Dear Members of the Carleton Community,
On behalf of the Presidential Search Committee and by a unanimous vote of the Carleton College Board of Trustees, it is our distinct honor to introduce Alison R. Byerly as Carleton’s 12th president. She joins us from Lafayette College, where she has served as president since 2013, and will begin her duties at Carleton on August 1, 2021.
Alison is a highly experienced and gifted academic leader. She is a renowned scholar of English and a fierce advocate for interdisciplinary education and the liberal arts. She also is a Carleton parent—her daughter Laramie Jensen graduated with the Class of 2015. Before embarking on a career in higher education, Alison earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in English from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to becoming president at Lafayette, she was a faculty member, provost and executive vice president at Middlebury College for 24 years.
You can learn more about Alison by watching a video interview posted to our announcement website, where you also can gather additional information about her academic and professional credentials.
During our months-long search for Carleton’s next president, Alison emerged from a strong pool of diverse and highly qualified candidates as a visionary leader with an ability to inspire.
The search committee was comprised of people who love Carleton and who believe one way to express that is by exploring honestly the gaps between the College’s aspirations and its achievements. During our work, we heard from voices making clear there is urgent work Carleton needs to do to ensure it is fulfilling its promises to everyone in our community, and fulfilling its responsibilities in a country and world facing many challenges. Alison impressed the committee at every stage of the search process with her authenticity, credibility, and sense of urgency for addressing real and immediate needs at Carleton, including the crucial work of our Community Plan for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.
The search committee—along with other students, faculty, staff, alumni, and trustees involved in the search—came to greatly appreciate Alison’s energy, candor, keen understanding of complex issues, and strong relationship-building skills. She clearly loves students and cares deeply about the student experience. Alison listens well and then gets crisply to the heart of the matter in every conversation. She immerses herself in college life. She is a person who has run marathons and works out side-by-side with students and faculty at the gym. She and her spouse, Stephen Jensen, fill their evenings by attending student athletic events, academic presentations, art exhibits, and musical performances.
We are confident Alison is the right president to steer Carleton into its post-pandemic era, and to help shape and lead Carleton’s future. She and Steve, a medical editor, have two children: their daughter, Laramie ’15, received her doctorate in oceanography at Texas A&M and is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Washington. Their son, Ryan, a graduate of Dickinson College, is pursuing an MLIS degree at Drexel.
We wish to thank the members of the Presidential Search Committee for the incredible amount of time and energy they spent on this important task for Carleton: trustees Carol Barnett ’86, John Harris ’85, and Jeninne McGee ’85; alumni Amy Bevilacqua ’89, Leslie Kautz ’80, and Austin Lau ’05; faculty members George Shuffelton (English, Faculty President), Marty Baylor (Physics and Astronomy), Adriana Estill (English and American Studies), and Dev Gupta (Political Science, Faculty President-Elect); students Andrew Farias ’21 (former CSA President), Lucas Demetriades ’22, and Molly Zuckerman ’22 (current CSA President); staff members Alex Miller (Sustainability) and Jane Rizzo (Budgeting and Financial Analysis); and committee secretary Joe Hargis and administrative assistant Gayle Bauer.
Thanks also to the many members of the Carleton community who responded to our call for input during the search, providing the committee with invaluable feedback, as well as to our search firm, Storbeck Search & Associates.
Finally, we want to offer our profound appreciation to President Poskanzer for his strong leadership and tireless work to strengthen Carleton in his 11 years as our president. We look forward to welcoming Steve back to the political science faculty in 2022 following a well-earned sabbatical.
And, we look forward to welcoming Alison and Steve to Carleton in August.
More information about President Byerly and the presidential search process can be found online at carleton.edu/presidential-search.
With gratitude and pride,
Cathy Paglia ’74 and Wally Weitz ’70
Presidential Search Committee Co-Chairs