Colgate Leadership

Spring 2015
President Jeffrey Herbst

President Jeffrey Herbst (Photo by Andrew M. Daddio)

A world-class education

Five years ago, I observed in my inauguration speech that, especially in an age threatened with anomie, people seek a community whose members work and play together and use technology to connect and be more humane. I believed then, as I do now, that there always will be value in communities where people take care of one another, welcome back their previous generations, and engage the world while caring deeply what happens on the village green. With the Living the Liberal Arts in Our Third Century strategic plan, we have sought to build on the great strengths of Colgate: talented teacher-scholars, entrepreneurial students, and engaged alumni living and learning through a model liberal arts education in a setting absolutely central to the university’s identity.

Over the past five years, we have made Colgate far more accessible to diverse and talented students through significant increases in financial aid; added great strength to the faculty; and envisioned a new model of residential life through the residential learning communities that will begin to roll out in the fall. We have expanded international initiatives including study abroad as well as the Lampert Institute for Civic and Global Affairs. We fostered career development of all kinds, adding robust networking and mentoring programs, re-engineering the Office of Career Services and creating the Thought Into Action Entrepreneurship Institute. We created a plan to evolve the physical campus to anticipate the needs of Colgate’s third century. Along the way, we streamlined business functions to leverage new technologies, increase productivity, and contain costs.

The liberal arts education Colgate offers is world class, and I am proud to have served with faculty, administrators, alumni, trustees, and friends to ensure that a Colgate education is academically excellent, relevant, and, ideally, accessible for all.

Jeffrey Herbst

Denis F. Cronin, Colgate University class of 1969, and chair of the Colgate Board Of Trustees

Denis F. Cronin, Colgate University class of 1969, and chair of the Colgate Board Of Trustees. (Photo by Andrew M. Daddio)

Full steam ahead

As you may already know, President Jeffrey Herbst has decided not to seek renewal of his contract, which concludes on June 30, 2015. In conversations with the Board of Trustees, Jeff cited his desire to transition at a time that was best for Colgate: after finalizing the university’s 2014-2019 strategic plan, and prior to launching our next fundraising campaign and 2019 bicentennial celebration.

I join my board colleagues in applauding Jeff’s accomplished tenure and extending our great thanks to him and his wife, Sharon Polansky,for their leadership and dedication over the past five years. Jeff’s efforts to significantly build financial aid resources contributed to strengthening Colgate: the Class of 2018 has the best academic profile and the most diverse demographic profile in university history. And the strategic plan that he led will innovate student residential life communities and substantially enhance our educational offerings.

A committee of trustees, faculty, students, and a senior administrator, chaired by trustee Michael J. Herling ’79, P’08,’10,’12 and advised by executive search firm Spencer Stuart, is working to identify Colgate’s 17th president. These dedicated individuals will develop a vision of the attributes we will seek in our next president, in collaboration with members of the campus,alumni, and local communities. Based on that vision, they will select a dynamic individual to lead us forward.

In the meantime, Colgate is moving full steam ahead. I would like to thank Professor Jill Harsin for her willingness to serve as interim president for one year, beginning July 1. We will continue to further integrate academics and residential life through our soon-to-be-launched living-learning communities, and fortify our already robust international programs, including a new center this fall. In addition, we will soon break ground for a new athletics facility, a new building for career services, and the Center for Art and Culture. Colgate continues to provide an increasingly excellent educational experience for our students, and the Colgate community continues to exude strength and optimism.

Denis F. Cronin ’69, P’09,’10
Chair, Board of Trustees

Meet Interim President-elect Jill Harsin

Interim President-elect Jill Harsin

Historian and greatly respected member of the campus community since 1982

  • Takes office July 1,2015
  • Teaching: Professor of history; Christian A. Johnson Endeavor; Professor of liberal arts studies
  • Specialties: European history, history of France and the French Revolution, women’s history
  • Examples of administrative and governance roles: Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty (2009–10); Division of Social Sciences director (2007–09); Promotion and Tenure
    Committee (1991–94, 2006–07); Academic Affairs Board (2007–09); Faculty Affairs Committee (1990–91, 2011–14); chair of the Bicentennial Committee (current)
  • Honors: AAUW Scholarship; Alumni Corporation Distinguished Teaching Award, 2012
    Learn more about Interim President-elect Jill Harsin, and about the presidential search, at

(Photo by Andrew M. Daddio)