 1990s.
Tiefenthaler has used her leadership skills to achieve great progress in strengthening strategic planning, faculty development, enrollment management, curriculum development and interdisciplinary scholarship. As chief academic officer at Wake Forest, she led a recent strategic planning process culminating in a 10-year plan that reflects the emphasis on the teacher-scholar model, education of the whole person and the preservation of opportunity in higher education.
Under Tiefenthaler’s leadership, Wake Forest established the Institute for Public Engagement, the Humanities Institute and a number of interdisciplinary research centers. She presided over a more than 50 percent increase in undergraduate applications and the capping of loans to financially challenged undergraduates. She also worked with alumni and donors to increase support for the university’s academic program. Tiefenthaler has been an innovator in university-community engagement. As founding director of Colgate’s Upstate Institute, designed to bring together the resources of Colgate with the needs of the region, she expanded outreach by working closely with community and business leaders.
The presidential search committee worked for six months on the nationwide search, gathering suggestions from alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and community members. The firm Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates provided executive search services. The committee sought a candidate with qualities including personal integrity, approachability and a sense of humor; distinguished intellectual achievement; success as a senior administrator; commitment to the highest standards of learning, teaching and scholarship; a history of strategic thinking and innovation; fundraising and financial management success; experience building relationships with community constituents; a commitment to environmental sustainability; commitment to diversity; and exceptional communication skills.
“Provost Tiefenthaler rose to become the committee's unanimous choice, emerging from a field of literally hundreds. Her demonstrated commitment to excellence, her ability to lead internally and her capacity to motivate externally were decisive considerations,” said David M. Lampton, CC trustee and chair of the search committee. “The trustee, faculty, student, staff and alumni members of the committee were united in their enthusiasm for Tiefenthaler, which is the best evidence of the wisdom of this choice.”
Tiefenthaler joins Colorado College at a time of growth and strength. During President Celeste’s tenure, applications for admission to the college increased from 3,400 to 4,900; selectivity moved from 56 percent to 26 percent; 18 new tenure-track faculty positions were added; financial aid increased from $16.8 million to $26 million per year; and the LEED-certified Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center was built.
Tiefenthaler, her husband, Wake Forest Economics Professor Kevin Rask, and their two children, Olivia, 12, and Owen, 9, plan to move to Colorado Springs in early summer.