Steven G. Poskanzer became Carleton College’s 11th president in August, 2010. A scholar of higher education law, Mr. Poskanzer’s research focuses on issues of academic freedom and how colleges and universities seek to achieve educational goals in a complex legal and policy environment. At each institution where he has worked, Mr. Poskanzer has also made a point of teaching students in the classroom. Last fall he taught a seminar, “Legal Issues in Higher Education,” to Carleton students.
Before coming to Carleton, Mr. Poskanzer held senior administrative and academic positions at both private and public universities. This breadth of experience makes him somewhat unusual among college presidents.
He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in 1980 and a law degree from Harvard University in 1983. After practicing law briefly in Washington, D.C., his entire career has been spent in higher education. He first worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the University of Pennsylvania, becoming the University's Associate General Counsel. He then spent a year as an American Council on Education Fellow back at Princeton, working as an assistant to the University’s Provost. In 1993, he moved to the University of Chicago, where he served as Executive Assistant to the President and, among other duties, was responsible for the University’s Public Affairs department and for policy planning for the Board of Trustees.
In 1997, he shifted from private to public higher education, joining the State University of New York (SUNY). Initially based in Albany at SUNY’s System Administration, he quickly rose to the position of Vice Provost for the 64-campus System and headed the Office of Academic Affairs. From 2001-2010, he served as President of SUNY New Paltz. His time in New Paltz was marked by a visible transformation in the College’s selectivity, retention, and graduation rate of students; the level of resources devoted to hiring full time faculty; and an unprecedented set of the physical improvement to the campus (including the acquisition of a 40-acre land bank for future campus growth). As a result of these enhancements to academic quality, New Paltz was acclaimed the “Hottest Small State School” in the nation by Newsweek magazine.
As President of Carleton, he devised and led a comprehensive strategic planning process that brought together faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents to chart the College’s course for the coming decade. This plan, Carleton’s Future, is now being implemented. The last few years at Carleton have been marked by a dramatic increase in the number of applications, along with continued success in faculty recruitment.