Suzy Nelson, Colgate’s vice president and dean of the college since June 2012, has been named vice president of student life at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., effective July 1, 2016.
“From the very first days after her arrival in 2012, Suzy has been an accessible, collaborative, and compassionate leader dedicated to building innovative programs that enhance student life, and to identifying solutions to the pressing issues that college students face today — always with the goal of building resilience in young people,” said Interim President Jill Harsin.
Nelson’s efforts to transform the dean of the college division organizationally have helped improve the extracurricular experience as well as deepen support services of all kinds for students, including, for example, the creation of the Shaw Wellness Institute and increased support for international students and LGBTQ students.
“Suzy’s empathy and her profound concern for students go hand in hand with her sharp intelligence and deep knowledge,” said Constance Harsh, interim dean of the faculty and provost. A champion of integrating living and learning in the student experience, Nelson spearheaded the creation of Colgate’s Residential Commons program in strong partnership with faculty directors.
Nelson sought to foster dialogue across difference among and with students, both in terms of program building as well as in times of conflict. Her work with student activists resulted in the development of the Colgate For All action plan to make the university a more welcoming and inclusive place for every student. That foundation will serve as a basis for the university’s efforts for years to come.
She has also worked tirelessly, and in dialogue with students, on the issue of sexual violence prevention and survivor support. She is leading the task force, expected to complete its work during this semester, that will strengthen our efforts in this area.
“While I am excited to begin this new opportunity at MIT as vice president for student life, I am also very sad to leave Colgate,” said Nelson. “I have had much support from many faculty, staff, and students, and as a result, we have accomplished a great deal. I am very fortunate to have served as dean of the college at such a great institution. I hope to always be considered part of the Colgate family.”
Nelson came to Colgate from Harvard College, where she served as dean of student life, having also worked at Cornell University and Syracuse University in the areas of residential life, fraternity and sorority advising, and student leadership development. She has published and presented widely on the complex issues and practices related to student life on college campuses.
Nelson will remain at Colgate through Reunion 2016 in June.