Steven G. Poskanzer, J.D., assumed his duties as Carleton’s 11th president on August 2, 2010, and was inaugurated on September 25, 2010. He concluded his 11-year term as Carleton’s president — and his 20th year as a college president — in July 2021.
During Poskanzer’s presidency, Carleton developed and implemented a comprehensive set of strategic plans that set the college’s academic and operational priorities; increased the racial, geographic and socioeconomic diversity of the student body; increased the amount of financial aid provided to low- and middle-income students; gave new and focused attention to career preparation for liberal arts students; and completed Every Carl for Carleton, the largest and most successful fundraising campaign in the College’s history, raising over $490 million.
Under Poskanzer’s leadership, Carleton maintained its longstanding record of academic excellence and completed several critical capital projects, including the new interdisciplinary science complex that includes Evelyn M. Anderson Hall; the performance commons addition to the Weitz Center for Creativity; and the complete renovation of Scoville, Laird, and Evans Halls. The College also developed its first Climate Action Plan and made great strides toward becoming a carbon-neutral campus.
A scholar of higher education law, 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, Poskanzer has also made a point of teaching students in the classroom, a tradition he will continue in his post-presidential career. After a sabbatical leave during the 2021–2022 academic year, Steve will return to Carleton as a faculty member in the Political Science department.
President Poskanzer 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, Poskanzer 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, Poskanzer 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, Poskanzer served as President of SUNY New Paltz. New Paltz dramatically enhanced its student and faculty quality and its overall academic reputation during Poskanzer’s tenure, including being recognized by Newsweek as the “Hottest Small State School” in America.
Steve 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, a 2015 graduate of Carleton who works in the television industry; and Craig, a neuroscience researcher.